The Craven Gap Residence: Modern Passive Solar Home
Our clients came to us after purchasing five acres of steep mountain land with great views looking down the Beaverdam Valley. Avid hikers and mountain bikers, they bought the land in part because of access to nearby trails and proximity to downtown Asheville. In addition, the south-facing slope allowed them to build the energy efficient, modern passive solar home they had been dreaming of.
We started our process by studying the character of the land and exploring several site design concepts and basic house layouts. The very steep slope required significant retaining walls so we developed a narrow floor plan that worked parallel to the topography. This narrow layout also allowed for daylight to enter on multiple sides of most rooms. These site factors, combined with a tight budget, led us to a design solution that had a simple and compact footprint and minimized driveway and other site work costs.
The upper level has the best valley and mountain ridge views so the main living spaces and master bedroom are organized above a carport, guest bedrooms and an office. Efficient space planning reduced any wasted square footage and packed a lot of functionality into this 2,100 square foot house. Outdoor spaces to the north and south flank the main living space, which visually and physically connect the living area to the outdoors. These outdoor spaces offer a variety of shade and sun, depending on the season, as well as a connection to the surrounding landscape and paths around the house.
Our clients were looking for decidedly modern architecture with a low maintenance exterior and a clean-lined and comfortable interior. We developed a light and neutral interior palette that provides a simple backdrop to highlight an extensive family art collection and eclectic mix of antique and modern furniture. The cantilevered maple shelving is a design feature that displays our client’s art and craft collection and greets visitors as they arrive at the top of the central stair.
Energy efficiency was a major design priority from our clients. The goal was to minimize energy use as much as possible while using cost effective and conventional building techniques. Polished concrete slabs are used on both floors to provide the proper thermal mass for passive solar energy, and roof overhangs were calculated for the correct year-round sun exposure. An efficient thermal envelope, ERV, and mechanical system also minimize energy use and allowed the house to achieve a HERS rating of 50 (50% more efficient than a standard new home). The house is prewired for a future rooftop mounted PV solar system. Standing Stone Builders did an excellent job executing the construction of this energy efficient modern house design.
See more photographs of this project here