Entertaining a “Net-Zero” design solution is always a welcome challenge – especially when it’s not about a point scoring system that allows you to call your project “certified.” The Live/Work Micro-Dwelling project in North Carolina was a breath of fresh air for our design team! No restrictions – just design dwelling units that are focused on sustainable lifestyles, affordable, self-sufficient and encourage interaction between residents and nearby college campus.

 Board 1The design incorporates a Geo-thermal air exchange along with energy recovery ventilation for mechanical systems as well as both Solar Thermal collectors to heat water for radiant floor heating. Photovoltaic Arrays are set up to harvest sun energy for an all electric kitchen and battery storage can be utilized at the basement level to store excess power for future use during cloudy days. Rainwater and “grey water” can also be harvested and stored for use in irrigation of landscape and garden beds, toilets and laundry machines.

Generating an aesthetically pleasing composition of articulated boxes is achieved through mixing cladding materials vs. exposing the containers. Exposing them adds interest architecturally and we didn’t want to lose sight of the core organizational element of the container altogether. Stacking boxes doesn’t have to be boring!


On the Boards Part 2

Retreat @ Dusk
retreat @ dusk

Presenting a proposed project rendering with lighting has its challenges, but can create dramatic imagery that makes them well worth the effort. For the lake retreat we saw an opportunity to highlight the clean simple geometry and design aesthetic with such an image. The 3D model was created using Google SketchUp and rendered with Shaderlight.

For designers, it is our responsibility to ensure our clients fully understand the final product they will receive prior to a shovel ever entering the ground. Some architects still rely on 2-dimensional drawings as a way of communication along with savvy salesmanship skills – and yes it still works for some, but reality grabs ahold of an architect at many given points during their career where they must answer a simple question. Will you continue to do what you can to stay current and/or up to date with technology and your colleagues OR will you be “old-school” (whatever that means to each generation of architects?) I won’t say one path is better than the other when it comes to being an architect, but I do have an opinion for architects who have a desire to always push for bettering the environment, their communities, and the built world in which we live. EXPAND your palette of tools to stay creative!

My opinion is modeling and rendering are not a necessary evil in the profession but simply one tool by which we can creatively communicate our ideas. A picture is worth a thousand words – what better way to communicate with our client than a rendering at dusk to make educated decisions about both exterior and interior lighting? A 2-Dimensional drawing and a few pictures of light fixture just aren’t  going to cut it!

On the Boards

Block Day 01 revised

We have currently wrapped up a concept design for a couple’s lake retreat nestled into a wooded lot at Linn Valley Lakes. The project started a few months back with a site visit along with the client to determine appropriate positioning to maximize the lake views while maintaining some privacy. After several rounds of options, we have finally plowed ahead into development of the design.

The retreat’s main living space, kitchen and reading rooms all have magnificent views of the lake while both bedrooms have views of the nearby creek and waterfall. The over-sized windows serve not only to maximize the lake view, but to bring in an abundance of natural light – a key design feature that helps to really enhance the natural material selections for interior finishes of wood and limestone.

The retreat is a 2 bedroom/2 bath, 1,300 square foot modern work of architecture. It will be the first modern home on the lake and the client is looking to develop several other lots on the lake with a similar design. The client intends to break ground this spring.