New  Eco-Friendly Plans

Big news at this week is the debut of plans by award-winning solar environmental architect David Wright, AIA; they’re part of our Signature Collection. Check out his Minimalist Studio, Plan 452-2:


The modern 825 square-foot vacation cabin is supported on concrete columns, which make it adaptable to any site with minimum disturbance. The design is economical to build and efficient to heat and cool thanks to walls made of structural insulated panels (SIPs). It’s also easy to personalize because the panels can be clad in a variety of  finishes from corrugated metal to stucco.


The great room opens to a generous deck; windows on three sides balance the light and maximize the feeling of spaciousness. The only enclosed spaces are the bathroom and the laundry. Install a double bed at the living end of the great room and cover it with pillows so it can double as a couch and your retreat is ready to go. The rectangular design makes it easy to enlarge, or combine several units to create a compound.

Plan 452-1, below, David Wright’s contemporary farmhouse, is especially appealing because of its simple barn-like roof and generous rear living porch under a big overhang (porches may well be a subtheme of this blog!)


Note the roof-wide skylight brightening the large porch. The 1,920 square foot house also uses  SIPs construction for energy efficiency. David says: “The shape recalls the form of the tropical plantation house or traditional Japanese house.” To see what he means, here’s an image of Cherokee Plantation in Natchitoches, Louisiana:


(Photo from the plantation website.) And a Japanese folk house from the Japan Open-Air Folk House Museum Nihon Minka-en at Kawasaki, Japan:


(Photo from the museum website.) See how David integrated the simple roof shape and porch ideas. I would add the Hawaiian lanai to the DNA of this design.

Inside David’s farmhouse the plan is modern and open:


I like the way major rooms occupy the corners for maximum daylight. It’s a flexible organization that allows for easy indoor-outdoor living.

David has designed over 500 passive solar and alternative construction buildings. His work combines a deep understanding of regional traditions with expertise in solar technology and has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, Los Angeles Times Home, and Sunset magazine. He received the “Passive Solar Pioneer for 2007” Award from the American Solar Energy Society.

His most recent book is The Passive Solar Primer: Sustainable Architecture.


David also designed an innovative solar cabin that was built at Sunset‘s headquarters to wide acclaim. We’ll showcase more of his plans in the future.

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