Mies van der Rohe once said, "We must remember that everything depends on how we use a material." In this Palo Alto, CA, residence constructed from rammed earth, steel, and glass, and finished in white oak, ipe, and American walnut, architect Cass Calder Smith of CCS Architecture holds true to Mies' dictum. Thanks to the liberal use of natural materials, the house attains a comfortable sensibility noticed by nearly everyone who passes through its earthen walls. "Guests are, without exception, completely taken by how the house is very modern, but also very warm," say the owners, who wish to remain anonymous.
The residence consists of two main masses: a rammed earth base made from soil excavated from the site and a long ipe-clad wooden box that cantilevers over the ground floor. Bifurcating the forms is a slim glass band that wraps around the building, making it seem like the upper story hovers independently of its base. In addition to an almost reverential treatment of materials, the residence is imbued with a strong green ethic evidenced by the passive cooling features, a drought-tolerant "meadow" landscape, PV array, and radiant floor heating. Smith says this was the most complicated house he'd designed, but maintains that nothing was dogmatic. "It's not about being 'green' or 'cool' or making a monument; it's about the fundamentals of architecture," he says.
Showing image @current of @total
- Harnessing the power of dirt, sand, soil, and earth, these projects prove that modern houses are not just made of glass and steel.
- When compiling the list of the 20 most popular modern homes featured throughout Dwell's 12-year history, certain themes began to surface: small space projects, renovations, unconventional living…
- This year, Build it Green celebrates the completion of its 10,000th GreenPoint rated home.
- A spot to foster conviviality with passersby, a place to perch a chair and enjoy the outdoors, a threshold between inside and out, and an informal living room for neighborhoods—the porch is…
- On a secluded plot of land in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, Brooklyn's Lubrano Ciavarra Architects crafts a modern weekend house designed to frame its landscape.
- Some of the coolest houses, literally and figuratively, are underground—built into the land. To see three subterranean high-design homes, click through our slideshow.
- Perhaps best known for cheese, beer, and Bart Starr, Wisconsin has emerged in recent years as something of a laboratory for intelligent, modern architecture.
- As artist Christopher Griffin and aesthetician Oresta Korbutiak prepared to renovate their live-work space in Ottawa, the couple sought an architect who would respect the bones of the building, the…