For the past 50 years, the single family home has seen little in the way of innovation. California’s case study projects reflected a desire to make housing available to the masses, but over the years this initial goal was lost. Now still fresh in the 21st Century, we again face the challenge of delivering desirable homes, but have the added responsibility of maintaining a sustainable ideology.

In our proposal for the Decatur Modern Design Challenge, we used the ‘sustainable necessity’ as a guiding factor for the design. Materials throughout the construction are recycled, low energy, and long-life components. Interior panels are made from bamboo harvested renewable forests and will be specified as low-v.o.c. The roof and certain structural members are composed of recycled steel. Other materials work to relieve the environment in different ways; for instance, the decomposed granite of the driveway is porous, allowing the land to absorb rain water that would otherwise be shed into storm sewers.

The majority of heating and cooling can be accomplished by passive means. Roof overhangs, deciduous trees and low-e glass work to shade the structure from heat gain, while abundant glass daylights the interiors. Cross ventilation and ceiling vents, with high performance (and recycled) insulation will maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the year. Photovoltaic cells and solar heating tubes can provide enough energy for the majority of the year, and offer the opportunity to supply power back to the grid.

Modern ideology is reinforced by the home’s spatial features. The entry can be reconfigured to fit the needs of the owners. It can be used as a carport for two automobiles, or can house one car plus a porch and garden within steps of the front door. The traditional southern porch now also occurs on both levels as the master bedroom opens to a shaded deck above, offering an elevated view to the street. Finally, the connection to the landscape is furthered by a seamless extension toward the rear of the lot, offering another shaded place of relaxation.

Project Team: Mario Cipresso, Chris Warren