The following is a guest post written by Trent Michels for Sustain Charlotte partner Insight Architects
Photos: Insight Architects
It's always exhilarating to witness architects pushing the boundaries of sustainability, while paying homage to cultural heritage. Insight Architects, led by the visionary Kristina Held, has embarked on such an endeavor that truly embodies the fusion of local tradition with innovation.
In the fall of 2020, they were tasked with an intriguing project: to create a self-sufficient passive house reminiscent of North Carolina’s iconic tobacco barns.
The client, who is a yacht designer, was invited to incorporate his expertise in marine design, giving a more personal approach to the design process. By adopting the use of DC power - commonly found in yachts - for appliances and lights, the team ensured minimal energy loss during conversions, showcasing an impeccable blend of niche knowledge with sustainable design.
Further tailoring the design to the site, the team elevated the main living spaces to keep them safe from possible wildlife. Orientation was also crucial. With the house's long axis running east to west, they've maximized sun exposure for the solar panels, while also preserving mesmerizing views and infusing elements that nod to the desired tobacco barn aesthetic.
The sustainability features include a meticulously air-sealed envelope, triple-glazed windows from Germany, and a heat management system ensuring optimal energy conservation. This isn't just a house; it's a testament to what happens when innovation meets tradition.
This work shall stand as a beacon, demonstrating that it's possible to be environmentally conscious while also being deeply rooted in culture and context.