Architect Michael Holly recently completed the Pond House at Ten Oaks Farm, an exquisite zero-energy retreat that combines energy-efficient architecture with intelligent landscape design. Located in southeast Louisiana, the contemporary 1,250-square-foot Pond House retreat is more than just an eco-friendly dream home—the building is an active learning tool equipped with building performance monitors so that Holly can derive building practices from the “energy model experiment” for use in his future architecture projects. Moreover, the Pond House has thus far generated more energy than it consumes thanks to passive design principles and solar and geothermal energy sources.
The Pond House has been a long project in the making. When Holly, who is also a principal of Holly & Smith Architects, and his wife Denise purchased the 15.5-acre plot of land, the couple saw the property as a blank canvas. Formerly a dairy farm, the site was almost unremarkable in appearance save for three “magnificent live oaks” bordering the north edge. Holly spent the next twenty years sculpting the landscape, and installed an artesian well and surrounded a peninsula of ten oaks with a man-made pond—thus giving the project it’s name of Pond House at Ten Oaks Farm—that was used for recreation and stormwater runoff. A dense layer of trees was planted around the property’s perimeter and carefully arranged to draw cooling winds onto the site in the summer while protecting the home from harsh winter winds.
The Pond House was built with a north-south orientation along the edge of the pond in order to optimize solar capture and allow the slanted roof to shed rainwater directly into the pond. The facade is clad in light green limestone-textured stucco, opaque tongue-and-groove polycarbonate panels, and two glazed volumes that cantilever out from the second floor to open the home up to landscape views and natural light. Timber louvers wrap around the building to protect the interior from excessive sunlight.
Holly monitors the Pond House’s energy performance with a monitoring system accessible through a smartphone, which also allows him to control the home’s energy use offsite. The house is split into three heating and cooling zones and the temperature is controlled via a high-tech and efficient variable refrigerant volume system. Spray-foam insulation, energy star equipment, LEDs, and other energy-efficient fixtures minimize the Pond House’s energy use.
The interior features an open-plan kitchen, living room, and dining area partially enclosed with floor-to-ceiling glazing to blur the line between indoor and outdoor space. Outdoor entertaining is made available with an outdoor terrace, kitchen, seating, and fireplace that lead directly to the pond. “The Pond House at Ten Oaks Farm is an excellent example of what architecture today should be – contemporary, sustainable, efficient, and catering to the evolving active and passive lifestyles that are prominent within a particular culture,” writes the architect.
Images © Marc Lamkin