Architects David Arkin and Anni Tilt found a balance between passive design strategies—plenty of natural light, maximized winter sun, shaded harsh summer rays, and cross-ventilated breezes—and the latest in green technologies in this Santa Cruz strawbale house. Photo by Gabriela Hasbun. See the house come together in a "bale-raising" gathering here.
Architects David Arkin and Anni Tilt found a balance between passive design strategies—plenty of natural light, maximized winter sun, shaded harsh summer rays, and cross-ventilated breezes—and the latest in green technologies in this Santa Cruz strawbale house. Photo by Gabriela Hasbun. See the house come together in a "bale-raising" gathering here.
Ed Caldwell Photography
Ed Caldwell Photography
Curving timbers were manufactured on-site, and used to support the curving corrugated metal roofs.
Curving timbers were manufactured on-site, and used to support the curving corrugated metal roofs.
Rice straw bale, sourced from a local farmer, were placed on top of the Watershed Block walls, sequestering carbon while insulating the home.
Rice straw bale, sourced from a local farmer, were placed on top of the Watershed Block walls, sequestering carbon while insulating the home.
Selecting the 'Big Sky' site allowed the driveway to be routed further from the creek, and eliminated a ranch road that had been channeling rainwater runoff into the creek.
Selecting the 'Big Sky' site allowed the driveway to be routed further from the creek, and eliminated a ranch road that had been channeling rainwater runoff into the creek.
The kitchen has become the social center of the house: a place for sunny mornings with the paper, kids' homework in the afternoons, and intimate dinners with friends and family.
The kitchen has become the social center of the house: a place for sunny mornings with the paper, kids' homework in the afternoons, and intimate dinners with friends and family.
The flat ceiling was removed, and fir paneling filled the gaps between the angled roof joists.
The flat ceiling was removed, and fir paneling filled the gaps between the angled roof joists.
The bowling lane table is supported on a mobile steel base incorporating skateboard wheels for easier access to storage in the bench seats.
The bowling lane table is supported on a mobile steel base incorporating skateboard wheels for easier access to storage in the bench seats.
The original Wedgewood stove is featured, set against a panel of hot-rolled steel, and flanked by long countertops from salvaged bowling alley lanes.
The original Wedgewood stove is featured, set against a panel of hot-rolled steel, and flanked by long countertops from salvaged bowling alley lanes.
Storage for plates and glassware is integrated into seat backs with lifting panels mounted on drawer glides.
Storage for plates and glassware is integrated into seat backs with lifting panels mounted on drawer glides.
After removing the sheet vinyl flooring, the interesting striped pattern of the subfloor was revealed - and left exposed to mark the mysterious history of the house.
After removing the sheet vinyl flooring, the interesting striped pattern of the subfloor was revealed - and left exposed to mark the mysterious history of the house.
Punched steel panels provide a modern take on the old "pie safe" ventilated pantry.
Punched steel panels provide a modern take on the old "pie safe" ventilated pantry.
A truth window shows the straw bale insulation of the main building structure.
A truth window shows the straw bale insulation of the main building structure.
Working with the slope and orientation, the home is sited to take advantage of the dramatic views.
Working with the slope and orientation, the home is sited to take advantage of the dramatic views.
The earth finish, slatted cement board siding, and metal roofing harmonizes with the landscape and take advantage of the changing desert light.
The earth finish, slatted cement board siding, and metal roofing harmonizes with the landscape and take advantage of the changing desert light.
The photovoltaic trellis is supported on salvaged ore-cart track - connections to supports feature ore cart wheels found at a local salvage yard.
The photovoltaic trellis is supported on salvaged ore-cart track - connections to supports feature ore cart wheels found at a local salvage yard.
Careful shading, high insulation values and thermal mass keep the structures from over-heating in the summer, aided by flushing of cool night air.
Careful shading, high insulation values and thermal mass keep the structures from over-heating in the summer, aided by flushing of cool night air.
The horizontal blue-stained siding wraps to the interior core at the entry - translucent glass floor panels bring daylight to the lower level.
The horizontal blue-stained siding wraps to the interior core at the entry - translucent glass floor panels bring daylight to the lower level.
The courtyard is sheltered from the frequent winds coming off the Sierras as well as the harsh summer sun.
The courtyard is sheltered from the frequent winds coming off the Sierras as well as the harsh summer sun.
Passive and active systems make the home virtually energy independent.
Passive and active systems make the home virtually energy independent.
Salvaged ore-cart wheels.
Salvaged ore-cart wheels.
Salvaged materials featured in this home include lumber from an airplane hanger, airplane wings, ore-cart tracks, and found glass.
Salvaged materials featured in this home include lumber from an airplane hanger, airplane wings, ore-cart tracks, and found glass.
Strwa bale walls with a earth finish (using soil from the site) are punctured with windows that frame the ridge across the valley.
Strwa bale walls with a earth finish (using soil from the site) are punctured with windows that frame the ridge across the valley.
Expressive use of alternative construction techniques, solar technologies, salvaged materials and daylight provide texture as well as function.
Expressive use of alternative construction techniques, solar technologies, salvaged materials and daylight provide texture as well as function.
The south-facing roof of the main living space peels up at the corner for passive solar gain and for dramatic view of snow-capped Job's Peak to the southwest.
The south-facing roof of the main living space peels up at the corner for passive solar gain and for dramatic view of snow-capped Job's Peak to the southwest.
Found glass was recycled into countertops for the kitchen.
Found glass was recycled into countertops for the kitchen.
Located 3600 foot elevation, the house mediates the northern edge of a forest glade.
Located 3600 foot elevation, the house mediates the northern edge of a forest glade.
Photovoltaic panels on the roof harvest electricity, stored in batteries, powering the well pump and other domestic needs.
Photovoltaic panels on the roof harvest electricity, stored in batteries, powering the well pump and other domestic needs.
The entry/mudroom, bath and mechanical space are located in a wood-framed volume a half level up from the main living space.
The entry/mudroom, bath and mechanical space are located in a wood-framed volume a half level up from the main living space.
The simple straw-bale and earth-plaster walls contains a grand living space that opens to a south terrace.  A sleeping bay extends out from the main space.
The simple straw-bale and earth-plaster walls contains a grand living space that opens to a south terrace. A sleeping bay extends out from the main space.
Solar hot water collectors provide domestic hot water as well as space heating by flowing the heated fluid first through a heat exchanger and then into tubing buried in a three foot bed of sand beneath the floor slabs.
Solar hot water collectors provide domestic hot water as well as space heating by flowing the heated fluid first through a heat exchanger and then into tubing buried in a three foot bed of sand beneath the floor slabs.
Salvaged wood is used for siding and exposed structure throughout the space.
Salvaged wood is used for siding and exposed structure throughout the space.
A sleeping loft is tucked above the kitchen and dining space.
A sleeping loft is tucked above the kitchen and dining space.
The tall gable provides attic space above teh guest room, and play lofts above the kid's bedrooms.
The tall gable provides attic space above teh guest room, and play lofts above the kid's bedrooms.

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