Green Alchemist's Residential Compound - The McKinley Residence is David Hertz's live in laboratory for modern - environmentally friendly - residential design. Converting common elements into green design, it's feature packed. The house is a true testament to David's commitment to the cause and to top it off forms a homely modern residence, showcasing practical design elements, fine tailored for a young family.
Aimed at "spreading the word", the Studio of Environmental Architecture is David Hertz's latest venture, leading the way in Eco friendly design and sharing what he's learnt both through his residential work and his own house. Many thanks to the team at Studio EA for the details on this house.
Designed as a new house when Venice was till a rough neighbourhood the house presents a relatively strong/protective façade at street level and uses enclosed balconies to extend the upper levels and take full advantage of sea breezes.
The house consisted of two pavilions connected by a bridge, and was already cutting edge (environmentally) through its use of Syndecrete®, which contains about 41% percent recycled content and is twice as light, with twice the compressive strength, of normal concrete. Syndecrete® is David's own development and one of many featured in the residence.
It is now a compound made up of four discrete two-story buildings linked by three enclosed bridges that all face onto the courtyard.
Style "Balinese Modern"
Working it through
There was only one snag in the whole process. David is staunchly in favour of green design, the mere fact of adding that much space nagged at him. "There's no getting around the fact," he says, "that on a purely ecological level, 4,400 square feet is a lot of house by most of the world's standards."
His solution was to make the house the greenest house of its size he'd ever seen. Hertz used this house as a case study for green building techniques. An array of 20 solar collector panels on the roof help generate about 70 percent of the home’s electricity needs, and other sections of the roof are given over to flat-plate collectors that provide hot water to the water heater, which then sends it into a radiant heating system in the concrete floors.
I've no beef with the results, David's family expanded and so has his residence, the house is all used and as much as we battle with the urges, who wouldn't want their own compound like this. David's innovative materials and willingness to push for a more environmentally sound house is exemplary.
The materials used were chosen carefully to support environmental sustainability and the design intent. Recycled and FSC certified sustainable woods such as Ipe, Mahogany, and Fir, are used throughout the house to complement the Syndecrete®.
The Syndecrete® acts inside the house as a kind of “solar sink” for passive solar energy transfer, storing up the sun’s warmth during the day, and thus keeping it from overheating the interior, and then slowly releasing that heat during the night. Syndecrete® flooring was chosen for several reasons; it eliminates mold and dust caused by carpet, requires less maintenance, and is more environmentally sensitive than carpet, wood, or other floor finishes.
In order to maintain excellent indoor air quality, David used zero VOC paint, and eliminated a forced air system and carpeted floors, and with them mould and dust.
Another bonus of these materials is the resultant durability and functionality of the house. Its for living in. Rather than begin a minimalist box (don't get me wrong they have their place) the house portrays both David's design innovations, but also the family's efforts, endeavours, favourite drawings, posters, toys, etc. And it's a tough house.
You can see here one of my favourite shots showing the utilitarian nature of the house, and how its designed for a family.
Yup, David's hosing it down, an ability that's now on the list for my house. You can also see that playful design feature to let the kids feel its their house too, a pint size door for them.
Hopefully in the images, you'll spot some of these fantastic features.
- Passive Ventilation – eliminating the need for a forced air system the shaded front living area naturally ducts cool air up thought the house and stairwell, then out the temperature sensitive skylights.
- Solar Energy – an array of 20 solar panels on the roof supply around 70% of the home's energy needs
- Photovoltaic Panels and Flat Plate Collectors – providing hot water to the water heater and subsequently the radiant heating system in the concrete floors. David says to heat the place, with these panels installed takes about as much energy as a 60w light bulb, all taken from his solar array.
- Vacuum tubing on the roof, which uses a parabolic collector to focus the sun’s rays, provides additional hot water
- Recycled FSC certified sustainable woods such as Ipe, Mahogany and Fir
- That Syndecrete®, a light-weight concrete that uses 41% recycled content - it also holds various pigments and textures to form furniture throughout the house, like the kitchen bench, table and bathroom sinks.
- Zero VOC paints
- High performance heat-mirror glazing
- The pool system uses an ionization and silver filter, eliminating the need for chlorine
I've wanted to write about David's work for some time now as his preferred layout for houses draws from tropical bungalows and linked pavilions.
You'll note that he has separated the functional areas of the original house at the bottom, both vertically and horizontally into 4 boxes. The living and dining come entertaining areas at the front are split from the garage at the rear to form an external lounge/fire pit, one that tops my list for "ideal after work summer beer spot".
Above, the bedrooms retreats, with the master bedroom above the lounge, and the children's bedrooms, back away over the garage.
Second only to the fire pit, is the outdoor sleeping area off the master bedroom. In summer time, the enclosed balcony becomes a comfy, cool sleeping area.
This renders the children's original bedrooms as guest areas that convert into a large rumpus room for rainy days. To accommodate the three children as they grow older, David's given them more space (between them and their wing of the house) and space for their guests. They have a bedroom and studio area in the upstairs of the new wing, and mum and dad gain an open plan kitchen/dining area with a wall that opens up completely to the pool and inner courtyard formed between the two wings.
This building is a successful study in architecture that is both aesthetically pleasing and environmentally responsible, whilst functioning as a pair of Levi 501s, hard wearing, sexy and a design classic.