Project: R-House

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By William Lamb / Published by Dwell
Passive solar design, which promotes passive means of generating and retaining warmth over active—and expensive—systems, is central to R-House’s success. Solar gain—chiefly from rear-facing windows that cascade from roofline to threshold on the building’s south side—and heat generated by people and electrical equipment warm the house. A thick, superinsulated, and tightly sealed exterior minimizes heat loss, and an energy-recovery ventilation system transfers warmth from the inside air that is being exhausted to the fresh air being drawn from the outside.
Project: R-House - Photo 1 of 3 - To reinforce the thermal efficiency of the envelope, 16-inch-wide I-joists made from black spruce lumber were employed as wall studs, allowing for what Bernheimer describes as <br><br>a "tremendous amount <br><br>of insulation."

To reinforce the thermal efficiency of the envelope, 16-inch-wide I-joists made from black spruce lumber were employed as wall studs, allowing for what Bernheimer describes as

a "tremendous amount

of insulation."

Project: R-House - Photo 2 of 3 - Laminated tongue-and-groove decking by Lock-Deck was used for the second-level floor. The durable material is sturdy enough to span long distances without joists, maximizing headroom in the first-floor living room.

Laminated tongue-and-groove decking by Lock-Deck was used for the second-level floor. The durable material is sturdy enough to span long distances without joists, maximizing headroom in the first-floor living room.

"The net result," says ARO’s principal, Adam Yarinsky, "is you’re using the energy equivalent of a hair dryer to heat the house."

The house was designed to be flexible. The second level can be extended across the double-height living space to add a third bedroom, for example. As expenses mounted, Yarinsky and Andrew Bernheimer, a partner at Della Valle Bernheimer, dropped plans for a pair of skylights, and settled for drywall instead of the more whimsical translucent polycarbonate panels they’d envisioned to enclose the two bedrooms.

"It doesn’t take that much technology to achieve a certain level of sustainability and a low carbon footprint," Yarinsky says. "It just takes smart use of materials and a strong understanding of how a building’s form relates to its energy consumption.

Project: R-House
Design team: Architecture Research Office, New York, and Della Valle Bernheimer, Brooklyn
Size: 1,100 square feet

Project: R-House - Photo 3 of 3 - To manage costs, Yarinsky and Bernheimer kept things simple. Fiber cement panels and corrugated aluminum, coated with a clear textured finish to prevent corrosion, were used for the exterior.

To manage costs, Yarinsky and Bernheimer kept things simple. Fiber cement panels and corrugated aluminum, coated with a clear textured finish to prevent corrosion, were used for the exterior.