Stunning energy-smart home near D.C. looks like a super swanky Tetris ensemble

Robert M. Gurney
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Architect Robert M. Gurney’s latest eco-friendly design is a spacious stunner that minimizes its environmental impact with passive solar techniques.

Located in Glen Echo, Maryland just outside Washington D.C., the Mohican Hills House is a handsome modern home set on a beautiful forested property. Large expanses of Energy Star glass clad the dwelling to flood the interior with natural light year-round and frame views of the landscape and distant Potomac River.

Surrounded by a grove of mature trees, the Mohican Hills House was strategically positioned to minimize site disturbance and maximize desirable views. The interior is organized around a double-height open-plan living space that branches off into the four bedrooms, office, and other rooms. While the home features glazing on all sides, the majority of the glass panels face south and overlook the Potomac River and a large grass lawn built up on the south-facing slope. The placement of windows ensures that the home is filled with natural light during all daytime hours year-round.

To minimize fossil fuel consumption, the home was designed with passive solar principles. The dark concrete floors help store solar gain and release heat at night, while maximum insulation prevents warmth from escaping. Solar-sensitive shades, natural ventilation, and high-efficiency HVAC equipment help keep the building naturally cool. Timber is used throughout the building and the architect eschewed exotic and expensive hardwoods in favor of forest-managed thermally modified wood valued for its non-toxic and durable qualities.

Stunning energy-smart home near D.C. looks like a super swanky Tetris ensemble

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