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Richardson Family Residence: A High-Performance California Courtyard Home, Palo Alto, CA

Arkin Tilt Architects

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  • Anni Tilt, Dan Johnson

Project Status



2,400 sq. feet


Design Awards

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Project Description

On a north-sloping acre in west Palo Alto, this house is carefully sited and detailed to maximize the experience of the semi-rural site while remaining comfortable year round. Rigorous design, testing and construction detailing resulted in a modest but elegant, high-performance house that is perfectly suited to its site and climate and the specific needs of the outdoor-oriented family it houses, becoming a frame for sustainable living. Internally focused, two shed-roofed bars are joined to create a private courtyard adjacent to a mature stand of live oaks. A perpendicular bar serves as a play space for the owners’ 3 active boys, with a wood “stage” at the south end to mediate the grade change, and the entry resolving the “knuckle” at the north. With multi-functional rooms that integrate circulation, the house lives much larger than its modest 2400sf. Comfortable and casual, balancing low and high technologies, this low-carbon house achieves net-zero energy, bringing the classic California courtyard house into the 21st century.
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