Boulder House

Stylistically akin to California’s historic missions, the Dunham-Kidwell straw-bale residence is built around a large boulder. The boulder’s thermal mass and its surrounding moat in the home’s great room cool and humidify the air in summer and passively heat it in winter. Above the boulder is a central tower with an oversized fan that draws air up and out in summer and re-circulates warm air in the winter months.

Environmental Features

  • Super insulated straw bale walls make the building act like a thermos that holds warm air during the winter and cool air during the summer. Title 24 energy calculations show the house exceeds California standard compliance by 41%.
  • Solar panels pre-heat the water and future photovoltaic panels in conjunction with existing inverter and battery storage will eventually provide most of the home’s electricity.
  • Central tower with oversized fan draws air up and out in summer months and recirculates warm air in winter months.
  • Roof overhangs and arched arcade minimize solar heat gain during the summer
  • Water trough and boulder’s thermal mass in the great room cool and humidify the air in summer and passively heat the air in the winter
  • Earthen plaster interior walls and earthen floors consist of all natural materials that do not emit chemicals, unlike more conventional finishes
  • Xeriscape landscaping (low water and low maintenance)

The residence was featured in an article by Bill Manson in the Los Angeles Times on June 8, 2001.

See a recent video of the boulder home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mzz86QMnoTE