November 12th, 2009


Peter Rich of Peter Rich Architects in South Africa has dedicated his career to the service of the less privileged.  His projects include low-income housing, community centers and children’s facilities.  The Mapungubwe Interpretation Center in Limpopo, South Africa, a project recently completed, looks to the local culture and ecology for its design inspiration.  Situated in [...]

November 5th, 2009

Passive House 101

photo: Binder Holz

The San Francisco Bay Area is rich with examples of Green Architecture, and is arguably on the forefront of the green building movement. Many people here have heard of the Passive House Standard, but not many really know what it is or how it works.
In essence the term “passive house” represents the idea [...]

October 19th, 2009

Pushing the Envelope in Green Architecture innovation: Team California takes home the Best in Architecture at the 2009 Solar Decathlon

For a few weeks in the fall the Solar Decathlon will transform the Mall in Washington D.C., stretching out before the Capitol Building into a laboratory for Green Architecture. The competition, sponsored by the US Department of Energy, brings students from around the world together to test the houses that they have designed, built, shipped [...]

September 18th, 2009

Commissioning for Architects

As architects, we weave the complexities of program, design, regulations, technology, budget and fee, while managing clients, projects, and liability. Proposed changes to our workflow frequently interrupt our momentum. Changes to our design process that seem burdensome ultimately transform our work and improve our buildings.  The process of commissioning is new to many of us, [...]

September 15th, 2009

Dressing up the lighting for traditional homes and gardens

The techniques of lighting have greatly evolved beyond simple table lamps and chandeliers, yet many homeowners have not updated their thinking much beyond this approach.  So much of what we see in current design magazines and books are the ultra modern, ultra clean interiors.  It’s true that progressive design is a hot topic, but it’s [...]

August 6th, 2009

The Shape Of Green Buildings

I have to say it’s an exciting time to be practicing architecture. Yes the economy has put all sorts of new pressures on us and challenges in our path. But the mainstreaming of environmental considerations is delivering architects much more enlightened clients and an abundance of new products, materials and strategies that will allow us [...]

July 29th, 2009

The Dream of the All-Electric House, Revisited

Not General Electric’s home of the future, this demonstration project, scheduled for construction in 2010, envisions a home that is completely energy neutral.  An eight kilowatt solar array, grid connected and net metered, will produce all power necessary for domestic and transportation purposes, without any on site carbon emissions.  The owner, who has been working [...]

July 17th, 2009

serious paper play

 Paper bags and cardboard boxes, butchers’ paper and newsprint hats.  Paper plates, papier mache and the versatile matchbox, boxes for packing and moving and play Visionaries like Gehry and Shigeru Ban use it for structure but, whether the blame rests with neat stacking Lego and Lincoln Logs or span-worthy Meccano, most of us don’t consider [...]

July 13th, 2009


 When excavation is required, take care to preserve existing top soils, to set them aside in the order in which they were removed. Value and protect site soils during the construction process and return them to the land as close to their original place as possible when construction allows. Cover site soils with organic mulch [...]

June 25th, 2009

Ventilated and Insulated Rain Screen Cladding (V.I.R.S.C.)

Information Based on Euro Panels Overseas Literature.
The basic section of an external wall construction composed in accordance to the VIRSC principle consists
1: a load bearing structure
2: a layer of thermal insulation on the outside of the load bearing structure
3: a ventilated air gap / cavity
4: intermediate supporting structure to connect the load bearing structure [...]