Brunswick House is a single family property that has been designed by Christopher Botterill, located in Brunswick, an inner northern suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The 990 square foot (92 square meters) home is positioned amongst an eclectic mix of residential and industrial building typologies. Purchased as a derelict shell, the building has been recycled using modern spatial arrangements, materials and a strong focus on sustainability.
At the front of the house the two main bedrooms have been retained with a shared robe dividing the rooms. Bathroom and Kitchens areas have been centralised allowing the Living spaces to open out to the garden space and roof deck above. Above the Bathroom is a study/bedroom that is open to the living areas and provides access to a storage space in the roof. The decommissioned fireplace has been retained to support the open roof structure and provide space for the concealed pantry and wine cellar.
When the double doors at the rear of the house are open, the green carpet in the living room visually connects with the soft lush lawn diminishing the definition of inside and out. The layered palette of materials and forms, particularly the black timber box elements, creates a sense of journey and individuality.
A rain water tank is located under the external stairs and is used for irrigation of the organic vegetable garden at the front. Where possible all new materials have been locally sourced and finished by hand during construction. All windows of the existing house have been reconditioned with traditional sash cords and high performance glazing.
Surrounding the house are circular concrete stepping stone pavers set into soft grasses creating a dynamic landscape environment. At points of entry to the house the pavers are densely populated providing a playful representation of bubbles emerging from the house.
Photos: Christopher Alexander
Modern Green Renovation has been carried out by the design team of Marken Projects who turned a 50’s bungalow in Vancouver, British Columbia into a durable, modern and energy efficient home. They added a half storey maximizing the allowable living area (FSR) with the focus on improving the overall energy efficiency, using environmental friendly materials and ensuring a healthy indoor environment for this young family to enjoy. At the same time they gave it a new and exciting look. From the architects, “For us, it is common sense to plan along the Passive Design principles, which essentially means optimizing solar gain, optimizing insulation, ensuring an airtight envelope, installing a high performance heat recovery insulation system and making the house as energy efficient as possible.”
Main energy-efficient features in the home includes: Modern Passive Design, Low-VOC Products, Energuide 86, Air-to-Air Source Heat, Pump for Heating, Airtight Envelope at 1 ACH, Efficient Heat Recovery Ventilation.
The different blue colors on the exterior facade of the residence is stucco. The porch ceiling is engineered cedar wood.
50′s Vancouver Bungalow — Before
Photos: Ema Peter Photography
Net Zero Energy House is modern two-level home completed in 2011 by Klopf Architecture, situated in Cupertino, California. The goal of this project was to score as high as reasonably possible in the “GreenPoint Rated System”. The owners de-constructed their existing home when they realized that any single-story design would completely eliminate their back yard. They wanted the design to be a contemporary interpretation of Eichler in style yet keep their single story neighborhood happy. They wanted to maintain their privacy but also wanted a design that was open and light-filled.
The solution: directed openness, low profile and net-zero energy. The site is a cul-de-sac lot which was the not large enough for a single-story home that would fit the needs of these owners who both work from home. They wanted this to be their “final” residence so Klopf needed to design a larger-than-normal home to suit their lifestyle needs. Instead of adding a second story (and annoying the neighbors) they opted for a partially-submerged lower level that Klopf designed furthest from a basement as possible (with a pulled-back floor plate, a light-filled “atrium” and a lower level light well).
To preserve privacy and bring in light while minimizing unwanted solar heat gain and provide connection to nature, the design team oriented a large window wall north to the back yard while sloping the ceiling of the great room up to increase the light and connection to nature. The sloping roof also provided a surface suitable for mounting the 13.4 kW PV system compared to other building faces that have smaller, punched windows that maximize privacy. The owners were very concerned about the environment, specifically about energy and resource efficiency. They directed Klopf to use materials that would last as long as possible while avoiding “food for termites” and design a high-performance sustainable home.
