Defense against wildfire

Architectural elements embrace as well as protect against nature's forces
"An exceptionally imaginative response to the climate and the site."
- jury comment

SPECIAL AWARD, Barton Myers Associates, Los Angeles
The oak-, madrone-, and sycamore-filled canyons in Santa Barbara County are beautiful but dangerous: The tinder-dry landscape means fire looms as an ever-present threat. So when architect Barton Myers decided to build his home here, he took special care to combine maximum wildfire resistance with design that capitalizes on the natural character of his boulder-strewn creekside site.

Each of the three steel-and-glass structures - main house, studio, and guest house - can open wide to the views and fresh air because of oversize glazed sectional doors that roll up (similar to garage doors) and sliding doors. However, an outer layer of roll-down metal shutters can also close up the house like a clam in case of wildfire. These shutters also add security and thermal insulation.

Flat roofs furnish more fire resistance as well as thermal mass, since they are covered with shallow pools of water. In addition, the rear section of the guest-house roof incorporates a 4-foot-deep lap pool accessible from the patio of the main building. Recirculating water cascades down the rooftops through a series of falls and ponds to create yet another fire barrier.

The energy-efficient home is cooled by summer breezes that enter through doors and rear clerestory windows. Overhanging roofs shade the interior during the summer but allow sunlight to reach the concrete floor in winter.

ARCHITECT: (310) 208-2227