The "Bigger is Better House" does not merely scale a typical American house resulting in an inflation of space, but rethinks its programmatic composition and infuses it with informal programs. The house is conceptually an extended family residence - up to 12 people will be living in it - and informal programs will stimulate social co-habitation and interaction. Technically the home has the waist of a sumo wrestler, but the ecological footprint of a geisha. With our design we want to demonstrate that bigger can also be better, when increased density leads to more efficient use of energy resources and at the same time allowing for more social interaction. The project located in the Los Angeles area will start construction by the end of 2011.
Chinese Courtyard House
The clients are an American-Chinese with a strong notion of their unique cultural disposition So we designed the “Bigger is Better House” as a Chinese courtyard house, but unlike the traditional version which spreads out horizontally, it stacks three courtyards on top of each other. Thus we were able to minimize the footprint of the building on the steep hillside.
Amazingly our clients had only one mandate for us before we started designing the project: the house had to be at least 10.000 sqf! To design a house of this size we couldn’t simply scale a typical american home - which would result in a mere inflation of space. When re-thinking the programmatic composition of the house we quickly realized the opportunity to infuse the home with a number informal and temporary programs.
The facade sun/rain-screen is made of high-end, perforated fibre cement panels. On a very pragmatic level the operable facade surface is designed as a sun-screen to prevent solar heat gain in the hot summer, thereby reducing the amount of energy necessary for cooling. The perforation of the screen is variable in density depending on a set of multiple parameters; e.g. the perforation increases in size in areas that are less exposed to the sun.
When working on the pattern of the perforation, we were designing a contemporary version of a Chinese lotus flower pattern. Surprisingly, it turned out to resonate with the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, as well as with patterns found in local hispanic architecture.
An number of passive and active green technologies will reduce environmental footprint of the residence. Passive design features are a 15% higher insulation then required by code, a centrally controlled, perforated sun/rain screen with manual override, additional shading through the third floor overhang towards the west and south facing facades where the most solar heat gain can be expected and a green roof providing additional insulation, reducing local solar heat gain in the immediate vicinity of the building and the concrete of floors and walls provide thermal mass to balance the room climate.
Active design measures include solar water heating for use and pool water, a PV panel array and an advanced waste water treatment.
Status: Under Construction
Location: California, US