CCS Architecture designed this 5,800 square foot home for a family of five in Palo Alto, California. The clients both work in the Silicon Valley, and they have 3 young children. The design is specific to their close-knit family needs as well as their rigorous sustainability standards. The architecture is contemporary, but it has warm, authentic materials and refined details to accommodate a casual, unpretentious lifestyle.
The home’s bent, linear configuration divides the site; the public, street sides wrap the corner, creating a more private interior. A breezeway leads to the entry and the yard beyond, while also separating the main house from the garage and studio. The second floor bridges over these two and becomes the ceiling of the breezeway.
The lower part of the house has primary walls of highly crafted rammed earth made with soil excavated from the site. The upper floor, framed in wood and steel, is clad in wood siding plus aluminum panels. Between the two is an 18-inch ribbon of glass that admits soft light and views while making the upper floor appear as if it is floating.
Deconstruction of Previous House
The existing house was an unremarkable mix of styles and spaces—a 1930s structure that was haphazardly added onto over the years. The site also included a pool, which was deconstructed as well.
Typically a house would be demolished and the waste shipped to a landfill. In this case, the house was deconstructed piece by piece over the course of a five-week period. Most of the materials that were not objects, such as plumbing and electrical fixtures, were broken down and shipped to nearby recycling centers. The balance of the materials were either broken down and reused in some other form, i.e. gypsum and plaster were reused as road base or filler in other construction. The ReUse People took other materials, i.e., clay roof tiles, windows and light switches, for resale.
While deconstructing the existing pool, we found the subsurface soil to be a good match as base material for the rammed earth walls of the new house. About 50% of the material in the new rammed earth walls is comprised of soil from the site.