Butterfly House in Carmel-by-the-Sea by Feldman Architecture
By Courtney • Nov 27, 2018
As if the location name of this house (which is nestled amidst the greenery in Carmel-by-the-Sea, United States) wasn’t adorable enough, Feldman Architecture named the structure Butterfly House, rendering it perhaps the most welcoming sound home we’ve ever heard of before we even set eyes on it!
Butterfly House was designed for an aging couple who intended to use it as a retirement retreat after a lifetime of hard work, as well as a relaxing escape for their grown children to give them a break from the everyday demands of work life. The search for this spectacular piece of land took two whole years, which motivated the designers to really do the area justice. When the clients found the plot, they noted countless butterflies fluttering through the meadow, which is why architects took that concept as inspiration and namesake for the house itself.
As part of doing the landscape justice, designers and the client agreed that the house should strive to integrate indoor and outdoor spaces. They aimed to keep the aesthetic modern but simple with separate spaces for everyday living and visitors who want to rest. This is why the house was built with three distinct pavilions, each with their own impressive butterfly inspired roof.
Each pavilion of Butterfly House has its own function. The central pavilion, for example, contain the main living, dining, and cooking spaces. The other two provide everything residents and guests need for sleeping, bathing, and relaxing on their downtime. Though each pavilion is modest in size, all three feel free and sprawling thanks to the way each one opens out at the back into a lovely outdoor space set up like a room, giving visitors a stunning view of the canyon below the house and the Californian hills surrounding it in the distance.
One of our favourite facts about this house is that the butterfly inspired roofs aren’t just decorative! Although they do give the house an artsy feel that’s both modern but also cohesive with the natural landscape, they also harvest rainwater. This is an important “green” architectural feature in California, where water is an increasingly limited resource. Each roof funnels water into landscape integrated collection pools, which then funnel it into cisterns used to irrigate the natural landscape.
Particularly in the stormy season, the butterfly roofs are an innovation because they work with the natural topography of the area to carry water to parts of the land that need it. This creates what designers called a “seamless transition” between nature and building, a concept this mimicked throughout the home and each of the three pavilions. This is thanks in part to the inclusion of plants in the indoor and outdoor decor schemes, letting greenery move through the building the way water moves through the land. These elements inspire a calming sense of quiet and naturally artful awareness.
Keeping with the theme of enabling a natural flow of all things between indoor and outdoor areas, the colour scheme of the house is quite neutral as well. This is reflected in the concrete floors and walls, large glass windows and opening doors, plywood ceilings, and steel supports. These natural surfaces also keep the space cool without running systems that put a strain on the environment; concrete and glass absorb much of the sunlight and heat during the day and releasing it at night when things cool down. The house uses very little energy as a result of this and a hidden solar panel system that runs nearly everything inside.
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