Ken Haggard and Polly Cooper have built natural homes with passive solar techniques and powered by renewables since the seventies, so when in August 1994 a wildfire destroyed their property and home, they decided to rebuild them back, only better.
source.image: Kirsten Dirksen
They used fire-resistive strawbale walls for their new studio and home, built next to the only structure (also made with straw bale) that survived the fire. Strawbale has a two-hour fire rating when clad in earthen plasters.
The studio’s main facade includes both a masonry and a water Trombe wall for storing daytime heat for use overnight. The water wall uses an internal chamber filled with water that regulates the interior temperature: convection currents within the water help transfer heat through the entire thermal mass much quicker than only masonry.
When the Haggards bought the land in 1980 it was an abandoned trout farm, but they worked to restore the waterways to create natural swimming pools (filtered by plants) not just for people, but also for endangered species of turtles and frogs. A charming little piazza sheltered by trees and several ponds helps regulate the area’s temperature and create a respite for them and the local fauna —students and researchers from Cal Poly come to the property to study the frog population.