Wednesday, September 14, 2016

California's Energy Future

As a member of the Board of Directors of Passive House California for a year and a half I want to share this press release about a new book featuring cases studies of 32 California buildings:



First Book on California’s Passive House Buildings
Los Angeles, September 1st, 2016
Passive House California (PHCA), a non-profit organization promoting the Passive House Standard in California, in collaboration with Low Carbon Productions, a Passive House publisher, will release a book detailing California’s exemplary Passive House buildings during the Greenbuild Conference & Expo in Los Angeles, October 5th & 6th. The book will present 32 buildings, including the first three Passive House buildings in the Los Angeles area, and documents how this building standard is being implemented in California.
About the Passive House Standard: The Passive House Standard is a very low energy consumption building standard defined by the Passive House Institute (Passivhaus Institut.)  The concept and metrics were developed in Germany in the ‘90s and have evolved into a globally applicable standard. The core building science principles combine the fundamentals of Passive Solar and Superinsulation, with a focus on occupant comfort as the primary end goal.  Passive House buildings are proven to use up to 90% less energy than regular construction by optimizing their passive features – hence the name, Passive House.  Since the ‘90s more than 30,000 buildings of all types (single-family houses, multifamily buildings, offices, schools, supermarkets, sports centers, high rises, etc.) have been certified in various climates across North America and around the world.

Flexibility: The Passive House standard sets very low energy consumption goals, but allows the architect or building designer to create the building they prefer within the required targets.  The building design is modified to suit the local climate. The following construction principles need to be respected to meet the energy targets:
-        High levels of insulation on walls, roof, and floor
-        A very airtight building envelope
-        Thermal bridge free design
-        An active ventilation system
-        High efficiency windows

Implementation: The Passive House Standard is now widely recognized as the benchmark standard for new construction, with the supporting EnerPHit Standard providing options and paths for existing and historic buildings to reduce their energy consumption.  More and more cities and regions around the world, including many in the United States (San Francisco, Marin County, New York), have incorporated the Passive House standard into their building incentive programs, with Vancouver, BC and New York City recently requiring the Passive House standard for new municipal buildings.

This book demonstrates how the Passive House Standard provides a reliable and well-documented path to build and renovate houses to meet our State’s Net Zero Energy targets. More than ever the Passive House Standard is the way to design, build, and retrofit our buildings in California.

Contact: Xavier Gaucher – – 626 524 0505

Sunday, August 2, 2015


On occasion we get to design and fabricate a piece of architectural woodworking.

Here is a gate, especially designed by Hara Kumaran, to quietly announce a secret garden. Materials are home grown redwood and copper.

First designs for Karen to choose from:

Here are a few photos of the design selected:

Thursday, June 18, 2015


While in Los Angeles recently, we visited the Eames House in Pacific Palisades. Talented, prolific, Charles and Ray Eames, are among the most important American designers of the 20th. Century. Their home, overlooking Santa Monica Bay across a meadow,  designed with Eero Saarinen, used pre-fabricated parts, minimal materials, maximizing volume, integrating with nature, and setting the stage for 'life in work'.  What stood out?  In essence, the house and its adjacent studio are 'working' boxes: simple, direct, both inside and out, a flourish or two but no pretense, connects one in to out to in, open and comfortable. Certainly cutting edge for its era. Not reproducible directly as it is. Very reproducible amended for modern codes and energy efficiency.   The house is owned and maintained by the Eames Foundation with the family involved. During our visit a grand daughter was changing the flowers, colors chosen as her grand mother preferred.

There is much media available about them. This book is nice:
The Work of Charles and Ray Eames: a Legacy of Invention,
Abrams/ Library of Congress/ Vitra Design Museum.

                                Their studio at 901 Abbot Kinney in Venice, CA.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

To Define A Wonderful Work of Architecture

"... a pleasing overall form; consistency in use of materials; care in details; sensible scale and proportions; an overall coherence; and, above all, habitability."

From the essay "Origins, Evolutions, and Ironies" by Donald Canty
to be found in the book "The Sea Ranch" by Donlyn Lyndon and Jim Alinder.

So nicely put.  I might only add a spark of artistry, humor,  and a subtle yet palpable sense of craft.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Buildings I Like - Barns!

We recently volunteered to help fabricate and assemble a beautiful timberframe barn at UC Santa Cruz, recreating the Cowell Ranch hay barn. Slated to become a center for sustainability programs, properly maintained this 'new' barn should last hundreds of years - effectively the life cycle of the trees from which the timbers were milled. Congratulations are in order to Karl and Ginger Bareis of Santa Cruz Timberframes,, for their splendid work; proving some of the old ways are not a 'lost' art.

For the news release:

A short video:

And photos:

First and third photo credit: Guy Lasnier

Finally, timberframes are a core strength of Kumaran Design. Would you like one?

Thursday, February 12, 2015


I recently read two books I can recommend:  The Soul of a Tree by George Nakashima and its companion Nature Form & Spirit by his daughter Mira Nakashima. They chronicle his compelling life and work exploring the nexus between craft, design and finding the essence within.

I find lot's of similarities between his approach, outlook and understanding with my own. There is a kinship there.

Monday, December 1, 2014


There is a nice entry available at Houzz  titled: Design Workshop: 10 Reasons to Put Craft Into Modern Architecture.  

This article sits square with me. No craft - less heart - soul quite hard to find.   Talk to me about your next project. Marrying modern with craft with nature hits a sweet spot. Shall we?

See it here: