Striking a Balance: Although CCS-Architecture didn’t pursue sustainable design dogmatically, it still prevented a second home from tying to the grid.

Posted on September 21, 2010

0


Best Green Houses
CCS-Architecture
By David Sokol ,Via:greensource.construction.com

 “Architecture is famous for tradeoffs and compromises,” says CCS-Architecture principal Cass Calder-Smith, AIA, “You become a master synthesizer.” In the case of Gold Country Residence, a second home for a young family from San Francisco, CCS had to reconcile the client’s desire to be off the grid with the characteristics of the residence’s site and the active sustainable technologies at the firm’s disposal…

Best Green Houses: Gold Country Residence
Photo © Cass Smith
Best Green Houses: Gold Country Residence
CCS-Architecture
 
…Located in the Sierra Nevada foothills near the town of Murphys, California, the site originally sported an Airstream in which mom and dad spent weekends. “They liked it, because it was so simple and noncommittal,” Calder-Smith explains, adding that they hoped a self-sufficient permanent building would nurture their interest in low-impact living, sustain the camping feel of the trailer, and avoid the infrastructural investment of grid-tying…
Best Green Houses: Gold Country Residence
Photo © Brendan Macrae

…For the new building, the client selected a location a short hike from the Airstream. “It’s got beautiful views to the north and west,” Calder-Smith says, “It would have been very easy to build a house entirely oriented to these views, for sitting in the living room and staring.”…
Best Green Houses: Gold Country Residence
Image Courtesy of CCS-Architecture 

…But, in addition to going off the grid, the client insisted on a courtyard that would serve as a counterpoint to the openness of the mountainside area. “So we came up with a way to do both”: The house comprises two modest volumes—made of SIPs and clad in cedar—configured in what Calder-Smith calls “a kind of boomerang.”…
Best Green Houses: Gold Country Residence
Photo © Brendan Macrae 

…The structure devoted to cooking and other daytime activities looks toward the dramatic landscape…
Best Green Houses: Gold Country Residence
Photo © Brendan Macrae

…while the bedroom wing faces the semi-enclosed courtyard. Low-e windows were salvaged from another project…
Photo © Brendan Macrae
 


Photo © Brendan Macrae

…Although Calder-Smith says that it would have been greener to include one bedroom in the “living” building (that could preclude flipping the switch on the “sleeping” building altogether), he does appreciate that the movement between the two volumes forces users to engage nature…

Best Green Houses: Gold Country Residence
Photo © Brendan Macrae 

…Thanks to the dry climate, Gold Country Residence’s 24 rooftop photovoltaic panels soak up the sun. It also means that the average high temperature this month is 90 degrees…

Best Green Houses: Gold Country Residence

Photo © Brendan Macrae

…To mitigate the relentless heat, CCS expanded the roof, extending that plane 12 feet beyond both volumes. The roof connects the two buildings, too, affecting a prow-like verandah that frames views, and which directs valley breezes into the home and courtyard.

Best Green Houses: Gold Country Residence

Photo © Brendan Macrae

… Several openings in the overhang permit some passive heating in winter, and deciduous vines shade those apertures come summertime The homeowners use the funneled ventilation to their advantage, flushing the building during summer nights when temperatures normally drop into the low- and mid-50s…
Best Green Houses: Gold Country Residence
Photo © Brendan Macrae 

…The thermal mass of concrete floors facilitates that process, and integrated radiant heat provides warmth during the more sporadic wintertime visits. Calder-Smith says the radiant system’s propane boiler performs at 96 percent efficiency, and a wood-burning stove in the living-room vignette also produces little waste…
Best Green Houses: Gold Country Residence
Photo © Cass Smith 

…Calder-Smith understands the inherent contradiction of developing property, even a sustainable home, in an otherwise pristine place. Yet he also notes that preventing electricity poles from scarring the landscape, and keeping the design from swelling beyond its 1,750 square feet, qualify as relatively fair tradeoffs…
Best Green Houses: Gold Country Residence
Photo © Brendan Macrae 

…And should the young family decide to use their right-sized second home for consistently longer stays, the rooftop and freestanding power shed are already prepped for additional photovoltaic panels and storage batteries.

Advertisements