Palo Alto Residence. Palo Alto, CA
This new 5,800 square foot home for a family of five is located on a corner lot in Palo Alto, California. Both clients work in the Silicon Valley and have 3 young children. The design is very specific to their close-knit family needs, and their unpretentious life-style. Overall, the house was designed to be very contemporary, but with warm authentic materials and refined details - accommodating casual living.
The flat corner site is divided up by the bent linear configuration of the house into the ‘public’ street sides that wrap the corner and the more ‘private’ interior. A breezeway from the street leads to the entry and the yard beyond, while also dividing the main house from the garage and studio. The second floor bridges over these two which becomes the ceiling of the breezeway.
The lower part of the house has primary walls made of ‘rammed earth’, while the upper floor is framed in wood and steel, and is clad in wood siding plus aluminum panels. Between the two is a ribbon of glass that makes the upper floor appear as if it is floating above the lower.
Deconstruction of the previous house
The existing house was an unremarkable mix of styles and spaces—a 1930s structure that was haphazardly added onto over the years. The site also included a pool which was deconstructed as well.
Typically a house would be demolished and the waste shipped to a landfill. In this case, the house was deconstructed piece by piece over the course of a five-week period. Most of the materials that were not objects, such as plumbing and electrical fixtures, were broken down and shipped to nearby recycling centers. The balance of the materials were either broken down and reused in some other form, i.e. gypsum and plaster were reused as road base or filler in other construction. A company called the Re-use People took other materials, i.e., clay roof tiles, windows and light switches for resale.
While deconstructing the existing pool, the subsurface soil was found to be a good match as base material for the rammed earth walls of the new house. About 50% of the material in the new rammed earth walls is comprised of soil from the site.
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