Welcome to our gallery featuring the Inverted House project by MEL/ARCH Architectural Studio!
The goal of this innovative project was to create a home that was as green and low energy as possible.
This is quite the feat for a 3000 square foot home, one that was fully realized by the end of the project.
With a monthly average electric bill of $80 in an entirely electric home with no solar panels, though it is pre-wired for them, this is an amazing accomplishment.
One of the features that helped to achieve this — and the namesake of the house — is the inverted “v” shaped roof to catch rainwater for garden irrigation and a roof misting to help cool the home.
The first level of the home is constructed out of concrete and sits partially underground, to help with the geothermal features of the home. The second level is constructed entirely of steel and glass.
Reclaimed and recycled materials were utilized in the design wherever possible to make the home as sustainable and “green” as possible.
Since it was important to maintain the character of the first floor being an “earth home,” the second floor is suspended above it, resting on four piers on either side of the home. The upstairs spans approximately 50 feet between the piers to give the illusion that the second floor floats above the ground floor.
We hope that this innovative design offers up inspiration for making your own design greener and more environmentally friendly!
Please enjoy the rest of the gallery!
The foyer of the house is located on the second floor. Large windows and massive front doors lend to the open-concept design of the second level and features a mix of dark wood and the pale oak used throughout the rest of the design. Coat hooks and a built-in bench can be seen next to the door.
Here you can see the foyer and the stairs that lead down to the first floor of the home. The brick wall at the end of the room actually houses the fireplace and acts as an accent wall to the rest of the house. None of the walls in the second level reach all the way to the ceiling, solidifying the open concept.
The central focus of the living room is the massive brick fireplace. The freestanding “Heatilator” unit, which circulates room temperature air around the inside and exhausts it into the house to heat it in the colder winter months. The wood wrapped flu pipe unifies the space without having to take away from the overall decor.
A “Flokati” rug provides warmth and comfort over the linoleum floor. The gently sloping ceiling is covered in perforated ceiling tiles to serve as an acoustical ceiling. With no partitions in the room the ceiling, and acoustical fabric hidden underneath helps with sound diffusion. The coffee table was designed and built by MEL/ARCH studio and makes use of recycled materials used throughout the rest of the house.
The kitchen and dining area runs through the center of the house, backing up against the stairway to the lower level. The floors of the space are covered in “forbo linoleum flooring”, a natural flooring made out of saw dust and linseed oil. It has antimicrobial properties which helps with keeping it clean. The 13’x50′ window that runs along the back of the house provides a great view of the surrounding countryside.
Stainless steel cabinets continue the sleek, modern design of the house. The backsplash is made of one single piece of linoleum that matches the colors of the countertop. Around the corner from the kitchen, separating the kitchen from the study area is the large fridge and pantry cabinet.
The long dining table in the kitchen offers a great view of the backyard and a perfect place to guests to sit, relax, and watch the preparations while entertaining. The windows have a privacy tint on them, eliminating the need for curtains and A/C and lighting have been integrated into the ceiling paneling system.
This study area sits opposite the living room and has a built-in desk facing a small seating area with the gorgeous pendant light hanging over it. The cabinets back up against the pantry and the fridge and work to separate the the study area from the rest of the house.
The stairs leading down to the lower level breaks up the space without actually closing it off from the upper level. Here we catch the first glimpse of the maple wood floor featured in the first floor, it was reclaimed from a school gymnasium and refinished. You’ll notice, to the right, that the foyer is missing. Large pocket doors can be shut to close off the doors from the rest of the room.
Being an “earth home”, the designers made extensive use of recycled and reclaimed materials, like the maple flooring from a local school gymnasium. The stairs match the open concept of the second floor with an integrated metal railing. Suspended ceiling panels offer an extra sense of warmth and intimacy to the partially underground first floor.
This bedroom on the lower level features a decorative stone wall that was salvaged from the Fort Worth Amon Carter Museum. The wall is comprised of local Austin shell stone and provides warmth and visual appeal to the underground space. Bright colors and plenty of lights help balance the lack of windows in the lower level.
The second bedroom in the lower level is one of the only rooms to feature windows that look out into the backyard. Bold but muted colors brighten up the space without taking away from the materials or scenery present outside. Since the first floor is partially underground, it provides a great thermal mass for heating the home in the winter and cooling it in the summer. The exterior walls are 12″ thick concrete which helps with this geothermal heating and cooling as well as allowing the downstairs to serve as a tornado shelter — the house is located in what is considered “tornado alley.”
The front of the house includes a deck for outdoor entertaining and a charming pond with water feature. The exterior of the house features a “double skin” cork finish. This means that the concrete walls are covered in a layer of cork with air space behind it to allow air to flow through it and help to keep the house cooler.
The panoramic windows of the second level give a feeling of being one with nature. From this angle you can see that the ground floor is build into the hillside, adding to the energy efficiency of the home.
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