written by:
photos by:
April 2, 2014
Designed to harness the sun, architect Birgitte Hovmøller's vacation house features a roof full of solar panels and plenty of space for an extended family to relax.
the white composite exterior of a vacation home in California
Ornamenting the eastern facade of the Sunrise House, slotted windows set in one-foot thick walls introduce light into the home without inviting in excessive amounts of heat.
Photo by 
1 / 8
the view of the garden through the windows of the open-concept kitchen and dining spaces
Glass windows wall in the open-concept kitchen-dining spaces of the Sunrise House while glass doors open the spaces out into the garden beyond.
Photo by 
2 / 8
lime green chairs around a dark wood table in a red room full of sunshine
Inspired by Scandinavian and Mexican contemporary and traditional design, the Sunrise house has a bright, clean, and eclectic color palette.
Photo by 
3 / 8
a view of the kitchen from the open-concept dining room

Designed to harness the sun, architect Birgitte Hovmøller's vacation house near San Diego features a roof full of solar panels and plenty of space for an extended family to relax. Finished in a dark wood, the kitchen features white metal countertops and shelving. A white pendant light, white sheer curtain and a white wall tie the interior design scheme in with the home's exterior palette.

Photo by 
4 / 8
an outdoor terrace shaded by mango trees
On the sunset side of the Sunrise house, the home's west terrace is shaded by mango trees.
Photo by 
5 / 8
a wall of windows between the bedroom and the courtyard
Shielding the bedroom from the courtyard, a black curtain affords privacy while the slotted window above the bed ensures that even when privacy is wanted, the room is bathed in light.
Photo by 
6 / 8
a tan stone wall with a white sink
An outdoor sink ties indoor living spaces into outdoor living spaces, adding to the fluidity and openness of the home.
Photo by 
7 / 8
the nighttime facade featuring glass windows and a white thick roof
Windows shielded by the white overhand of the roof offer an elegant facade while shielding residents from the glare of the sun's sharpest rays.
Photo by 
8 / 8
the white composite exterior of a vacation home in California
Ornamenting the eastern facade of the Sunrise House, slotted windows set in one-foot thick walls introduce light into the home without inviting in excessive amounts of heat.
Project 
Sunrise House
Architect 

The Sunrise House, an architect's retreat just north of San Diego, in Vista, California, is bright and solar-powered. With its wide glass windows, a solar-powered water heater and a roof featuring solar panels and a solar electric system, the home uses California's most celebrated element to power all of its modern conveniences.

As one of the two principals of the San Francisco-based Giraph Design firm, Hovmøller specializes in residential work, both on the California coastline and in her home country of Denmark. She built this particular project for her family's use, with her own family and members of her extended family using the home as a temporary vacation residence according to their differing schedules. With a sister in-law living close-by, Hovmøller says, "The daytime activities takes place at my sister in-laws place, and the Sunrise House is the retreat." The 1,800 square foot, two bedroom home also features a 500 square foot workshop on the same property, offering more beds and additional space so all the family is welcome.


Hovmøller's sustainable design decisions extend beyond her use of solar power. Nearly maintenance free walls of Perform Wall paneling, a light-weight, fire-proof, highly insulating, termite proof hybrid material made of eighty-five percent recycled cement, polystryrene and water, secure the home from typical sources of wear and tear. The insulated glass and recycled steel framing of the home's windows and glass doors ensure that it is draft free. The home is cooled, not by a sophisticated cooling system but by natural ventilation from its many windows, with solar-powered fans supplementing on particularly hot afternoons. With drought resistant plants and trees as the only landscaping, the Sunrise house exhibits aspects of passively sustainable design. Instead of employing elaborate or high tech mechanisms to counter moments of environmental harshness, Hovmøller used slotted windows, thick walls and an overhang to shelter the home from summer's most cutting blades of sunlight. '

Such passive solutions reflect the principles of the styles that inspired Hovmøller: Scandinavian and Mexican contemporary and traditional design, which all feature clean lines, and rustic and minimalist elements. Visible from the home's west terrace, the lemon and mango trees fringe the property, reclining over the Sunrise house: the fruit of Hovmøller's labors.

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