Gallery: MODERN SUSTAINABLE HOME: The Beitcher Residence


The gorgeously green Beitcher Residence is a paragon of sustainable California architecture, showcasing a design partnership between eco-conscious client and forward-thinking architect. Designed by W3 Architects out of Venice, California, the Beitcher Residence blends the client’s functional requirements with a variety of sustainable design strategies including passive solar design, state-of-the-art solar electric and solar thermal technologies. Nicknamed “The Integrated Solar House for Los Angeles,” the Beitcher Residence makes full use of the mild climate and the year round sun in the City of Angels.

The Beitcher Residence integrates green technologies including direct gain passive solar heating in the form of Trombe walls made of 8″ CMU block walls and earth berms. Passive cooling and ventilation of the house are achieved through a two story thermal chimney which takes hot air up and out. Floor to ceiling windows, sometimes two stories in expanse, bring in maximum natural light into the residence, minimizing the need to turn on any light fixtures during the day.

W3 Architects also incorporated the latest state-of-the-art solar technologies including an active solar thermal water heating system that heats the domestic hot water, in-floor radiant heating, the pool, and the spa. Energy use is offset through an installation of 5.0 KW solar electric photo voltaic system that helps power the low voltage lighting system integrated throughout the house.

Renewable materials are also incorporated, including some of our favorite materials. Bamboo, often seen as flooring, was put to use as a ceiling material (shown below) throughout the main level of the house. Palm wood was used as flooring through the second story. All the cabinets throughout the house are made of Strawboard capped off by Cesar stone countertops, and post-industrial denim insulation is hidden within the wall cavities throughout the house.

The Beitcher Residence harnesses the power of the sun in a variety of different ways and proves that the right team, sustainable architect and eco-friendly client, can bring about a home that is sustainably extraordinary in a very ordinary way.

+ W3 Architects


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  1. Konstantinos Tolias February 21, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    It’s actually a prety nice house, I would say….

  2. Lee September 2, 2007 at 11:46 pm

    I love the fact that this family is making an effort to promote green building.It’s very easy for these guys writing negative comments,here’s an idea, finish off with something positive! maybe a way you have changed for the better?
    I am in the process of constructing a green house,& find it very difficult to find imformation on greenbuilding.I have the solar panels for heating (heating water too!) Aluminum roof, low E windows, & today I just learned about strawboard cabinetry! ….so come on guys give me some idea’s…I’m all ears! I would love to hear about keeping the house cool.

  3. Aug. 11 Design Review :... August 11, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    […] love houses like this, this, and this. Sounds like the whole pre-fab thing is going to take off like crazy […]

  4. ted August 10, 2007 at 7:01 pm

    i ride my bike past this house on my way to work every day. it’s on a corner lot very visible from the street, in a very expensive part of santa monica. lot alone is probably worth 2mm+. If it were for sale, it would be over $6m.

  5. Uros Vitas August 5, 2007 at 6:34 am

    We have a sustainable design program Wood Processign & Furniture Design at University of Belgrade and we (students) liked this work very much:)

    Here is the link to our catalog:

    And our blog:

  6. Uros Vitas August 5, 2007 at 6:27 am

    Excellent design, especially the way wood is used in interior and exterior, and natural light celling.

