Eco-conscious, sustainable, rammed earth walls, and a stunningly beautiful home. Jonathan Feldman of Feldman Architecture, Inc created this certified LEED Platinum Custom Home dubbed the Caterpillar House. It is located in the Santa Lucia Preserve of Carmel Valley in the rolling hills along the California Central Coast. Among such rich and gorgeous scenery, this homeowner was interested in building a contemporary ranch style home that maintained a strong connection between the indoor and outdoors spaces. She also wanted a dream home that was environmentally conscious and sustainable, while simultaneously melding with the natural landscape. The homeowner had previously lived in an original Cliff May home and she hoped to capture the essence of that home’s spirit while utilizing sustainable design techniques.
The design of the Caterpillar House has achieved all of the homeowner’s goals. It has a beautifully open floor plan with the main living areas centering on the modern kitchen design. The primary living area also opens onto a large covered porch and outdoor patio via the contemporary floor to ceiling glass windows and doors. This provides for a beautiful view of the surrounding hillside and an incredibly flexible entertaining area perfect for more intimate gathering or large parties. With operable outdoor sunshades that expand and contract depending on the weather conditions, this is a great example of indoor/outdoor living. The two actually seem to become one.
Throughout the interior and exterior of home there is a real sense of continuity that is maintained via the material choices, For instance the wood ceiling and flooring materials maintain a continuous flow through out every room. The furnishing are mid-century modern and the lighting fixtures in the primary living space are a perfect accent. This home is under 3000 sqft and clearly not designed for a large family. The one thing that is quite clear is that there are beautiful views from seemingly every room in the home. The overall design works very well with the landscape and California climate.
The home’s sustainable design features are many, but may not always be apparent to the casual onlooker. The structure is made from low and horizontal rammed earth walls which act as a thermal mass helping to regulate internal home temperatures through out the day and the changing seasons. The home is built with passive heating and cooling system that includes such features as, Southern facing glazed glass doors and windows, operable shading, and natural ventilation. The home is actually completely energy independent with its integrated photovoltaic panels that do not interfere with the home’s external aesthetics. One sustainability feature is quite obvious, the rainwater catchment system. It includes three large tanks that set beside the home and provide for the irrigation needs of the entire property, but water issues are always a concern in this area of the country.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Joe Fletcher Photography