Growing up in a Marcel Breuer House would make one no stranger to modernist aesthetic and space. Thus, architect Maryann Thompson was privileged to come across such clients when she was commissioned to design a house for a family of four that would open up to the outdoors rather than shutting it out. Thompson’s Geothermal House, as it came to be called, unfolds in “layers of interlocking spaces.” As one travels from the northern public side of the house to the southern, more private end, one follows the sun’s path, naturally stepping down the sloping site. Continually referencing the outside through the interior of the house, the horizontal planes jut out into the landscape.

But this house goes beyond simply embracing nature visually; you guessed it – a geothermal heating and cooling system is employed.


The geothermal system supplies heat and cooling for the entire house, working much like a traditional heat pump, except that the energy is taken from the ground. The geothermal system saves approximately 60% of energy costs. Even better, passive design strategies mean that the owners often don’t even have to turn the geothermal system on! Making the north facing walls insular helps to capture warmth and keeps out the cold, while the south facing walls open up to let in sun and warmth. Deep overhangs also control heat loss and gain, and all rooms have cross ventilation – while letting in light on two sides. Talk about bringing the outside in!