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  5. Spiegel Aihara Workshop
  6. Low/Rise House / Spiegel Aihara Workshop

Low/Rise House / Spiegel Aihara Workshop

  • 01:00 - 4 April, 2014
Low/Rise House / Spiegel Aihara Workshop
Low/Rise House / Spiegel Aihara Workshop, © Bruce Damonte
© Bruce Damonte

© Bruce Damonte © Bruce Damonte © Bruce Damonte © Bruce Damonte +25

  • Consulting Architect

    Peter Rose + Partners, OKB Architecture
  • Mechanical Engineer

    Monterey Energy Group
  • Structural Engineer

    Larry Cofer
  • Civil Engineer

    WEC and Associates, Inc.
  • Geotechnical Engineer

    Murray Engineers
  • General Contractor

    Hunner Associates
  • Landscape Contractor

    Terra Ferma Landscapes
  • Landscape Design

    SAW // Spiegel Aihara Workshop, Megumi Aihara
  • A/V

    Active Integration
  • More SpecsLess Specs
© Bruce Damonte
© Bruce Damonte


© Bruce Damonte
© Bruce Damonte

Located on a half acre lot in the heart of Silicon Valley, the house reimagines the suburban housing type through interlocking bars of shared and private program. The composition re-appropriates the traditional forms of the California ranch house and farm tower as tools of environmental performance and social interaction, deployed to create variable density, natural ventilation, solar energy generation, day-lighting, and immersion into the site.

Floor Plan
Floor Plan

The clients, two professors with grown children, sought a house that could accommodate varying use patterns, creating an intimate environment for their own use as a couple, yet allowing for a spacious and integrated configuration for ten or more family members, and several hundred party guests. This complex programmatic request inspires the specific massing and siting of the building.

© Bruce Damonte
© Bruce Damonte

The first floor consists of two long and narrow structures that intersect in an open kitchen, providing distinct programmatic areas and settling into the tree-lined landscape, allowing yards to surround and permeate each room. Subtle rotations of the geometry assist in way-finding, as well as identification of the more public and more private functions. The private master suite opens into a fern garden in the eastern corner of the site, while large sliding glass doors suspend the living room within the landscape for family gatherings or larger events.

© Bruce Damonte
© Bruce Damonte

A compact and vertical guest tower is sited at the western corner of the lot amongst tall evergreens, allowing for a more private guest experience, more compact floor plan, and the ability to effectively shut off (socially and energy-wise) the guest spaces zone by zone during typical daily use. Atop the 30-foot tower, a roof deck emerges through the trees, providing a unique vantage point of the structure below and the surrounding townscape.

© Bruce Damonte
© Bruce Damonte

This spatial efficiency also provides increased energy efficiency. The high density of the guest spaces allows for stacked building systems that reduce resource consumption, while a hidden solar array over the horizontal spaces produces over 90% of the electrical demand of the house. Combined with the insulated glazing, radiant floor heat, passive cooling, and resilient natural materials, the house prioritizes sustainability in terms of both resources and living patterns.


Through an integral relationship between use, form, and material, the Low/Rise House responds sensitively to site, nature, and neighborhood, creating a new type of suburban living – both urban and rural.

Cite: "Low/Rise House / Spiegel Aihara Workshop" 04 Apr 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed . <>
Read comments


David · August 18, 2014

Tim, You raise a good question about summer temperatures, but we live here and it is mid-August and we are cool and comfortable. Why? 1) The large windows are all argon-filled double thickness and very insulating. You feel the heat of the sun with them open, but not behind them. 2) Most of the windows slide open, so you can quickly get breezes throughout the house. 3) The skylight panel over the central kitchen opens, letting heat out quickly. 4) The siting of the house admits direct sunlight in the morning when you want it, and not mid-day and late afternoon. We have no air conditioning and don't need it. The house is a pleasure to live in - year round.

NGUY?N L?C · May 07, 2014

Comfortable and cozy.Good...

jimmmy · April 15, 2014

talk about token 5 degree plan adjustment. just make it perpendicular. duh.

Tim Snodgrass · April 11, 2014

That's an awful lot of glass to draw in sunlight and heat up the inside of the house in the summer.

Menlo Park, California can average summer daytime exterior temps in the 80's or even higher.

I doubt very much that the interior (of both lower and upper floors) is going to be able effectively shed all that heat if the residents are at home during those hours.

It is, otherwise, an eye-catching design and a prettily-executed house. Congratulations to Dan, in what I'm sure would have been a joyous labor of love to build this for his parents.

Jaron · April 05, 2014

YEeeeaaahhhhhhhh bboooooooyyyyyyy


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