November 21st, 2011
It’s times like this that reminds me of why I went into architecture.
Last Saturday, I had the joy of visiting the Tesla House by David Gottfried with a house tour by that very designer, whom described himself as an “author, green building activist and keen entrepreneur” and was the person whom started the first green building council, in the form of the much-familiar USGBC.
Those whom know me back in high school know that I went into architecture for a very simple reason. Excuse my language, but many San Francisco and urban housing sucks. Many units are old, impractical, uncomfortable, and sometimes downright illegal. I went into architecture because I wanted to create an atmosphere people wants to live in – a dream house for everyday common people.
If I have the money today, I would buy the Tesla Home that is selling now.
The first word for the Telsa Home that came to mind after my visit was warmth. The house has many wonderful, modern features. It was certainly a very green house, both in term of passive design and technical design. But what moved me was the fact that I can imagine myself as a child, running around and exploring the house with excitement. I think a lot of the houses in professional magazine looks really modern and clean, but sometimes they lack the sense of mystery, fun, and warmth that many people seek in a home.
The Telsa House is sited at a beautiful community in Oakland. When people think Oakland, they think gangs and guns. But actually, Oakland have some very beautiful communities, this was one of them. Located at the Rockridge Bart station, it is a hub of tasteful antique stores, bookshops, marketplace, and coffeehouse. If the road isn’t so cracked from neglect, I would have thought I was back in San Luis Obispo! I walked around and explored the neighborhood after the house tour, but that’s a different story. Let’s get to the house:
The little house sat behind the richly grown front-yard – no lawn here. I could tell that most of those plants were California-climate plants. It reminded me of a small cottage house hidden in a secret garden, though the garden didn’t covered up the stair-elevated house.
Upon entering the door, the atmosphere already had distinguished feel to it. I loved the feel of its enclosed porch. I was literally surrounded by wood. The wood wasn’t painted and kept its light and natural feel. I know people who think that unpainted wood is too informal, but when properly done, it’s quite beautiful. I love how it worked out – uniform yet a bit informal, giving off a very relax feel to it.
The center of the room, I feel, is the dinning room.
I tried taking the photo in two different camera setting, but it didn’t really capture the atmosphere. With natural lighting from only one side and window that are high and narrow, the dinning area is a bit darker than the rest of the house. But it’s not the cold, scary kind of darkness. With the open, well-lit kitchen adjacent and the antique-feel wooden furniture inside, the dining room felt quite intimate – I can imagine a small Thanksgiving dinner with candles and close family member there.
The kitchen feels much more lighted and airy. I don’t think I would ever forget that they have a mechanical-sliding vent!
Look like a flat table, right? But the metal at the top of the range is actually the vent. Push the right button, and it will slide up into a vent! There was quite a bit of similar technology like that in the house – hidden gadgets that makes the house function well but still look warm and colorful. The house had a hidden attic ladder that looked very fun. And take a look at this:
Can you guess what it is? For a moment I thought it was a decoration or some sort of foldable table. The next picture gives a better clue:
It is a radiant heater! They are done so well, I didn’t even notice this one until I was about to leave the house.
They also have a fireplace in their living room, with a new glass enclosure and damper as required by LEED for Homes.
Yes, the living room was very well-lit. It faced the street, and the window blinds could go up and was made of a mylar-like fabric, letting in light while preserving privacy.
In term of cooling, there was also fans that spins both direction, which can push heat up or down.
Solar powered studio, bench chairs, vegetable garden… David knows how to relax.
Look, there was even an outdoor shower!
The house’s energy and water is gathered through various different devices.
Turns out that David is selling the house since he was planning to move out into a larger house for his daughter. I wonder how his new house will turn out, considering how functional and fun his current house is.
End of the day
I saw a green book at David’s studio and in another room. At first it didn’t really register in my mind, which was being so distracted by the house (it’s a wonderful place to be distracted…). Then, before I left, I decided to look at the book more closely… and realized the book was by David!
And now I patiently waits for David’s first book “Greed to Green” to come from the library. I am debating about “Greening My Life”. It’s not available at any libraries in the California system, and I generally don’t buy books unless I read them before. I would love to try out the ebook version, but the price is $9.99, which I am sure I can get for cheaper with a physical, used book – and I prefer physical books. I guess I will read “Greed to Green” first and see how I like it.
Oh, totally irrelevant, but I got a Nook!!!!
*Cough* So umm… yes, I will probably end up buying the ebook if I like “Greed to Green”. Anyone else visited the house?