The RainShine House is a contemporary LEED Platinum home for a couple of empty nesters designed by architect Robert M. Cain, located in Decatur, Georgia. The home was designed as a retirement residence with provision for visiting children and extended family members. One of the most nontoxic new, single-family houses in the United States, the house has achieved and exceeded the highest level of “green architecture” possible through the United States Green Building Council’s LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] for Homes Pilot Program. It is the first modernist residence to achieve the much-coveted LEED Platinum level in the Southeastern United States.
The two-story home is comprised of 2800-square feet of living space with three-bedrooms, three-and-a-half bathrooms, nestled on a 1/3-acre infill lot. RainShine is contemporary in design and is named for key design features. The living room, dining, kitchen and guest bedrooms are sheltered by a unique butterfly roof structured with steel beams spanned by exposed 1- 1/2” tongue-and-groove wood decking. The roof floats above continuous clerestories allowing light to flood into the interior. Light shelves around the clerestory sills bounce and diffuse natural light throughout the interior.
The butterfly roof is designed to capture rainfall for a rain harvest system located in the basement (Rain) and is oriented to maximize southern exposure for a roof mounted photovoltaic system (Shine). The butterfly design, with it’s inverted gable, simplifies rainwater collection, eliminates extensive gutter and downspout systems and the associated maintenance headaches common in conventional gabled or hip roofed homes.
The home features large expanses of thermally broken glazing with solar shades and operable windows. Spaces are defined by “thick walls” containing storage, book shelves, niches, pass-throughs, closets, audio visual equipment, systems, etc. Except at certain utility areas, interior walls stop short of the ceilings and are topped by glazing, thus enhancing the floating roof effect.
Photos: Paul Hultberg Photography
Trees on the Roof is modern single family residence designed to bring the outside indoors by Meditch Murphey Architects, located in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Situated on a tight urban site, the house is surrounded by a lush fully developed tree canopy at the roof level which we wanted to be able to inhabit. So nestling into this canopy and developing the roof scape underneath it drove the design.
The roof is home to planters large enough to support twenty foot trees and a garden with soil deep enough to grow broccoli, cauliflower and tomatoes. Several balconies and sitting areas snuggle under the canopies. And, of course, there’s a solar array.
Natural passive systems were employed including natural shading, day lighting, and natural ventilation. So in addition to geo-thermal, solar panels, a TRV, radiant heating, super-insulation and green materials throughout, we can expect a substantial fall harvest from the rooftop.
The architects wanted to save water by utilizing a 1,500-gallon cistern, drought-tolerant plants, a rain garden, and pervious paving. They also wanted flexibility. The house transitions from one to four bedrooms by converting multipurpose spaces. The first floor is 100% ADA adaptable and visitor accessible, promoting “aging in place.”
Carbon impact was reduced by using super-insulated walls and roofs, geothermal wells, 6KW solar array, LED lighting, and an electric car (solar-powered). The architects educated the public by offering pre- and post-construction tours. Vocational school students learned deconstruction methods when removing the dilapidated, existing house previously residing on the site.
The L-shaped plan simultaneously creates spaces that receive light from multiple sides while promoting cross-ventilation. High ceilings and expansive operable glazing seamlessly integrate indoor spaces with the outdoors, while an indoor garden enlivens the stair tower year-round. The stair core also functions as a passive air chimney. Computer-controlled exterior louvers defeat solar gain in summer and optimize passive solar heating in winter.
The living room was designed as a kind of greenhouse – one that could open up completely to the outside.
The kitchen opens out to a raised herb garden.
Clerestories allow light in but not the view.
This vine reaches all three floors.
Two of the baths are complete showers with decking floor boards through which the water drains away.
The form of the building and its landscape are sculpted to store, filter, and reuse rainwater. Rooftop planters and vegetable gardens provide thermal protection, storm-water management, an abundance of seasonal food, and a bird’s-eye retreat.
The house’s walkability credentials are supported by nearby shops and public transportation. Integrated bike racks encourage homeowners to skip the car and start pedaling.
Can you see the glass floor in the living room – it’s designed to bring light to the lower level.
A studio space on the ground level.
Located in an established neighborhood of mostly conventional houses, this project provokes a new way of thinking about how we design, build, and live. The house is an integrated part of the landscape, a testimony to building sustainably without sacrificing comfort and beauty.
Photos: Michael Moran
Hidden Valley Residence is a custom prefabricated structure designed for an active couple as a vacation home by Marmol Radziner, located in Moab, Utah. Hidden Valley sits on an open, hundred-acre site punctuated by red rock formations and cliffs in the arid desert. The design of this incredibly designed 2,500 square foot, two bedroom, two bathroom home blends indoor and outdoor living spaces, with expansive decks that are comprised of 1,720 square feet, floor-to-ceiling windows to take in the expansive views, and an open plan.
