Straw-bale solution

Natural approach to keeping climate extremes at bay

"Handsome regional style in an energy-efficient design."
- jury comment

SPECIAL AWARD, David E. Shambach, Architect, Tucson
Summers run hot and winters can be bone-chilling in the high-desert environment of Payson, Arizona, so the challenge here was to design a 1,960-square-foot home that could maintain a comfortable interior temperature all year. At the same time, the owners wanted their house to depict principles of sustainable architecture. So the architect made straw-bale construction - with its naturally well-insulated, thick walls that are reminiscent of Southwestern masonry construction - the basis for his design.

The site is part of an old cattle ranch, and the house draws its form, as well as the wood, metal, and stacked-rock palette, from nearby homestead buildings. Cross-shaped in plan, the home resembles a one-room cabin that was expanded over time. The main axis - a long, lofty great room containing living, dining, and kitchen spaces - is flanked by lower-ceilinged bedrooms.

The house faces south to take advantage of sun and afternoon breezes that vent the interior. A 10-foot-deep porch shades major living spaces. Other energy-efficient features abound, including double-glazed windows, heavy attic insulation, a ridge-venting roof system, a 6-inch-thick concrete floor (which adds heat-absorbing mass for low-angled winter sun), and a heat-reflecting Rumford fireplace.

ARCHITECT: (520) 624-9366