In conjunction with the Mechanical Engineer they designed a net-zero energy home featuring insulated concrete forms (ICFs), structural insulated panels (SIPs), high-performance windows, cementitious siding, and a 13.4 kW solar Photovoltaic (PV) system sized to cover all the energy use in the house. The new open and light-filled house offers a connection to nature while maintaining privacy. Natural gas would not be used in the home with the possible exception of a backyard BBQ.
Photos: Mariko Reed
Prospect Heights solar is a late 19th century rowhouse that was given a modern overhaul by CWB Architects, located in the Prospect Heights Historic District of Brooklyn, New York. To convert the aging four-story building into a modern, single-family home, the architects completed a gut renovation that included a 1,226 square foot garden-level rental unit. Although mostly new materials and finishes, many details original to the house were salvaged, restored and then integrated into the home’s contemporary aesthetic.
Sunlight finds its way into almost every corner of the 3,362 square foot home through strategically placed skylights and an interior light well. The wood floor in the stair hall, typically the darkest space in a rowhouse, was replaced with walkable glass panels, transforming the space into a tower that diffuses light rather than absorbing it. The effect is replicated from the parlor floor up, terminating in a ceiling punched with two skylights specifically designed to bounce light down into the spaces below.
A sunroom extension benefits from direct southern exposure through a restored bay window and new skylight.
The master bathroom is illuminated by the interior light well which spans 2 stories up to the roof.
In addition to their taste for modern architecture, the owners are inclined toward architecture that is also environmentally friendly. To help reduce the carbon footprint, a new green roof was installed at the extension in addition to a 4.5 kW solar PV array at the main roof. This system reduces the electrical load by up to 80% over the course of the year.
Photos: Francis Dzikowski
Thistle Hill Farm is a single family sustainable home designed by Northworks Architects, located upon a 200-acre farm of rolling terrain in Western Wisconsin. This contemporary 4,500 square foot home (418 square meters) with 3 bedrooms plus bunk room and 3½ bathrooms is a second residence for a Chicago-area family. The property implements today’s advanced technology within a historic farm setting. The farm had been in the family for more than 25 years, and they had forged a strong connection to the property. The old barn, near the top of one of the rolling hills, was in a bad state of disrepair; they had it carefully disassembled in a way that they could reuse the materials in the future. The architects sited the new house just above where the old barn had stood, incorporating the remains of its limestone foundation walls around the pool. Meanwhile, the family made plans to use as much of the old structure as possible for future projects and in some of their furniture.
The arrangement of volumes, detailing of forms and selection of materials provide a weekend retreat that reflects the agrarian styles of the surrounding area. The materials emulate those of barns in the surrounding countryside, with red cedar siding and a tin-coated copper roof that will develop a patina over time. The site has a natural slope, however the architects cleverly designed the lower level to be above-grade on all sides. The lower level contains two guest suites and a large bunk room; guests who come out to the farm usually stay overnight. The bridge leads to a recessed ground-level entryway that in turn leads into the dining area.
Open floor plans and expansive views allow a free-flowing living experience connected to the natural environment. The large hearth is crafted from local limestone, as was the original barn’s foundation. The hearth is two-sided; the other side serves the large front porch. Doors on either side slide into pockets hidden by the fireplace surround, inviting in the summer breezes. The rhythm of the trusses is the same from indoors to out, but they change from Douglas fir inside to steel outside.
The homeowners found the large sign at a salvage place (look closely at the upper-right corner of this photograph and you’ll see the other half). The sign halves silde along barn door tracks and serve not only as art but also as doors between the bridge and the master suite.
Two large ceiling fans provide plenty of cool air. The home is powered by a field of solar panels just southwest of the house. The panels generate energy to power the home and pool equipment and send leftover power back to the grid. The construction is timber frame with structural integrated panels (SIPs) at the roof. The original barn’s rustic purlin and rafter roof construction inspired the structural system, but the new trusses have a cleaner, contemporary look. The wood for the ceilings, soffits and trim is Douglas fir with a clear coat.