The primary axis of the main house runs along a rock ledge, creating dramatic views out over the landscape. With three full sides of windows and sliding glass doors, the views in the great room proceed from southern (looking out over the rock ledge) to western (red rock boulder formations), and finally to the northern views of snow-capped mountains in the distance. The guest wing with an exercise room opens up to views of the boulder formations on one side and the mountains on the other.
The structure is comprised of 15 steel-framed modules that were designed and fabricated by the architecture firm’s prefab division at their production facility in Los Angeles. The building form consists of three main branches that cantilever out over a landscape of sandstone ledge. Deep covered decks provide shading, frame views, and link to a guesthouse and exercise space. A geothermal ground loop system coupled with a large solar PV array take advantage of the site’s renewable energy resources.
Photos: Courtesy of Marmol Radziner
+2edison7 is a stunning renovated LEED platinum residence by Studio 27 Architecture, located at the corner of 27th and Edison Street in Arlington, Virginia. Before the renovation, the home was a modest, two-story colonial, built in the post-war moment when houses were small and cars were large. Today, this mid-century residence is a graceful composition of brick, glass and wood-accented rain screen known as +2edison7—Studio Twenty Seven Architecture’s playfully disjunctive name for this high-performing renovation with humble bones.
As the personal home of one of the principals at Studio Twenty Seven Architecture, this home was a design and research project that sought to revitalize a typical suburban residential building with modern amenities and sustainable retrofits while adjusting the building’s spacial program to account for site conditions and orientation. The renovation more than doubled the volume of the original building, from 1,300 square feet to 2,800 square feet; yet its systems operate at more than 60 percent greater efficiency than before.
The stairway draws inspiration from the way that light dapples down through two maple trees which were on the site. A photo of the maple leaves was adapted to a pixelated contrast pattern and then translated to a template for milling machine, which then milled the wood.
Despite substantially up-sizing the house, the architect’s research led the firm to maintain the neighborhood scale as a reference point. Working off of the existing masonry core, the architects realigned and expanded the home away from the public street and towards the quiet of its garden. The density and rhythm of the neighborhood suggested a design based around scale modulation and precise viewpoints. The house massing builds from the scale of the original core, and a new addition up top opens the house to the site situation. Each window was carefully located to mediate the public-private threshold of the site, focusing on the most compelling views yet allowing privacy and capitalizing on daylighting. The result is a house that is open, capacious and airy from the inside, but discreet and slightly introverted from the exterior.
Sustainable strategies further reduced resource consumption, including energy-efficient LED and CFL lighting, and ENERGY STAR appliances and ceiling fans. To minimize water use, dual-flush and low-flow toilets are used, and showers and faucets are equipped with low-flow aeration devices. Water usage for this single-family home has been cut in half. Additionally, the house’s original wood floors were salvaged, and supplemental flooring was provided by sustainably and regionally harvested forest providers associated with FSC. Countertops are recycled porcelain, glass and mirrors suspended within an epoxy resin. The exterior is a palette of durable, low-maintenance and high recycled content products such as integral color cement board and epoxy resin color panels. Reduced care requirements on products ultimately reduce continued chemical and manufacturing requirements, while also allowing the homeowners to spend more time in their garden.
The home has garnered multiple certifications, including USGBC’s LEED BD+C: Homes v3 Platinum and Home Innovation Research Labs (HIRL, formerly the NAHB Research Center) National Green Building Standard (NGBS) Gold Level. It is also certified as an EPA ENERGY STAR New Home, EPA Indoor airPLUS home, and locally at the Gold level in the Arlington County Green Home Choice award. Finally, the yard is a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat. Indeed, +2edison7 may hold more sustainability accolades than any post-war tract home in the mid-Atlantic.
Photos: Courtesy of Studio 27 Architecture
Project Portable Home ÁPH80 is a design by Madrid based ÁBATON Architects, a dwelling ideal for two people, easily transported by road and ready to be placed almost anywhere. This tiny house is comprised of only 290 square feet (27 square meters), sectioned into private and public spaces and ready for immediate placement. The proportions are the result of a thorough study by the architectural team so that the different spaces are recognizable and the feeling indoors is one of fullness. This low cost pre-fabricated housing solution is priced from $42,862, with an estimated one day assembly time and manufacturing taking approximately 4-6 weeks per unit.
If you’re into mobile architecture, check out a sled house retreat that can be towed off the beach to avoid incoming tides.
It is a simple yet sturdy construction made of materials chosen to provide both comfort and balance. ÁPH80 embodies the principles and objectives of ÁBATON: wellbeing, environmental balance, and simplicity.
