Hillside House on Chesapeake


A dynamic couple relocated from Maryland to Charlottesville with their two young daughters to take advantage of the city’s great quality of life, and imagined a house where they could both work and raise their daughters.  Faced with a rock filled sloping site, we designed their house to engage the hillside, transforming the site into a sublime nurturing environment filled with light, air and easy access to the outdoors.   

The house is long rectangle (in plan) running east west to take advantage of the southern orientation, the views towards Monticello and allow for a significant play area in the backyard.  The north side is a taut composition of glass, wood and corrugated metal.  A large expanse of glass marks the entry and provides a glimpse into the two-story wood paneled living area beyond.  The south side is made up of terraces, porches and windows overlooking the neighborhood.   The living/dining/kitchen area flows out to the screened porch through five large sliding glass doors.   

The house is designed with advanced Passive House principles to take advantage of the best solar orientation and natural energy flows.  The southern orientation of the house allows for heat gain in the winter, while the deep overhangs and porch protect against sun penetration in the warmer months.  Using a “solar chimney” effect with the two-story living area, sliding doors and operable windows on the ground level in the living area and operable windows on the 2nd level draw natural ventilation from the bottom to top of the house.  A 21kW solar array of photovoltaic panels is to be installed on the south facing roof to garner enough solar energy to provide power for the full electrical demand of the house, making this one of the 1st net-zero houses in this part of Charlottesville.