Architects: Coates Design Architects
Project: Tumble Creek Net-Zero Cabin
Location: Suncadia, Cle Elum, Washington, United States
Area: 41,450 sq ft (site), 3,835 sq ft (building)
Photography: Lara Swimmer
This Net-Zero Cabin designed to be vacation home lies in a historic mining area in Washington State’s Cascade Mountains. The climate is extremely cold and snowy in the winter months and scorching in the summer. Situated in a master-planned resort community, the house blends sustainable modern architecture with reclaimed rustic materials. Repeat clients Ed and Joanne Ellis first hired Coates Design Architects for their home and primary residence on Bainbridge Island—the first LEED Platinum residence in Washington. They worked again with Coates Design who brought the same modern and sustainable design sensibilities to this vacation home intended to be a legacy piece for their extended family.
The extreme weather conditions challenged the design team to create a comfortable environment without the use of traditional energy consumptive cooling and heating systems. The team sited the building to take advantage of passive solar strategies and created an abundance of sloped roof to support a 10 kWh PV Solar Panel array. This system is designed to provide all of the electricity required by the home and is engineered to include a Tesla Powerwall. The Powerwall will store extra electricity and will maintain functionality during power outages as well as a vehicle charging station for the owners’ electric cars.
An entry vestibule and mud room conserves energy and creates an elegant entry into the main living space. This self-contained room serves double duty as a special place to welcome visitors and an air lock to keep the outdoor elements contained. Wintertime’s chilly drafts and summer’s excessive heat are kept at bay with this simple solution. Dramatic cantilevered roof planes utilize passive solar strategies by barring the summer sun & heat yet inviting in the winter sunshine. These broad overhangs also create covered outdoor space, much coveted in this climate, and a sheltered entry experience.
Vaulted ceilings in the main living and dining area are supported by exposed steel and wood structural elements, and floor-to-ceiling windows look out on the landscape beyond. A large board formed concrete chimney commands attention as the focal point of the main living area. This solid mass, along with areas of concrete floor, serve also as a thermal heat sink to help maintain a stable and comfortable temperature inside. There are two primary bedroom suites and a bunk room in the main house to accommodate family members. A separate bunk house has space for recreation and an additional bedroom suite. The two-car garage features an electric vehicle charging station, a wine cellar, and plenty of storage.
Net-Zero Cabin / Sustainable Features
-High-performance rain screen building envelope with continuous exterior insulation
-Over insulated roof beyond required Washington State Energy code minimums
-Radiant floor heating and Energy Recovery Ventilation System
-10 kWh PV Solar Panel array, engineered for Tesla Powerwall battery backup system
-Use of rustic materials, including stone, Cor-ten steel, and reclaimed barn wood with modern detailing
-Exposed steel and wood structure throughout the main spaces
-Heating and ventilation system can be monitored and adjusted remotely
-Massive board-formed concrete fireplace
-Energy efficient aluminum-clad wood windows and doors
-Electric car charging station