ÁPH80 has 3 different spaces measuring 27 square meters (9×3): a living-room/kitchen, a full bathroom and double bedroom. Its gabled roof is 3.5 meters high indoors. Most of the materials can be recycled and meet the sustainable criteria that ÁBATON applies to all its projects.
It blends in with the environment thanks to its large openings that bring the outdoors inside. The use of wood throughout the building not only adds calmness and balance but it is also hypoallergenic. The sourced wood comes from regulated forests (will regrow to provide a wide range of other benefits such as further carbon storage, oxygen generation and forest habitat).
Technical Data: The outside is covered with grey cement wood board. Ventilated facade with 10 centimeters thermal insulation around the building. Solid timber structure manufactured through numerical control; Inside timber panels made of Spanish Fir Tree dyed white. ÁPH80 has been designed and manufactured fully in Spain.
Manufacturing time: 4-6 weeks. Assembly time: 1 day. Transportation by road. We are currently developing simpler series which can be added to the ÁPH80 to suit every particular need, creating larger spaces and contributing to the project’s versatility.
Photos: Juan Baraja
We just received images of this net zero home that was designed by HMH Architecture + Interiors in Boulder, Colorado, for two environmental attorneys. One of the attorneys works for the Environmental Protection Agency so maximum sustainability was the only option. However, the environment wasn’t the only design caveat. The owners—a small family with two dogs—also needed a showcase for their expansive art collection of two- and three-dimensional pieces, and requested casual living spaces to accommodate everyday living.
The house was designed in three zones: public, private and the garage. An entry that functions as an airlock separates the garage from the public zone defining the entry as well as help keeping pollutants from entering the main house.
After interviewing several firms in the area, the owners chose HMH Architecture + Interiors in Boulder, Colorado, a firm that specializes in art collection-driven home design, to create home that would be a work of art in its own right.
A seamless integration of the environment, art and family life, the home is a sculptural plan with long, uninterrupted walls throughout to accommodate and complement the art collection. Windows were carefully sized and located throughout to optimize daylight and art lighting while sheltering the works from direct sunlight.
A living room designed for living. This great room area includes the kitchen, dining area, an open office for homework and telecommuting, a living area for family interaction, and a covered porch for eating and playing outdoors.
To achieve an architectural balance between high-concept design and environmental efficiency, the home was built with sustainable materials throughout, including more cost-effective stucco and metal for the exterior.
“The main goal was to build a house that didn’t leave a carbon footprint,” says principal Harvey Hine, who conducted energy modeling prior to construction, which dictated that the house had to be built with fewer windows than originally intended.
The window design was a study of transparency and heat control optimizing the ideal amount of sunlight to keep the home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. With a 10kW solar intake system on the roof and a hot water solar system, the home produces 140% of its energy every year, and the homeowners sell the excess back to Xcel Energy.
No matter how sustainable or sculptural, a home ultimately has to be comfortable and livable, which was the top priority for this small family who wanted the home to serve as a social center for guests and entertaining. The great room includes a kitchen, dining area and an open office for family interaction as well as a covered porch for eating and enjoying the legendary Colorado weather.
An open office for homework and telecommuting. The result is an integration of the environment, living and art, customized for a specific family.
The house is bright, airy and acts as a backdrop for the art, the landscape, and daily family activity. The result of the integration of the environment, art, and daily family activity which has been customized for a specific family and location.
Photos: Courtesy of HMH Architecture + Interiors
Hupomone Ranch is a certified LEED Platinum project designed by Turnbull Griffin Haesloop Architects, nestled on 150 acres in the Chileno Valley, just west of downtown Petaluma, a city in Sonoma County, California. The ranch is an original homestead that had been neglected for over 30 years and the owners wanted to build a family house that would reflect their commitment to sustainable farming, draw on the natural serenity of the site and build on the sense of place in western Petaluma where farming and ranching are still a part of people’s daily lives.
The site has a wonderful balanced quality to it, and the simple grounded form of the barn is sited to compliment this setting and capture the long views to the coastal range beyond. Entering a low porch on the more opaque north side under the loft above, the light-filled house opens up to the expansive view of Sonoma hills to the south and gathers the bedrooms and kitchen to either side.
The house is certified LEED Platinum and features a number of energy saving features exceeding title 24 by over 50 percent. Passive heating and cooling with thermal mass and insulation, Geothermal, radiant cooling and heating along with solar and photovoltaic panels contribute to the house’s energy efficiency. All materials for the project also had to meet specific guidelines, such as lumber that had been sustainably harvested , products produced within a certain distance from the project, or a specified percentage of recycled content.
An integral part of the design, the landscaping by Lutsko Associates includes several outdoor living areas, organized along a riparian restoration and native plantings. To tie it all together, Erin Martin’s interiors compliment the flow of indoor/outdoor living.
Photos: David Wakely
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