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Sustainable modern design at Wheeler Residence, California


Wheeler Residence is a 2007 project designed by San Francisco-based architectural practice, William Duff Architects. The luxury single-family home was completed in under three years and can be found in Menlo Park, California, US.

According to the architects: “Our clients came to us with a vision of a home that seamlessly integrates sustainable building with modern design. We developed a project that blends elegant, innovative architecture with green building strategies to create inspiring spaces carefully crafted for everyday living.  The project consists of a 4,845 sq ft, main house with four bedrooms, four baths and a 498 sq ft cabana with a guest room and full bath as well as a pool.”

The design is governed by a careful system of proportioning based on the Fibonacci sequence that functions to relate the parts to the whole at different scales. For example, rooms gradually increase in scale from the periphery to the center of the house, culminating in the lofted central family room which acts as a focal point. The same system governs the design of windows and built-in cabinetry within each room. Doors that function as ‘opening walls,’ continuous concrete floors, and custom casework pieces that define living spaces without fully enclosing them, establish flow between different spaces and activities. Likewise, the large corner door system at the family room blurs the distinction between inside and outside. The clerestory windows above allow the ceiling to float while drawing in the light and colour of the surroundings.

To achieve their client’s goal of a truly integrated design required that every element of the project to play a dual role – both as a necessary part of the architectural design and a component of an environmentally conscious strategy – to the point that these roles had to became indistinguishable. For example, the elimination of interior partitions and the use of custom cabinetry to define functional areas allows for improved natural day lighting of interior spaces, as well as natural ventilation of the structure.

“The site, the existing structure, and the use of material and energy all played important roles in the development of the final design. Most of the original house was either salvaged using Whole House Demolition, or reused, as in the case of the existing foundation. Solar hot water and photovoltaic power dramatically reduce energy use, while passive strategies, such as using the central tower clerestory windows to ventilate the home, eliminate the need for mechanical cooling. The resulting project exceeds the requirements of 2005 Title 24 energy standards by 38 per cent.

“Viewed as a whole, the spatial and material elements of the building establish continuity while retaining warmth – the home is both expansive and intimate, a collection of elegantly designed spaces meant to be enjoyed.”

Images courtesy of Lucas Fladzinski, Jim Thompson and Destination Productions

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May 9, 2013 | Property | View comments

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