Launch Slideshow

Natural Instincts

Natural Instincts

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    Lucas Fladzinski / www.fladzinski.com

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    Lucas Fladzinski / www.fladzinski.com

    Clerestory windows facilitate passive cooling, and the home's rooftop holds both solar hot water and photovoltaic panels.

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    Courtesy William Duff Architects

    The home's floor plan.

Architect William S. Duff Jr. and his clients approached eco-friendliness in a holistic way at the Wheeler Residence in Menlo Park, Calif. They wanted the entire house, including the kitchen, to reflect a subtle, yet strong environmental commitment—one that happily co-existed with the architecture. “The key notion of the project is that sustainability is fully integrated into the design of the home,” Duff says.

To that end, he created an L-shaped, freestanding wall that carves out room for the kitchen at the center of the house. Because it sits within a large, open space, the wall also serves to define a formal living room and a main circulation spine. It stops about 2 feet below the ceiling, allowing natural breezes to waft over the kitchen and up through a cooling tower in the adjacent family room. And the wall's lowered height lets ample daylight into the space, lessening the need for artificial lighting. Another key element of Duff's sustainable approach—a radiant heat system powered by a rooftop solar array—is embedded in floors of stained flyash concrete. The kitchen cabinetry and millwork consist of a mahogany veneer on a 98 percent recycled core, and all appliances are Energy Star-rated.

Like most modern families, the clients desired a casual dining area in the kitchen. So Duff's team cleverly attached an engineered stone table at a 90 degree angle to the taller island, made of the same material. The effect suggests an angular waterfall, and the table neatly divides the kitchen from the family room. “The idea is, you get the same cascading volumes in the kitchen as elsewhere in the house,” Duff explains.

Project Credits
Builder:
Bay West Enterprises, Redwood City, Calif.
Architect: William Duff Architects, San Francisco
Landscape designer: T. Delaney/Seam Studio, San Francisco
Living space: 350 square feet (kitchen only), 4,295 square feet (whole house)
Construction cost: Withheld
Photographer: Lucas Fladzinksi, www.fladzinski.com 

Resources: Convection steam oven, vent hood: Miele; Countertops: CaesarStone USA; Dishwasher: Bosch Home Appliances; Kitchen fittings and fixtures: Dornbracht Americas, Julien, Kohler Co.; Lighting fixtures: DaSal Industries, LEDS–C4 (GROK); Range, wall ovens, warming drawer: Thermador; Refrigerator, wine chiller: Viking Range Corp.; Paints/stains/wall finishes: Dunn-Edwards Corp., L.M. Scofield Co.; Tile (glass): Ann Sacks Tile & Stone.