Building Green in CaliforniaPosted on: Sep 01, 2010
A New House in Carmel Valley by Duxbury Architects
One of my first projects in architecture school was to design a house for the Mojave Desert using a variety of passive solar devices to control the extremes of heat gain and loss. That was in the 1960s. Nowadays, I have to laugh a little when people get excited about “green design.” I think the concept has been with us as long as people have been building. Vitruvius, the Roman architect and chronicler, has a few chapters on it. While the “nothing is new under the sun” concept is usually universally applicable, it is always interesting to see smart architects take old ideas and give them a new form in their work.
Recently we went to Carmel Valley to photograph a new house by architect Peter Duxbury that integrates old and new energy saving concepts in an artful way. Set on a sun drenched hillside 2000 feet above sea level, the house is cut into the hill with the lower living areas and garage partially below grade. The roof on these portions is earthen, providing a natural layer of insulation. A ground source heat pump re-circulates water from 400 feet below the house to provide energy efficient cooling. Hidden rooftop photovoltaic arrays deliver a positive daytime output to the existing grid. Deep eaves limit the heat gain from broad expanses of glass. Rain water and gray water are captured and stored for landscape use.
Best of all, the house doesn’t look like a space ship or high school science project. It hugs the hill with its roof lines gently angled to match the hill’s contours. Stone exterior walls that provide a degree of heat absorption and insulation are intermixed with stucco and windows. The interior spaces flow together easily with breathtaking views of Carmel Valley and the Pacific. Being eco-friendly and living seemingly on top of the world may seem like an oxymoron, but at this Carmel Valley villa, they just might pull it off.