A major aspect of sustainability is using what already exists in means of providing a comfortable dwelling. The Atherton House in Atherton, California is an ideal example of how to incorporate manmade elements that pre-exist on a site to benefit that site.
The Turnbull Griffen Haesloop architectural firm is responsible for the house which was finished in 2008, after the original home from the 1950’s was demolished due to structural issues. They teamed with landscape architect Lutsko Associates to finalize the project.
The home’s owners requested to have their own private retreat and to be able to host dinner parties indoor and outdoor year round. As stated on Turnbull Griffen Haesloop’s website,
“They wanted their new house to be a private retreat that maximizes the drama of the pond and takes advantage of the privacy of the site.”
The resulted program is four buildings all which surround the garden, pool, and pond. The buildings are:
- The main house
- The study
- The pool house
- The garage
The pond is crucial to the sustainability of the home, as it is the air conditioner. It, along with overhangs, shades, and operable windows, cools the air before it enters the house where the floor is used as a thermal mediator which helps maintain a constant room temperature.
Using water as means of an air conditioner was a common historical practice that seems to have been forgotten or overlooked in the past few, technologically advanced, years in the United States. Other countries, though, have continued to use water in more economical fashions. Britain has water mills which can be found running factories, and in the Roman Empire pools were used and made to store water and to cool areas. The idea that water can do all of these things is amazing and it is no wonder that many new buildings are going back to old techniques with the use of water cooling and heating systems.
Other sustainable materials that are incorporated in the Atherton House are
- Fly-ash concrete
- Formaldehyde-free casework
- Denim insulation
- Photovoltaic and solar hot water panels that are enclosed in the roof
Turnbull Griffen Haesloop in an architectural firm that is dedicated to sustainability and they were able to use the pre-existing elements and surroundings to make the Atherton House unique and inspiring, a personal retreat that the owners can be proud to show off.