If you were driving by this private home in Kansas, you might just miss it. The Longhouse is covered in a sod roof that renders it barely visible as it blends in with the Kansas prairie. Designed by Kansas-based Rockhill and Associates, the Kansas Longhouse is a solar passive home that showcases low-maintenance materials and a respect for the climate and surrounding environment.
The Longhouse is exactly that – long. At 150 feet long and 24 feet wide, the south-facing home exemplifies solar passive design: a large overhanging roof protects the home from the hot summer sun, but lets sunlight warm the interior spaces in the winter. Shades on the windows limit heat gain and help bounce light into the space. The home backs up to a brome field on the north side, which is twelve feet higher than the foundation of the house. This change in elevation helps protect the home from the blustery north Kansas winds, which can be especially chilly in the winter.
A detached garage is separated by a patio from the main house, which includes three bedrooms and two bathrooms with open kitchen, dining and living area. A large sod green roof covers both buildings and the patio, increasing the thermal performance of the home. The home’s exterior is clad in maintenance-free corrugated metal and native limestone that is screwed into the frame of the building.
The bedrooms, bathrooms and other service rooms are grouped as a core surrounded by hallways on either side, and two of the bedrooms have movable walls to allow the space to be more flexible. The bathrooms are uniquely designed with the tub and toilet enclosed in a room, while the sinks sit outside in the hallway. The north wall of the home is completely lined with 28 built-in floor-to-ceiling cabinets for storage, while the south is open and sunny.
One of the mechanical rooms in the central core serves as a tornado shelter for the residents. Climate control for the home is provided by two whole house fans coupled with cross ventilation across the narrow house with operable, small windows high on the north side and the south windows. Rockhill and Associates designed the home so it was comfortable in its rural setting and yet contemporary in the execution. Overall, it is a very unique and eco-friendly home.
Images © Rockhill and Associates