The doors on the right lead to the bridge. The barn structure lends itself to a wide-open floor plan, perfect for large gatherings and enjoying the views. The floors throughout are heart pine, salvaged from river-bottom trees. The homeowners saved what they could from the original barn for furniture projects, including the dining table, which a friend made for them. The homeowner made the light fixture himself from metal pipes.
Simple Tolix stools provide perches for plenty of folks to gather around the large island. The large island’s top is butcher block; both the owners are big cooks and enjoy spending time in the kitchen. The rest of the countertops are highly compressed recycled paper.
One of the home’s most contemporary elements is the staircase, but it still nods to the agricultural architectural vocabulary. The stairs are laminated wood and cantilever off a bracket bolted through to a timber stringer beam. The metal railing brings back the traditional farm feeling; its grids were inspired by the kind of fencing one might see around a pig pen.
The top level contains the master suite and this office loft. A patchwork cowhide rug is modern yet references a dairy farm, and plays off the grids on the railings.
The doors lead to a garage built into the hillside and with a garden on top. The outbuildings in the distance are original to the property; you can see some of the crops growing in the distance.
The old barn’s original limestone foundation walls form a terrace between the pool and the house. The pool surround is ipe, a durable and low-maintenance wood.
Photos: Courtesy of Northworks Architects and Planners
Leaving behind a world of urban routines, the client commissioned GarciaGerman Arquitectos to design Ex House, to achieve a feeling of retreat and isolation in the rural setting of the Somosierra mountain range of Spain. The client had abandoned their life of living in downtown Madrid and the term “Ex” refers to this process of leaving and the disadvantages of leaving this world behind. The home’s location takes full advantage of its close proximity to the city, with the property at just 1km. distance from the N-1 highway and one-hour drive from Madrid. A way of life in tune with nature but accessible from the city, appropriate for young dwellers.
The 1,453 square foot (135 square meters) house, camouflaged inside a dense forest, manages to face the views of the granite Somosierra and La Pinilla peaks to the south while looking at the same time to the reddish vast sediment plains that extend to the north, sitting in this geological transition and facing both directions. These views are formalized in two large identical 4,50m. openings situated in opposite sides of the central square-plan living area. This living area has a fireplace and is double-heighted to the north, regulating the inside temperature of the house.
Building systems incorporate high-tech devices in construction methods with a predominant concern for sustainability in the processes and materials employed, offering environmental standards that combine a contemporary level of comfort with the recovery of a secluded lifestyle with all of its charms.
The use of wood and its qualities, not only technical (insulation, easiness in handling, waste reduction) but also cultural and somatic (awareness of a sustainable living, warm textures, comfort connotations), determines the entire working process, providing the house with its characteristics natural and friendly finishes.
The working process was drastically reduced from the usual 13-14 months in buildings of this size (120-140m2) to 3 months, allowing for the house completion in about 8 months from the first drawings, lowering the costs by minimizing transport, reducing displacement of all parts involved and minimizing management phases. The quartering of high-strength cross-laminated wood panels is modulated to fit one single truck which is driven from the Austrian factory. The panel are then assembled on-site by skilled labour (3 people) in a 5 day process.
The house is built without earthworks and placed gently in the shade of a group of existing trees, rehearsing an essential lifestyle which mixes contemporary devices with the recovery of basic activities: fireplace, vegetable garden, septic tank and heat generation system through fire-heated water are combined with 18 cm. mineral-wool thermal insulation, triple gas filled anodized aluminium glazing 6 / 6 +12 +4 mm. and green roofs with a multilayer cover. All these devices add up to a drastic reduction in maintenance costs.
Facades are done with 16cm. wide toothed wooden planks manufactured from cheap local Valsaín (Segovia) pine, recovering a XVI Century local tradition from the Austria-dynasty-era and in disuse nowadays. This closes a circle which starts with the high-tech-prefab “pan-European” structure of the house and ends with the reactivation of a beloved local craft in the house’s enclosures.
Photos: Jorge López Conde
The Deep Eddy Residence is a modern single family home designed by Baldridge Architects in an older neighborhood in west Austin, Texas. The owners, a couple, wished to create a modern refuge and to regain some of the privacy they had previously enjoyed prior to the construction of a looming residence immediately to the west and uphill from their home. In their words, they felt as if they lived in a fishbowl.