  7. graig sterling August 3, 2007 at 10:11 pm

    This seem to be another” LIVING HOME” gig that should around the $250sqft mark,EXPENSIVE for sure but compared to those ghastly conventional chicken shacks witch are being built all over the place at a cost of $350-455$ sqft. for the a equivalent home,than it’s not that bad.The only thing i wonder is how accommodating are they?Are they going to make you jump through hoops in order to have the privilege to spend big money on there products as the LIVING HOMES gang does?
    Also the ECO crowd should be careful here ,with them it’s only BASH,BASH,BASH,!!!
    I echo the sentiment express by wkoriel,bryce and margie nothing will change if you try to have us return to caves ,on diet consisting of bugs and fruits.The people whom read this forum are of a mind witch is ecologically aware and friendly,we all want clean water,clean(organic)food and clean air.Your Moron in the white house just finish waisting a TRILLION DOLLARS for the IRAQIS HOLOCAUST and he ain’t through yet,for that money you could have :
    *ALL non-commercial BUILDINGS outfitted with solar panels,wind-powered generator and hydrogen back-up motor
    *next to every gas stations a government run electric car power station to “gas-up”a totally electric vehicle
    *TOTAL conversion of the national electrical GRIDS to solar,win and hydrogen shutting down all dirty energy sources
    *funding FOR TOTAL CLEAN ENERGY CONVERSATION of ALL enterprises in the nation at no cost to THEM!
    *And finally the 4 major americans waterways [Pac.Coast Ocean/ATL.Coast Ocean/The great lakes and the Mississippi river]could be TOTALLY clean-up within 5YRS after the start.

    all of that without having to fuck ourselves back to the stone age like so many of you are hell bend on doing

  8. wkoriels August 3, 2007 at 6:48 pm

    Folks need to read the article carefully before they react, especially when they are about to react negatively.

    Most of the criticisms are about things that are explained in the article – there is an “…active solar thermal water heating system that heats the domestice hot water, in floor radiant heating, the pool and spa…”

    Also there seems to be a bit of ‘poor-folks facism’ being tossed around above. Why can’t people have what they want and can afford and work to have it in a green manner.

    Are we supposed to regress to the conditions that existed in post WWll USSR because the ice caps are melting.

    Just wondering…

  9. dianejwright August 3, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    I’ve been inside this home and can tell you that it feels marvelously natural, welcoming, yet very contemporary. It’s not huge. It’s big, yes, but not in the least bit ostentatious or wasteful feeling. In fact, I think they’ve been quite modest for the area and have made the volume feel much more airy than it might otherwise be. Definitely not an eco-McMansion.

    Listen, we can all find something to pick at when someone spends money to build a new structure but no one can be 100% perfect in anything we do. I applaud this owner and architect’s vision for this property. They had the funds to build in a much different manner but they chose to trump the norm the best way they could at the time. Money spent on these features trickle down and help us all in the long run. Let’s try to support these incremental changes and urge the next folks to do so to take even bigger steps. We can all do more but some is decidedly better than none, right?

  10. Troy August 3, 2007 at 10:37 am

    Nice house to look at, with all the key buzz words to make you “feel” green and eco-friendly all over. The passive solar walls and natural light are good, but anyone who wants to truely design an efficient and energy economic home that leaves both a low carbon footprint and good neighborhood foot print should get a copy of the book “A Not so Big House” first. No need to live in a 10×10 box, but no need to live in a 3000sqft building on a 40×120 lot instead of a lot proportional house. No eco-McMansions please!
    Also, while several people have asked for numbers on the house, I want to ask where are the “low” and “no-cost” green features. Why no curtains or blinds? No gray water system? Is there an on demand hot water heater to back up the solar unit or an old tank style? Florecent or LED light fixtures anywhere? Solar atic fan on the roof? Any trees or landscaping to shade the building?
    Just some thoughts. This house seems to follow a trend I see of jumping on the green bandwagon, it’s just the horse isn’t fully hitched up!

  11. Margie August 3, 2007 at 10:27 am

    jt: I don’t think there is a single person who reads this blog who doesn’t know that smaller is better when it comes to sustainability. As Bryce points out, it is significantly greener that its neighbors. We would all like to see affordable green homes but the fact is that new technologies are always expensive. We should be grateful to the rich people who buy them because that is the only way those technologies are ever going to be affordable.

