From Altura Architects
This modern passive and active solar residence sits on steep mountain land with great views looking down the Beaverdam Valley in Western North Carolina. The house is on a south-facing slope that allowed the owners to build the energy efficient home they had been dreaming of.
The steep forested site required creative site planning and space planning to minimize land disturbance and construction costs. We developed a narrow 20’ wide plan oriented parallel to the topography. Efficient space planning packed a lot of functionality into the 2,100 square foot house. Outdoor spaces flank the main living space, which expand the living area to the outdoors. The upper level has the best views, so the main living spaces and master bedroom are on the second floor and stack over a carport, guest bedrooms and office.
Our clients were looking for distinctively modern architecture with a low maintenance exterior and a clean-lined and comfortable interior. We developed a light and neutral interior palette that provides a simple backdrop for an extensive art collection and eclectic mix of antique and modern furniture. The cantilevered maple shelving displays our client’s family art and craft collection and greets visitors as they arrive at the top of the central stair.
The main design directive from our clients was to minimize energy use while still using cost effective and conventional building techniques. Polished concrete slabs are used throughout to provide the proper thermal mass for passive solar energy, and roof overhangs were calculated for the correct year-round sun exposure. An efficient thermal envelope, ERV, and conventional heat pump mechanical system also minimize energy use. The house achieved a HERS rating of 50 (50% more efficient than a standard new home) after it was completed. Though, since completion, the homeowners installed a 5 kW roof mounted PV system that will bring the house to, or close to, net zero energy use.