Project: Eastwatch House
Architects: F9 Productions
Engineering: Front Range Structural Engineering, David Mitchell
Location: Golden, Colorado, United States
Area: 2116 ft²
Photo credits: Jason Buss
When Ed and Leigh set out to build the home, they contacted F9 Productions for an interview and during that interview, they had three goals in mind: A home that was efficient, a home that would endure, a home that would function efficiently. When Ed and Leigh set out to design and build a solar augmented house, it was a choice to build differently, to build smarter. A structure that passively offsets heating costs while maximizing the use of a beautiful mountain view.
Efficiency is a Win-win, better for the homeowner and better for the environment. Passive solar heat gain accounts for 75% of our home heating needs. At 8,200ft of elevation in climate Zone 5, the high temperature hovers around freezing through the winter. Even in these cold winter conditions, the hydronic in-floor heating is used less than 6 hours each night.
The heat engine of the home is a southeasterly window wall paired with masonry thermal masses. The exposed concrete slab floor and an internal brick wall provide 90 tons of thermal mass. During the summer, the sloped high ceilings carry hot air up and out of the house via awning windows. Endurance For Ed’s family, building a custom home was a once in my lifetime opportunity.
With many decades ahead of us, the Eastwatch house needs to accommodate our changing needs as we age. This meant no stairs, ADA compliant doors, and hallways. Additionally, blocking was placed within the walls for handrails if needed. Beyond mobility concerns, the structure itself needs to last well into the future. The house’s location in the Rocky Mountain high county creates additional structural demands. To resist the strain of 100mph winds and yards of snow, a steel post and beam system support the roof.
To mitigate the ever-present wildfire danger, the exterior material palette is steel, masonry, and glass. With Class A fire rated TPO roofing and IPE decking. Functionality Ed and his Leigh have always believed that form must follow function. In a well thought out system, there must be a reason for everything. Things without reason should be removed. This belief sets the tone for the home. The floor-to-ceiling windows and brick wall passively heat the home.
The island kitchen separates cooking from baking and guests from hosts. Long roof overhangs protect the house from snow and block the high summer sun. Elegance is the intersection of function, beauty, and simplicity. The structure’s simple geometric shapes respect the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape. As does the muted palette of the interior. The building should frame the expansive view, not complete with it.