Gallery: Green Roofed Cooper Point House Blends Into Big Sur


Fading right into the Big Sur landscape, this three-bedroom house is nearly invisible when viewed from certain angles. And that’s just how Mickey Muennig, the mastermind behind the project, wanted it. The 74-year old architect kept the environment in mind when he designed the sod roof and seeded it with native grasses and wildflowers. The roof is part of a garden that starts at Cooper Point, Big Sur, and stretches out to the Pacific Ocean.

The difficulty of building along this beautiful California coastline–home to one of the strictest land-use policies in the US–didn’t deter Muennig; instead, it seemed to inspire him to adhere to and accommodate the natural beauty of the landscape. Before ground was broken, archeological and geological experts surveyed the land and a botanist checked for endangered plants. After the house was built, landscape designers planted a blend of native coastal grasses, and outer parts of the building were seeded with a ground cover of manzanita, along with wind and drought-resistant plants.

The house does not rely on the PG&E grid for energy, drawing power from solar panels instead. A 6 to 8 inch sod roof provides insulation, reducing energy costs. In fact, the owners say they’ve cut their energy consumption by half. And because the house was built in the shape of an aerodynamic hump, it’s protected from strong gusts of winds that blow up to 100 miles per hour.

+ Mickey Muennig

Via WSJ magazine


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  1. pimkolam November 13, 2011 at 12:54 am

    The trees planted by the owners of the cool Muennig house at Andrew Molera will soon block the incredible 50 mile view of the south coast. Hikers will have to be satisfied with a north view.

  2. hZ December 31, 2009 at 2:36 pm


  3. TAB May 17, 2009 at 1:09 am

    A couple winters ago, I took a hike with a friend from Andrew Molera Park in Big Sur and was stranded on the wrong side of a river. Unprepared, we hiked around 15 miles, and when it was pitch dark we were seriously considering risking drinking river water when we saw a warm light glowing about a mile away…it was the house at cooper point! I\’m sure the couple living there was terrified, as knocking on the door requires trespassing, but they gave us water and a ride to the road. Can\’t believe it\’s in Inhabitat now. The house is immaculate from the inside, lots of tactile stimulation with nice surfaces and beautiful lighting. Nice work!

  4. Hayden May 14, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    I have seen sod roofing and I have seen environmentally green homes, however this one takes the cake. The fact that the owners cut their energy consumption in half is simply mind blowing to me. I noticed the large windows for natural sunlight, and that the owners are using solar energy to reduce emissions. What impresses me the most is how modern the house looks, as it blends into the grass hill. Once again thinking environmentally the roof provides insulation, which is what all homes should be doing! The designers of the home approached this project looking at every angle to make the home environmentally friendly and I don’t understand why many others do not follow in the footsteps. Currently I am in high school, and I am working on instigating my family into thinking green (examples so far are turning off lights, opening windows, reducing water running time, decrease transportation use if the distance is walkable). One big question that I have as a student in Environmental Science is how to make larger steps as a family, or in this case an environmentally green home without a large cost. I live in a very urban area, and hope to set an example in green living for friends and relatives.

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