Mies van der Rohe once said, "We must remember that everything depends on how we use a material." In this Palo Alto, CA, residence constructed from rammed earth, steel, and glass, and finished in white oak, ipe, and American walnut, architect Cass Calder Smith of CCS Architecture holds true to Mies' dictum.
The large windows shown here open up allowing hot air to escape during the summer months, a passive cooling technique that helps the residents stay comfortable without an air conditioner.The house boasts a number of green features, which begun with the demolition of the pre-existing residence that dated from the 1930s. Over a five-week period, the old house was carefully deconstructed and its materials were either reused in the new house, donated to the local ReUse, or taken to recycling centers.
Katja and Adam Thom’s cabin, on an exposed postglacial archipelago in Canada’s windswept Georgian Bay, is more than eight miles from the nearest road. Angled openings in the roofline function as both windows and vents, allowing views and cross-breezes. A dining table completes the nearly all-wood room.
For Paul and Shoko Shozi, a pair of retiring Angelenos, the goal was to shut out the neighborhood but bring in the sunny skies. Their new prefab home, the Tatami House, designed by Swiss architect Roger Kurath of Design*21, makes a central courtyard the physical, and maybe even the spiritual, center of the home. On a fine Marina del Rey morning, Paul shows us around.
A deft cross-ventilation system keeps things cool in the summer. A series of tilt-turn low-E wood window-doors by Swiss manufacturer Gautschi not only allows passage to the side yard and a bit of extra natural light but, when tilted down, permits breezes to pass through the house.
The winding stairwell in this Boston renovation runs from the ground-floor offices all the way to the top of the house, creating an airshaft for natural ventilation and passive cooling.
This budget-friendly shipping container home's slanted design creates a wind tower effect, providing natural ventilation that negates the need for air conditioning.