When we first saw Francois Perrin's addition in Brentwood, California (a nice part of LA), the simplicity and use of basic materials was attractive. Perrin says it "is a Guest House for an anthropologist to store the collection he gathered during 20 years in Asia and host visiting Buddhist scholars." It does all the right things- "It uses cross ventilation from the specific position of the opening s to cool down the building in extreme summer heat, catching the ocean's breeze in the afternoon through the operable skylight on the roof. Regarding the energy, there are solar panels on the roof and the client plans to add some wind turbines to be fully off the grid."
But what the heck is going on with the plastic walls?
We really like the idea of leaving the structure visible, and it is California so the insulation is not needed for the cold. The architect says
" The clear plastic skin creates an optical illusion with the sunlight that makes the project disappear at some times like a mirage and thus creates a minimal impact to the existing house and neighborhood. The Project is using "air" insulation, which is a void in between the wood frame and the translucent skin that protects the interior from the cold and the heat."
We did not understand that; it looks like the way one builds a solar heater, not cooler, the sun streams through the plastic and warms the wood behind. Throw some pennies in and you have a solar heater design previously shown on TreeHugger. Or maybe there is some idea of a stack effect that keeps the air circulating, but on the surface it didn't make sense. We asked Francois:
"This building was permitted (city of Los Angeles) as unheated structure, so does not require insulation. But the air in between the interior sheet of plywood and exterior sheet of polycarbonate does act as an insulation, preventing the space from being too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. (a similar technology of air layer is used for some clothes now) some people have been claiming that mold will be created in that space, but with small holes on top and bottom of the walls, air circulates and a year after being in place and going through all kind of weather (the last few weeks heavy rain), the structure remains intact."
And, we assume, comfortable.
Anyhow we love the tatami floor, the exposed wood, framing and parallam beams, and the warmth of it all. Still not sure about the walls though. ::Francois Perrin