Miner Road House by Faulkner Architects

Miner Road House is a project by Faulkner Architects that was done for environmental scientists in 2017, in an area that covers 3724 square feet in Orinda, US. The reason why the project is really interesting is that it was done for people that are committed to sustainability. This is why the house actually has net-zero energy performance every single year.


Everything started with a remodel of a ranch that was built in the year 1954. The result was more than expected.

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The problem was that the structure that existed was not sustainable and the soil fell in the exact same category. As a result, the existing footprint under a Valley Oak was used, which was close to the ranch.

A surviving part of the house exists but this is just the fireplace, which was then wrapped in concrete to be used in offering structural support. Due to this, the new home did have an intimate relation to the oak and extra grading was not needed.

The owners wanted an open living layout capable of connected to the surrounding landscape. As a result, the family space that was created was beautifully mastered.

When choosing construction methods and materials, the architects did a great work at respecting nature and the wishes of the clients. Zero annual maintenance cost appears for most of the home, leaving a foundation that has formwork that was repurposed for framing made out of wood.

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Material selections were single use because shotcrete foundation and Corten steel reduced detailing complexity. Labor costs were also brought down. A lot of the budget was reallocated for insulation, glazing systems and upgraded mechanics.

Inside the Miner Road House, the environment is quiet and relaxed. Simply staying inside the living room and watching the exterior is enough to feel a connection with the landscape.

Insulation is as good as it should be and the glazing efficiency considerably reduces cooling and heating loads. There is even a photovoltaic system that offers renewable on-site energy. It produces much more electrical energy than the house actually uses every single year.

Last but not least, a waterfall is used to collect rainwater. There are buried tanks that store water that is used in the laundry room and in toilets. The collection of greywater is separate, with the purpose of reusing it for irrigation. Energy use is further limited through variable speed heat pumps and electronically commutated motors. This also controls cooling and heating.

Photographs: Joe Fletcher