Built in the worst part of the “great recession”, the particulars of the design shifted and moved with the exigencies of the budget. The house features fully customized detailing and constitutes a truly green project featuring natural ventilation throughout, a sod roof, foam insulation, insulated 8″ walls throughout, low VOC paint, pine floors, etc. Moreover, we featured an adaptive and organic design process where subsequent design gestures were routinely questioned and tweaked, often using the spoils from earlier construction to achieve elegant and unexpected results.
The 2,500 square foot home provides an open and light environment for its owners, featuring dramatic views of downtown Austin, while addressing the concerns about privacy and drainage. Despite its stark modern lines, the home “fits” in the neighborhood in both context and scale. Most of the exterior is covered in Corten steel.
Kitchen counters made of hot rolled steel, a concrete floor and a stairway built from off-the-shelf lumber provided low-cost modernism.
What was going to be a stone wall in the screened porch is now economical white pine. The fireplace surround was made of steel left over when architects built the window frames.
A tree-house home office and studio.
Warm materials like a steel countertop balance the modern form of the building.
The architects installed clerestory windows and glass railings to maintain the airiness of the central double-height space. On the level below the TV area, screen doors open onto an “outdoor living room.”
Narrow windows maintain privacy on the side of the home facing a neighbor’s three-story house. On the other side, the facade is mostly glass.
Street-front of the Deep Eddy Residence, featuring its sod roof front yard.
Hacienda Ja Ja is a LEED-Platinum home nestled beneath a canopy of live oak trees, designed by Lake Flato Architects, in Alamo Heights, Texas. The 2,328 square foot property is to scale with its neighbors, offering porches that allow its residents to easily engage with activity on the street. Spaces wrap around a small courtyard to maximize natural lighting and ventilation distributed throughout via tall glazings and high ceilings. High-performance features include details like the variety of floors made of polished fly-ash-content concrete, locally sourced stone, engineered wood and locally sourced wood siding installed as a rainscreen system.
Carefully sited to preserve and to protect the live oaks, to promote cross-ventilation and to maximize natural daylighting, the home is also designed to avoid solar thermal gain during the summer and capture passive solar heating during the winter.
Rainwater is collected from the roofs and stored in a below-ground 6,000-gallon tank; during most of the year, captured rain water will supplant domestic water for all landscape irrigation needs.
Photos: Frank Ooms
The Walnut Residence, designed by Modal Design, is located in Venice, California, a beachside community characterized by small lots, an eclectic mix of architecture and a unique blend of personality. This is a low-maintenance, multi-generational home for the principal architects parents, his family, his brother’s children and their many pets. While the tight square footage of the lot and an existing tree constrained the organizational possibilities of the home, the connection to the community, the need for privacy and security, and interest in natural lighting, offered endless possibilities. The 2,700 square foot, three bedroom, single family residence draws upon the site and context for inspiration with a highly efficient layout and indoor-0utdoor connections.
The home is carefully sited to preserve an old-growth pine in the rear yard, which provides generous shade to the main living space and serves as an organizational hub for the exterior program. An exterior Cor-ten wrapper juxtaposes the order and tidiness of the interior and offers a dynamic expression of the client’s tastes and character and lends an almost sculptural quality to the structure. To minimize the building’s impact, efficient design practices and sustainable systems are used throughout.
On the first floor, an open plan flows from living to kitchen to outdoors in one linear motion. Concrete floors, dark-colored furniture and large open spaces negate any need for delicate care, instantly putting everyone at ease.
There kitchen features ample storage areas along the 70-foot long walnut wall-slash-cabinet. The refrigerator, kitchen items and other goods easily disappear into the wall when not in use. The nonporous, stain-, scratch- and heat-resistant Caesarstone countertops make for easy cleanup.
Trex was used on the deck outside, made from recycled plastic and waste wood. The deck is weather-resistant and will never need painting or staining.
