Designing a smart, functional, modern home shouldn't be about "being 'green' or 'cool' or making a monument," as architect Cass Calder Smith of CCS Architecture says. Rather, it should be about the fundamentals of architecture and creative, innovative uses of materials. This was certainly the case for this Palo Alto, California residence, constructed from rammed earth, steel, glass, and plenty of wood. And though "going green" wasn't the primary intent, the home nonetheless boasts serious green cred, including passive cooling features, a drought-tolerant "meadow" landscape, PV array, and radiant floor heating.
Instead of concrete, the walls are composed of rammed earth. (The thermal mass helps to insulate the interior from heat in the summer and cold in the winter.) Large windows allow hot air to escape during the warmer months, and instead of a standard lawn, you have xeriscaping-drought-tolerant landscaping— in this case, a meadow of maintenance-free native grasses and installed artificial turf. 65 feet of sliding glass doors separate the kitchen and dining room from the porch, which make for a great indoor/outdoor space, while the roof houses photovoltaic (PV) cells and a thermal water system that heats the domestic hot water and preheats the water for the radiant floor heating installed throughout the residence.
(Image: Joe Fletcher for Dwell)