The bathroom is at the heart of WaterShed.
Built on the premise that a sustainable home should both conserve and produce resources, WaterShed is a house designed as a micro-scale ecosystem, emulating the environment of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. With systems that interact with each other and the environment, WaterShed harvests, recycles, and reuses water, conserving and producing resources with the water it captures. The bathroom is the nexus of these activities, and is celebrated as the intersection of the inside and the outside -- the built and natural environments.
House + Site
WaterShed’s forms highlight water’s path – falling from clouds to highlands, trickling down waterways and streams, filtered by vegetation, and seeping into the ground. Two rectangular volumes capped by sloping shed roofs are designed to maximize solar energy generation and collect rainwater. At the center of these two volumes, bridging the constructed wetlands, sits the bathroom.
The wetlands filter and store the rainwater and grey water produced by WaterShed. Grey water from the bathroom shower and lavatory along with the clothes washer and dishwasher is collected and filtered through constructed wetlands on the west end of the water axis. This stored and filtered water can be reused to irrigate and nourish the landscape without consuming precious potable water.
WaterShed is deserving of recognition for the way the bathroom is integrated into the flow of daily life. Moving between the north and south volumes of the house while viewing the wetlands at the crossing ensures that the residents are constantly aware of the relationship between their home, their activities, and the landscape that contains them. A pair of asymmetrical barn door panels provide seclusion for the bathroom when closed, and form an integral part of casework in adjacent spaces when open. Floor to ceiling windows on either side of the bathroom maintain a visual and experiential connection with the landscape. Recessed solar shades provide privacy and screening against east and west solar gain.
The sense of being in the out-of-doors while conducting the rituals of preparing for the day and retiring for sleep is enhanced by the simple natural materials. Porcelain tiles are set as garden plank pavers, and form a shower pan underneath a eucalyptus shower floor grate. Stranded bamboo panels form the alcove walls and ceiling. Storage is hidden in the back of the alcove, behind a mirror. A concrete lavatory top is the base for a frosted glass sink that is lit with integral LED lights.