The office offers generous views of the backyard, pool and Jacuzzi.
The Cor-ten steel curtain punched with holes keeps the home’s sense of privacy while allowing copious amounts of light to shine through to the interior.
The circular cutouts are re-purposed into a staircase balustrade that adds an artistic element to the home.
The quality of light changes all throughout the year. During the winter, the shadows created by the circles climb up the entire wall of a room; during the summer, they only reach up to the floor. The panels also have a cooling effect, shading the rooms from the sun’s hot rays.
The stone pine tree reveals itself from the backyard looking over the Venice neighborhood. Its canopy stretches over the first floor of the home and can be glimpsed by the skylights placed strategically above the living area.
Before the family purchased this property, it was in the sorriest of states. It was home to a rundown 1920s dwelling piled high with trash and on its last legs. “We walked in for a minute and had to walk back out to get a breath of air then walk back in. It was really thick and moldy—really bad,” states the homeowner of walking through the original home.
Photos: Benny Chan
Monsoon Retreat has been designed by Abraham John ARCHITECTS, situated in Khandala, a famous hill station in the Western Ghats in the state of Maharashtra, India. The 8,363 square foot (777 square meters) private residence is surrounded by a swimming pool and evergreen gardens. The living room was conceived as an “outdoor space” with abundant light and natural ventilation. It opens onto decks and gardens on either side, in keeping with the concept. A continuous wall serves as a textured backdrop to the living room and continues onto the deck, lending it a rustic feel. The cantilevered wood and steel staircase connecting the two floors is set against imposing double height windows; it is bathed in light, allowing luxuriant indoor plants to thrive. The indoor courtyard pathway continues from the staircase area towards the garden. Showers of light are suspended from the ceiling creating a serene ambiance.
The Villa showcases Five Bedrooms (optional Media Room) with attached Bathrooms and balconies. In addition there is a Staff Room, a Kitchen and a Powder Room.
Landscape and lighting design play an essential role in the project: outdoor areas and even indoor courtyards, namely the staircase and dining courtyards abound with greenery. Earth was mounded up, boulders & exotic plants were added to create an interesting entrance. The parking area was paved using green paver blocks which allow grass to grow.
The Dining Room suspends over the private pool, giving the room an island-like feel; the tree in the dining area adds an element of surprise. The Dining island becomes an exotic “outdoor” space where one can enjoy the breeze, the proximity to the water and to the greenery.
The open floor plan makes the Living – Dining – Swimming Pool and Deck areas feel like an expansive lounge.
Three bedrooms are situated on the first floor. The master bedroom is separated from the other two bedrooms via a bridge that spans across the double height space of the living room. The Master Bedroom is a complete suite by itself, made up of a large bedroom looking onto a private terrace, a master bathroom and a walk-in wardrobe. Wooden rafters span the entire Master Suite ceiling, giving it an earthy, out-of-town feel. The bedroom’s wooden flooring brings in beauty and warmth. A walk-on skylight is a unique feature between the bedroom and the terrace overlooking the garden.
One with nature:
The villa is designed in response to site conditions. Sloping roofs have been designed to withstand the extreme monsoons rains experienced in the area. This house allows one to experience nature. The indoor/outdoor boundaries disappear as every room opens up to a private outdoor space (terrace or garden). Outdoor decks and landscaped gardens serve as expansive entertaining areas with artful illumination and mood lighting. Indoor courtyards, skylights, double height sliding-folding windows add to the outdoor feel. Light and shadow add warmth & texture. The carefully chosen, limited palette of materials ensures consistency in design, minimizes maintenance and encourages sustainability.
Spaces created harmonize with their surroundings and encourage sustainability by using “green” materials that accentuate warmth & transparency, whilst aging beautifully: natural sandstone & engineered wooden flooring, large sliding and operable double–glazed windows, which cut down on solar radiation and air conditioning load, allowing for uninterrupted views and access to landscaped areas; automation & LED lights reduce electrical consumption. Cross ventilation ensures minimum use of the AC.
Photos: Alan Abraham