Feel free to dismount from that horse with no name when you get to the Tehachapi Sawmill House. Built in the midst of California’s harsh Mojave Desert at the foot of the Tehachapi Mountains, the Sawmill house is a single-family unit that is sustainable and completely off-grid. The 5,200 square foot home was built from tough materials—and it would have to be to survive the harsh climate with its heat in the summer and cold in the winter, not to mention the prolific wildfires that plague the area. The builders ascribed to a scavenger mentality, using reclaimed and recycled materials for much of the building. Concrete block, steel, and glass comprise the buildings.
The main living area of the home features a hearth that acts as a fire pit for gathering inhabitants and for warming the home. A wheel crank retracts a 12 by 26 foot window wall, opening the home to the open-air pavilion connected to the outdoor terrace. And because of how the house is situated, occupants will be able to take advantage of the canyon winds and diurnal temperature changes to keep the home comfortable. Solar panels with a battery provide power, while radiant slabs take care of the heating. A water-water heat pump is another source of heat and works in conjunction with the heat loop buried in the ground.
This net zero home is more than a self-sufficient place to be, it’s a safe haven from the harshness of the world around it.
Architects: Olson Kundig
Design Principal: Tom Kundig