Autism now affects one in 88 children, and as these children grow up they need supportive and safe homes. Sweetwater Spectrum is a new model of high-quality housing that can address the needs of adults with autism disorders and help these individuals develop and gain independence. Located just outside of downtown Sonoma, Sweetwater Spectrum provides housing for 16 adults along with a pool, a community center, an orchard, and organic gardens. Designed by Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects, the project goes above and beyond with a super sustainable design, net zero capability and a strong focus on healthy interiors.
Sweetwater Spectrum is a new housing development designed expressly for autistic adults as a safe home that can offer them a purpose and develop more independence. The 2.8 acre site is just a few blocks from the historic Sonoma Town Square with access to bike trails and public transit. Inside the compound there are four 3,250 sqft four-bedroom homes that include a common area as well as a bedroom and bathroom for each resident. Residents have access to a greater community center, therapy pool & spa, a fitness room, an orchard, and organic gardens.
Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects is aiming for LEED Gold certification for the project, which is also a PG&E Zero Net Energy Pilot Project that will produce all its own energy to operate the buildings. The buildings’ design makes use of natural ventilation, daylighting, high R-value insulation in walls and roofs, high-performance insulated windows, low-reflective “cool” roofs, solar tube skylights at interior halls, solar shading, energy efficient lighting, appliances and mechanical systems, induction cook tops, and a building management system. The onsite organic gardens helps provide food for the community and sustainable landscaping with drought tolerant plants and bioswales minimizes water use and runoff.
The design for Sweetwater Spectrum is based on the Arizona State University StardustCenter and School of Architecture guidelines for housing for adults with autism, which encourage a straightforward spatial organization that defines transitions between public and private places and offers residents the chance to join in or retreat in peace. They also recommend predicability, serene spaces, quiet mechanical systems, healthy interiors and non intrusive technology. Sweetwater Spectrum is one of the first of its kind and aims to be a model for future housing developments around the country.
Images ©Tim Griffith and Kyle Jeffers