The site is small and flat in a fully developed residential section of Los Altos. The soil is sandy and a variety of fruit and other deciduous trees are scattered about the site.


The moderating effect of the Pacific Ocean produces a mild climate in this region. Buffered by coastal mountains, the range of daily and seasonal temperatures is greater than in San Francisco 30 miles north. However, this area is also subject to low, coastal stratus clouds and is similarly characterized by dry and wet seasons. Sunshine is abundant.

• Winter: mild, temperatures average between the 40’s and 60’s

• Summer: warm, temperatures average between the 60’s and 80’s


The house was designed for a young professional couple. The style – single story, stucco, and hipped roof with cedar shakes – is typical of homes in this area. However, the interior is quite the contrary. The sense of “a house within a house” is visually evident. Almost half the square footage of the house is solarium space with totally wood finishes, full roof glass and operable awning for sun control. Only primary activity areas are isolated interior spaces. Natural light is abundant throughout the house. The mild climate and good solar insolation of the area permits practical use of passive solar / direct gain techniques for heating, less dependence upon earth mass, greater surface to volume ratio, and ultimately greater use of the active air envelope as integrated living space. Drawing outside air through an opening on the north at ground level effects ventilation and exhausting of excessive heat gain.

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Interior Solarium Total Sq Ft
772 320 1092