The small, elegant & sustainable urban farmstead maximizes the potential of a typical urban lot. Every square foot responds to the existing features of the site to feed and house its owners while minimizing water and energy consumption. Directed by the imaginative yet clear aspirations of the client who demanded both sustainability and aesthetic harmony, Architect Jan Fillinger and Landscape Architect Justine Lovinger drafted the interior and exterior spaces simultaneously, working to weave the living environment together seamlessly. This home is elaborated further by the craftsmanship and green building experience of Builder Ecobuilding Collaborative of Oregon, which completes the core design team. From bare lot to finish details, this project is a testimony to the cohesion & benefits of dynamic design collaboration.
A Passive House (PH) is “passive” because it sustains a comfortable climate year round without an active heating or cooling system. PH incorporates passive solar design with super insulation and virtually airtight construction to capture internal heat gains and minimize heat loss. High performance windows and doors and thermal bridge-free construction assure optimal comfort without cold surfaces or drafts. Superior indoor air quality is maintained through a high efficiency heat recovery ventilation system. Cooling is provided through careful shading, night flush ventilation, and thermal mass. Tailored to this climate, site, and layout through intensive energy modeling with the specialized PH software, this home will provide a modern healthy standard of living with ultra-low energy use.
The context of the site is a mature, traditional neighborhood threaded throughout with alleys on the half blocks. Confining the car space to a thin edge along the alley to the west defines the location of the garage, its upstairs studio apartment (Secondary Dwelling Unit –SDU), guest and SDU parking. Angling the garage on the site turns a sun-capturing wall inward to the urban farm and provides a backdrop for a greenhouse and vertical gardening. The resulting irregular spaces allow the placement of numerous opportunistic garden nooks, planters, and lush greenery. Instead of a driveway on the main street, a large planting area, graceful fence and beautiful gateway turn an elegant garden face to the neighborhood and preserve arable land for food production.
The northeast corner of the lot is dominated by a massive heritage Black Walnut tree. Black Walnuts provide welcome shade and food, but they produce the chemical Juglone that inhibits the growth of competing species within its root zone. Here, juglone-tolerant plants capable of filtering impurities from site stormwater runoff are arranged in a beautiful entry rain garden visible from the client’s office window. Dwarf Orchard fruit trees in the southeast entry garden are arranged in order of juglone tolerance, and set within a decomposed granite terrace to capture and reflect heat and light for early ripening.
The center of the lot receives the most consistent solar exposure, arguing for the house and garden to compete for this valuable land. The solution of a long thin house sited on the northern buildable limit line not only capitalizes on maximum solar exposure for Passive House applications, but creates various microclimates for food production and outdoor living. The sheltered space between the ADU and the house forms the primary outdoor dining and living terrace in close proximity to the working garden. Raised beds are thoughtfully located to accommodate cool season crops like broccoli and cabbage, heat loving tomatoes and peppers, and even hardy citrus and figs. Trellised grapes over the primary southern windows contribute shade for passive cooling in the summer, and expose the windows to passive heat gain in the winter.
Honeybees and chickens complete the farmstead, providing not only honey and eggs, but vital pollination and manure to sustain the intensive agriculture on the site. Even here, careful consideration was given to siting the bees for morning sun, yet isolated from the neighbors, and chickens in the shade of the southern fence near the compost bins on the alley.More