earth sheltered passive solar designs

design northwest


harstine island residence

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This residence is located on a water front site on scenic Harstine Island. The primary design instruction from our client was to absolutely minimize the disturbance of the natural environment. The resulting structure is nestled in the woods, private and barely visible to the outside world.

The flat roof surfaces, which also function as decks, are massed in such a way as to evoke Frank Lloyd Wright’s classic Fallingwater. This design approach was employed to help harmonize the building with the natural landscape. The combination of stucco and cedar exterior finishes further reflects the natural colors and textures of the nearby beach and woods.

The clients desire to not disrupt the closely surrounding woods limited our ability to capitalize on passive solar gain for direct heat. However, there is a great deal of thermal mass designed into the house. This has proven successful in helping maintain stable indoor temperatures.

One of the features of this home is the in-floor electric radiant heat. Danish heating cables were installed directly in the structural slab, which was poured with a pea gravel mix. Before the slab was fully cured it was ground smooth, exposing a beautiful terrazzo finish, highlighted by brass expansion joints every six feet. The resulting floor remains one of our favorites to this day.

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