The site for the Paletz Moi House is a three-acre, heavily wooded site north of Durham, North Carolina and the campus of Duke University. From its high point, the site slopes steeply to the north and east and gradually to the west and south. Prevailing breezes come from the southwest and provide cooling breezes throughout the year. Views are excellent in all directions, suggesting that primary consideration should be about the light, solar orientation, and cooling breezes.
The basic program called for a living room, dining room, kitchen, and three bedrooms. Because the house is very simply a live/work space, additional requirements included two offices each with specific spatial needs, a small screening room for 15 to 20 people, and multiple outdoor spaces with different light conditions throughout the day. The clients requested a house that would maximize natural light and breezes and give the feeling of living in the surrounding trees.
The house employs concrete block foundations and retaining walls to provide a platform that raises the steel and glass structure off the ground. By careful placement and design, these walls minimize the physical impact on the site. The main body of the house is a linear construction oriented on an east-west axis. This linear organization allows almost all of the spaces of the house to have three exposures.
The linear nature of the design maximizes the north/south exposures. Although the glass area on the south elevation is significant, deep mullions and a tight mullion pat¬tern provide sun shading. Low e glass is used throughout. A linear slot of operable windows, at a height of four feet along the southern and northern elevations, provides natural cool¬ing from breezes. Additional insulation in the walls and roof provide excellent insulation. Per-square-foot cost for heating and cooling is 40 percent less than the owners’ previous house.