Location: Escondido, CA – Year: 2011 – Area: 4,510 Sq. Ft. – Status: Completed
Design team: Rodrigo Romero
- Construction Documents development
- Coordination with consultants and building officials
- Building Permit processing
- Responded to owner’s and contractors RFI’s during construction.
The Orta Residence, in Escondido California, was designed and built to replace a structure that burned down in 2008. Except for the pool, nothing from the original house was saved.
The site is a 1.8 acre suburban lot with amazing views towards the East, a considerable slope (also towards the East), some large boulders, the existing pool, and some existing vegetation, including fruit trees, oak trees, and palm trees.
The original house had it’s main entrance on a second level, meaning residents had to go up a set of stairs that laid on top of a big boulder on the south side of the house. For the new house, the clients wanted to be able to enter the house on the first level. They were willing to remove the existing boulder but I felt that it was an important aspect of the site and I wanted to keep it if possible.
The existing pool is a very pretty site element, with a waterfall, that had to be integrated into the new design. Connecting the house visually as well as functionally to the existing pool was essential.
In addition to the program and project requirements being a bit complex, (with five bedrooms, four and a half bathrooms, a family room, a pool room, a movie theater, a bar, an office, etc.), the site has a considerable slope and amazing views. These two factors had a major effect on the final design. I wanted to reduce the building’s footprint as much as possible, while limiting site work (grading and excavation), taking advantage of the views, optimizing south exposure for passive heating, and respecting the existing vegetation. The final design resulted in a house with a reduced footprint that stayed within the original building’s footprint and a set of half-levels that allowed the structure to integrate into the existing grade with minimal grading done.
As I said earlier, views from this location are amazing! I probably haven’t said it enough. I tried to provide great views to each living space. I’ll just show you some examples, although they don’t really do justice to the experience of being there. One great memory that I will cherish forever is about being there early in the morning one day. I went to see how the construction was going. The construction crew had not arrived yet so I had time to relax on a balcony, drink my coffee and watch the sun rise behind the mountains. I just loved it.
Energy efficiency was another important factor that helped shape the building’s envelope as well as position the interior living spaces.
Living spaces were stacked and offset in order to provide south and east exposure to most of them. This allowed for passive heating, natural lighting, and natural cross-ventilation.
The HVAC system was split into three different zones, this reduces the need to heat or cool the entire house when only a specific zone is in use.
The roof has an overhang of 30 inches, which is optimal for allowing winter sun (on the south side) and preventing summer sun. This overhand makes a huge impact in the energy saved by reducing the need for mechanical heating and cooling.
All these factors, along with proper insulation all around and windows with a U-Factor of 0.38 or lower, helped the building reach a 27.8% better performance than is required by Title 24 standard.
A detailed 3D model was created in AutoCAD. I used VIZ Render to generate the renderings and the animation. These were done in 2010. The renderings show the Orta Residence as it was designed. You may notice a few differences between the house as designed vs how it was built.
Here are some samples of the construction documents for this project: