San Francisco-based architecture firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson recently completed the Los Altos Residence, a modernist family home for a couple who strives to be environmentally conscious. Located in Los Altos in northern Silicon Valley, the home and adjacent guesthouse boasts an energy-efficient design that follows passive cooling principles and is equipped with renewable energy systems. The low-slung residence mimics the Northern California ranch-style home with a distinctly modernist slant marked with clean lines and a restrained material palette.

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double height living area

concrete fireplace

The Los Altos Residence comprises two buildings: a main residence of 4,151 square feet and an additional 479-square-foot guesthouse. The existing landscape played a large part in the design of the site-specific home, which is organized around a mature Japanese maple tree. The windows and doors were strategically placed to frame views of the diverse landscaping surrounding the home and to take advantage of cooling cross breezes.

operable glazing outside living space

deep south facing overhang

“The home is detailed with a natural, crisp palette, reflecting the client’s fondness for simplicity and tranquility,” explains Bohlin Cywinski Jackson in its project statement. “A variety of woods, including Douglas fir, western red cedar, and gray elm, are used throughout and provide a sense of warmth directly contrasted by exposed structural steel, polished concrete floors, and a textured concrete fireplace. A locally sourced Claro walnut table, measuring 10-feet in length, creates a comfortable dining space, its live edge balancing the clean lines of the living room. Additional furnishings reinforce the client’s desire for a minimalist environment.”

outdoor pool

house seen at night

Related: This modern vacation home embraces indoor-outdoor living in Ontario

In addition to passive cooling and use of the stack effect in the double-height living space, the energy-conscious Los Altos Residence is also equipped with photovoltaic and domestic hot-water rooftop panels to offset electricity consumption. Energy is further conserved with a highly insulated building envelope and large overhangs that block unwanted solar gain. Concrete radiant floors also provide added warmth in the winter season.

+ Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

Images by Nic Lehoux