Defined Design

Cooper Joseph Studio replaced the home’s outdated redwood porch with one made from sustainably sourced ipe, the same wood used for this screen, which offers the homeowners shade.


Location Sonoma County, CA
Size 2,200 square feet
Completed 2010
Architect Cooper Joseph Studio
Associate Architect Richardson Architects
Landscape Supplier Peter Jacobsen
Contractor Red Horse Constructors
Energy 100% solar powered
Materials Salvaged wood from existing porch
Roof White reflective roof

Sonoma Residence

A harsh climate doesn’t come to mind when one imagines Sonoma, California, but droughts, floods, soaring temperatures, and killing frosts are common, making an off-the-grid home a challenge. But Cooper Joseph Studio’s renovation of the Sonoma Residence, the home of two “locavore farmers,” is executed brilliantly.

The 2,200-square-foot house features a new glass-and-steel curtain wall and warm ipe screen that replaces the existing porch, the original redwood of which was used to build an agricultural shed on the property. Near the shed, a solar array provides all of the home’s electricity. Plant choice was important for the 25-acre site. Cooper Joseph Studio used a xeriscape planting technique to conserve water during drought months and also planted lavender fields around the house to provide food for the owners’ bees.

Inside, oak is used for the floors, kitchen cabinetry, and wall panels, and the kitchen and fireplace area feature white silestone. Though the architects retained the majority of the original framing and roof structure, they extricated the upstairs living room in order to open the lower-level den to the full height of the home. –Julie Schaeffer

Archaeo Architects installed extensive skylights in this desert home to allow the house to respond to changes throughout the day and seasons. Passive solar strategies help heat and cool the home.


Location Sante Fe, NM
Size 4,160 square feet
Completed 2010
Architect Archaeo Architects
Landscape Architect San Isidro Permaculture
General Contractor Gianardi Construction
Solar Passive solar design
Light Extensive natural light via skylights
Water Rainwater capture, erosion control, xeriscaping

Van Drimmelen/Gore Residence

The overall goal for the Van Drimmelen/Gore Residence, designed and built for owners moving to New Mexico from Amsterdam, was to create a secluded retreat. “The focus was on allowing the natural character of the site to be retained, while the architecture recedes back to frame views within the site and beyond to the panoramic western horizon,” says Jon Dick, founder of Archaeo Architects.

The three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath home has an office, a two-car garage, and a meditation area, and the primary spaces have covered terraces with a view of the Jemez Mountains. Natural light was key. “By using natural light as a form-defining element, the architecture responds to the evolving day as well as the seasons of the year, allowing the house to have a dialogue with the cycles of nature,” Dick says, who also paid close attention to the topography of the lot.

Other sustainable features include passive solar design, rainwater capture for landscape irrigation, erosion control, and xeriscape landscaping. The home has been honored with the Grand Hacienda Award in the Santa Fe 2011 Parade of Homes, as well as awards for Best Overall Design and Best Kitchen. –Zipporah Porton

Nearly everything in the Remote Cabin was salvaged, either from the site—to make the timber-framed porch—or from nearby. Local pine makes up the majority of the interior wood, while a pedestrian bridge is the only access to the aptly named retreat.


Location South Lincoln, VT
Size 956 square feet
Completed 2010
Architect Joan Heaton Architects
Builder Silver Maple Construction
Materials Local and salvaged wood
Salvaged Furniture Claw-foot tub, bathroom vanity, and spiral staircase
Insulation Dense-pack cellulose
Structure Structural insulated panels

Remote Cabin

The site of the Remote Cabin was originally inaccessible—a quarter mile from any road and on the other side of the New Haven River, explains Joan Heaton, principal of Joan Heaton Architects. “The … walk from the edge of the road to the building site shaped the whole project,” she says, explaining that the lack of access helped determine everything from the size and shape of the cabin to materials and construction methods.

A 75-foot pedestrian bridge was eventually built to span the river, but a poured-concrete foundation was impossible without vehicle access. So Heaton designed a system of 20 piers to replace the foundation. Silver Maple Construction transformed a nearby field into a staging site and preassembled features such as the roof’s hemlock trusses.

Much of the cabin came from the site itself, such as the timber-framed porch, which was built with wood from cleared trees. The shutters, siding, and ceiling are local pine, and the cabin’s claw-foot tub, bathroom vanity, and spiral staircase are all salvaged. Additional green features include dense-pack cellulose insulation, structural insulated panels, and the option of future solar panels. –Matt Alderton