The Shady House was to be efficient, sustainable, and affordable. Conversely, it was to be built on the heavily forested north face of Mount Guardian, raising serious questions about solar strategies, constructability, and site disruption. To resolve these, we started with a generic cabin and adjusted it to meet construction, sustainability, and program criteria, always looking for opportunities to develop an architectural persona for the house out of these necessities.
The cabin quickly became a monopitch bar, oriented upslope to create a south-facing glazed wall for passive solar heating. A cantilevered roof extension shades the glass in summer and gives the house a decisive character. Structural Insulated Panel construction was chosen for high insulation value and reduced on-site work. The rigid SIPs shell also eliminates roof trusses, allowing the interior to remain a pure volume. This wedge-shaped space is anchored by a castellated concrete block wall running the length of the house. The indigo-stained block provides tempering thermal mass in summer and retains heat from an integrated masonry stove and direct southern light in winter.
As the tight SIPs envelope requires outside air ventilation, energy losses are minimized with an earth-duct intake and exhaust heat recovery. The ventilation ducting also redistributes warmed air from the loft spaces throughout the house. In summer, shading, cross ventilation, and ceiling fans eliminate the need for mechanical cooling.
The house’s prismatic shape is eased into the surrounding forest with simple trellises of dimensional lumber. The impact of the Shady House on scenic views is offset by neutral colors– the walls are lapped cement board and the standing seam roof is color-matched to the late-November forest floor.