There is nothing better than deciduous trees to create passive cooling in the summer via the shade of leaves and passive heating in the winter via the lack of leaves, and since mature oak trees have huge leaves they rank among the best passive energy deciduous trees that mother nature has to offer. Mother nature has also given us other ways to make use of passive energy for our homes and with all the advances in building technologies, one of the best examples of this is the use of a living roof for heat dispersal in the summer and heat retention in the winter, with the bonus of adding another place to plant grass, herbs, sedums or even small rooted vegetables.
Turnbull Griffin Haesloop Architects made use of these passive energy tricks when designing Sonoma Residence, located in Sonoma, California, on a gently sloping meadow that softly descends down to a spring fed pond.
The criteria for Sonoma Residence was for a home that embraced an indoor / outdoor lifestyle so that their guests could easily transition from the home to the pool to the pond, and since many days in Sonoma can be very hot, Turnbull Griffin Haesloop Architects included a large shady outdoor sitting area underneath an expanded roofline.
From the vantage point of the walkway leading up to the home, the bridged roofline frames one of the oak trees in a dead center perspective while the living roofs create a vertical connection to the leaves of the same oak.
Since Sonoma is not sunny all year, the terrace has also been designed with an outdoor wood fireplace next to the built-in barbecue. This fire and cooking zone is built from concrete to retain heat long after the fire is out and the barbecue is turned off.
A similar design detail is used in the living room where the wood stove is positioned in front of another cement wall. Other passive heat details are the ceiling fan above that sends the rising heat back down to the living level and photovoltaic powered electric heat pumps that provide hot water for in-slab radiant floor heat.
The kitchen is at right angles to the concrete wall and is positioned under a more intimate ceiling height. Wrapped in Douglas-fir, the kitchen embodies a warm and elegant aesthetic that is factually enhanced by the living roof above.
The taller ceiling in the living room is wrapped in clerestory windows that make the bridged roof outside appear to float. Large expanses of operable glazings slide and stack out of the way so that on a sunny day the journey to and from the outdoor zones is effortless.
The pool is heated with solar hot water panels while the poolside dining area is cooled with large shade trellises.
The pool house features a large drum shaped architectural feature that holds an outdoor fire pit.
The drum shaped detail makes a fun statement inside the pool house playroom. This second building also contains changing rooms, a guest room and a utility room that holds the solar hot water and pool equipment.
Further down the slope is a cozy metal fire pit and a small dock that holds a kayak and a zodiac.
A Jacuzzi is located just outside one of the bedrooms which is positioned under one of the two living roofs.
One of the bathrooms is designed with an indoor entrance on one end and an outdoor entrance on the other. Here, as in the kitchen, the millwork is all Douglas-fir.
Sonoma Residence is designed to be a net zero house and doesn’t require the use of air conditioning to keep the home comfortable in the summer.
Turnbull Griffin Haesloop Architects
Passive heating and cooling designs are becoming more and more popular, with some architects even using a rammed earth wall for passive temperature control.