tree farm residence
location: bend, oregon year: 2017 size: 2,700sf status: in design

Set in an open, grassy meadow bordered by mature pine forest, the Tree Farm Residence is a finely-tuned instrument for sustainable living in Oregon’s High Desert. The clients’ brief called for a high-performance, zero-maintenance, contemporary home with a compact footprint, to be located on a two acre parcel in the newly-created Tree Farm neighborhood several miles west of Bend. This home represents a departure in several ways for the clients, whose previous large and inefficient residence presented a mis-match with their otherwise light ecological footprint. 

Lightfoot A+D responded to the challenge by proposing a simple bar-like layout (oriented 5 degrees east of south for optimal solar orientation), defined by a series of parallel ‘thick walls’ which in turn extend out into the landscape to frame and delineate a variety of outdoor patios, courtyards, and gardens. The sense of openness gained by the meadowed site also presents challenges for privacy; in response, the parallel site walls are configured to provide variable layers of visual and auditory screening from the nearby road and neighboring properties, while window and door openings in the house itself are precisely tailored in their placement and sizes to welcome sun and views where desired. 

In targeting Passive House energy standards as well as Net-Zero energy consumption, the thermal envelope of the home is kept compact and has been meticulously audited through iterative energy modeling exercises to achieve the aggressive performance goals. Several alternative construction systems were explored, including ICF block, SIPs, and CLT structural panels, and yet an advanced light wood framing system was chosen for its relative economy, familiarity for the local tradesmen, and inherent design flexibility. Thermally-absorptive concrete slab floors soak in heat and passively modulate temperatures year-round, while operable clerestory windows encourage stack-effect ventilation in lieu of active air conditioning in warmer months. 

The exterior material palette is first and foremost considered as a durable, air-tight assembly that must respond with aplomb to a harsh fire-prone and wind-swept landscape. The materials deployed are considered to have ‘lifetime’ durability, and include sheets of raw steel, box-rib and standing seam metal siding, thermally-broken poured-in-place concrete walls, and metal-clad triple pane doors and windows.