    CJ: Be careful about deciding what is necessary and what is not for other people. There are a whole lot of people in this world who need a spa or a pool for health reasons. I have a chronic condition that causes extreme muscle spasms and have required a hot tub for 20 years. It does much more for me than any medication ever has but it is important that I use it just before going to bed. A person across the street from me requires a pool for his exercises – and no, he can not do them at a public facility. BTW, my home is less than 1000 sq. ft.

  12. nick wilder August 3, 2007 at 10:19 am

    What a lovely green lawn. I sure hope it’s not grass.

  13. Daniel Moyer August 3, 2007 at 9:41 am

    any elaboration on that “solar thermal water heating system” would be excellent for a future Inhabitat post

  14. pedro raij August 3, 2007 at 8:26 am

    very nice. I will like to know more about the rooms distribution and the sq.meters of this project.

  15. Bryce August 2, 2007 at 11:48 pm

    Though a pool and spa may not be entirely eco-friendly, at least these ones are part of a property that is likely significantly greener than most of its neighbors. I don’t see living green as necessarily equal to living austerely. There are ways to have an eco-friendly pool. Not heating it is one of the bigger ones. Keeping your spa covered when not in use is another way to retain much of the heat being put into it. In terms of hard numbers, the house would be greener without those items, but the owners have done more than most people do and I applaud those steps toward a green future.

  16. CJ August 2, 2007 at 8:34 pm

    While applauding the time, money and effort that went into this project I have to say that the inclusion of a pool and spa (let alone heating both) is hardly an eco-friendly feature.

  17. scott August 2, 2007 at 7:35 pm

    I mostly like the style. Big windows, wood floors, contemporary furniture, etc. And like the others said, that bamboo ceiling is nice.

  18. JAMES GEDDES August 2, 2007 at 6:44 pm


  19. Fco August 2, 2007 at 5:53 pm

    I like it! I Just wonder, how really green are all those bioclimatic strategies and renewable materials used. Everybody wants to be green, and the forward thinking architects should really go for green buildings, but what about numbers? How much does all that costs? How many people would be buying all those features? How much would a bioclimatic feature be saving in the general energy consumption? And everybody seems to forget the engineers from the consulting teams, that’s why its easier to talk about features rather than numbers (ok, I’m an engineer). And what about an affordable sustainable home? I’m sure that plenty of them would really cause an impact on energy consumption. Anyway I love this project, I just want to see more affordable sustainable homes (and there are some).

  20. stacey August 2, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    Very nice! I would like to know more about the thermal chimney…specifics on how it is working in this house, and is this feature the only way the house is cooled/ventillated? Do they have an additional HVAC system and is there heating?

  21. Michael August 2, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    Bamboo Manufacturers, Suppliers and Retailers:

    PLYBOO-West Coast

    These people are great, bought plenty of bamboo plywood and other green material from them!

  22. Onn August 2, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    wow–i love this! inspirational!

    how can we find the manufacturer or supplier for the bamboo ceiling? i’m a rehabber that’s going green and i’d love to add this feature in a new project!

    please advise!


  23. jt August 2, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    Also would like to know sq. footage … but will say in advance that if it’s +2,000 then it’s certainly not as “green” as it could/should be. IMHO, it’s not just the type of products used, it’s the quantity required for each residence … and huge homes [which this appears to be] just use too much and have [or should be viewed as having] too large a footprint when talking real sustainability.

    Cheers to All

  24. Nathan Judd August 2, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    Beautiful house. I like the utlization on bamboo on the ceiling rather than the floor. With the Palm floor I’m sure it gives a warm, but not too closed in, feel to the house. I’m also a fan of the big windows!

  25. Osi Okonkwo August 2, 2007 at 11:36 am

    Really Nice, How much would this cost? I live in Indianapolis and a house with this many windows would be an issue with heat bills. I know a little about the energy effecient windows, but does any one know the specifics and the initial costs of such windows?

  26. Tareg August 2, 2007 at 10:33 am

    How many bedrooms? Whats the Square Footage. Looks Great. Love the Bamboo on the ceiling.

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