written by:
photos by:
March 29, 2014
Spatial efficiency meets energy efficiency in this Bay Area home designed by an architect for his parents.
green sustainable residence exterior
Through an integral relationship between use, form, and material, the Low/Rise House responds sensitively to site, nature, and neighborhood, creating a new type of suburban living – both urban and rural.
Photo by 
1 / 8
green sustainable residence
The first floor consists of two long and narrow structures that intersect in an open kitchen, providing distinct programmatic areas and settling into the tree-lined landscape, allowing yards to surround and permeate each room.
Photo by 
2 / 8
green sustainable residence
Large sliding glass doors suspend the living room within the landscape for family gatherings or larger events.
Photo by 
3 / 8
green sustainable residence
Maximizing daylight is only one of the sustainable design strategies used in the Low/Rise residence.
Photo by 
4 / 8
green sustainable residence
The relationship between interior and exterior becomes crucial in the articulation of the residence.
Photo by 
5 / 8
green sustainable residence bedroom
The private master suite opens into a fern garden in the eastern corner of the site.
Photo by 
6 / 8
green sustainable residence night exterior
A compact and vertical guest tower is sited at the western corner of the lot amongst tall evergreens, allowing for a more private guest experience, more compact floor plan, and the ability to effectively shut off (socially and energy-wise) the guest spaces zone by zone during typical daily use.
Photo by 
7 / 8
green sustainable residence roof deck
Atop the 30-foot tower, a roof deck emerges through the trees, providing a unique vantage point of the structure below and the surrounding townscape.
Photo by 
8 / 8
green sustainable residence exterior
Through an integral relationship between use, form, and material, the Low/Rise House responds sensitively to site, nature, and neighborhood, creating a new type of suburban living – both urban and rural.
Project 
Low/RIse House

Located on a half-acre lot in the heart of Silicon Valley, the Low/Rise house can be seen as a counter proposal to the suburban McMansion, or any costly, sprawling, and energy wasting development for that matter. In its modest proportions and a strong sense of environmental awareness, this single-family residence suggests a more flexible and sustainable approach to a suburban home. 

Designed by San Francisco-based Spiegel Aihara Workshop (SAW), the Cotton Street residence integrates elements of the ranch house and adapts them to our increasing need for a greener architecture. The architects drew from a wide array of design strategies in order to make the building more sustainable, striving for maximum flexibility of living configurations along with high energy savings. Designed with a sense of consideration for the site, the residence takes advantage of natural lighting and passive ventilation, while its owners equipped the spaces with energy efficient appliances, radiant floor heating, and a solar system for energy generation.

Although environmental performance was a crucial consideration in the design for the Low/Rise house, the social aspect of the residence played an important role as well. Built for Spiegel's parents, the house was designed through interlocking bars of shared and private spaces that make it comfortable for the everyday needs of the residents, while providing additional space for entertaining purposes. The home is surrounded by lush gardens, designed by Aihara, that frame the living spaces and provide the roof deck of the three-story tower with an exquisite view. The fluid connection between the interior and exterior helps make the residence seem both intimate and airy, depending on the situation. 

Although Spiegel and Aihara have a personal connection to the residence, they also consider it a step towards reimagining suburban housing. As Spiegel notes, "the organizational concept of the house could be deployed as a new suburban housing type for a whole range of budgets." In its restraint and efficiency the Low/Rise house proposes a suburbia that, through a close relationship between form and material, responds sensitively to the site, nature, and neighborhood. 

 

 

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

45 dva 2270 persp1 cmyk 0
The prospect of retirement doesn’t just signal the end of a career; it offers the chance to recalibrate and re-prioritize in life.
July 25, 2016
18
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016