Gallery: Montara House Maximizes Sunlight on Foggy California Coast


The foggy Northern California coastline can sometimes put a damper on your spirit, but given the a chance to inhabit a house like the Montara House, you’d be sure to find a pick-me-up no matter what the weather conditions. Located on the coast just south of San Francisco on a steep sloped site, the concrete home maximizes natural daylight inside the home and provides a comfortable and warm environment to escape the fog. And though designed by San Francisco-based Anderson Anderson Architecture, the resident family were actually the builders of this eco-home, which includes an impressive pv and solar water heating system.

To minimize costs and carbon footprint, the home was built from just two materials – concrete and sustainably harvested Peruvian Redwood. While concrete has its pluses and minuses as a sustainable material, by using this as the main construction material cast on site, the owner was able to simplify construction considerably. Foot-thick concrete walls were cast monolithically with rigid foam insulation placed between two reinforced layers, while the redwood was imported and milled onsite to create the paneling, ceilings, windows and doors.

Windows and skylights were strategically placed to draw in the temperate sun through the fog, and glass walls were installed around outdoor living areas to create a more comfortable environment and provide a buffer zone for the house. A photovoltaic system and solar hot water system sits concealed on the roof to provide both electricity and hot water to the home.

+ Anderson Anderson Architecture


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  1. kevin of September 21, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    I’m so glad that you were able to build your wonderful home on the Central Coast. There is wonderful green architecture in Big Sur, Bodega Bay, Timber Cove, but not a lot around coastal San Mateo County. We had lived in the SF Bay Area for most of our adult lives, where I designed exhibits for many of the natural history museums. About 13 years ago, we moved to Ireland, where we built Mermaid Isle, a magical green coastal retreat. Its passive-solar, getting most of its illumination and warmth from massive windows on the southern side, which is also where our glass-like private bay is. So, the two homes get a double dose of light from the sky and from the light reflected from the mirror-like water’s surface. The walls are clad in triple-layers of local natural slate. All the windows and doors are from either centuries-old churches, manor houses, or convents. So, there is little carbon-footprint either. Its medieval barn-like post & beam structure is perfectly attuned with its agricultural surroundings. You might want to check it out:

    When Mermaid Isle sells we hope to return to the Montara/Moss Beach Coastal area.

    Kevin and Lori

  2. Kevin OF September 21, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    We love your Montara house. We had come from the SF Bay Area, where I designed natural history museums. For the past 13 years we\\\’ve been living on the coast of Ireland, where we built another Green oceanfront home, which uses reflected sunlight from the sea for illumination and warmth. Again, we use massive windows on the south side, but each is reclaimed from either a centuries-old church, convent or manor house. Our walls are covered with triple-layers of natural slate. You might want to check it out at:

    After Mermaid Isle sells, we hope to relocate back to the Montara/Moss Beach area.

    Kevin and Lori

  3. Striking Spanish High S... September 14, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    […] were used to build the high school in order to retain the same feel of the original landscape. The concrete is stained from green to red to connect the building to both its rural setting and the urban […]

  4. davidv September 12, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    Beautiful home and welcome to the community! We recently completed our own eco-home in the neighboring town of Moss Beach and are happy to see others building thoughtful, architecturally interesting and forward-thinking homes on the Midcoast.

    Well done – would love to see it in person some time.

    — DavidV

  5. DavidV September 12, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    Nice! Welcome to the community. We built our eco-home in the neighboring town of Moss Beach and welcome forward-thinking and beautifully designed homes like this to the Midcoast.

    Would love to check it out in person some time.

    Well done!

    — DavidV

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