Camino Los Abuelos, Santa Fe, NM 87508
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An earth-sheltered, passive solar house, that maximizes sun control and thermal mass for winter heating and summer cooling. Extremely solid, built with close attention to detail, quality materials, and craftsmanship.
The design intent of the house, studio, pool complex, landscaping, and preventive erosion control, is to integrate all functions into the natural landscape, using natural materials and permaculture techniques. An extensive network of rainwater run-off swales, intricate flag-stone and brick pathways with mosaic-like stonework details was created by an artist over an 18 year period. This includes retaining walls, terraces, patios, planting areas, a fountain and an outdoor fireplace of finely hand chiseled, curved, multicolored stone, set in the shade of a small patio suitable for grilling.
Matterport 360 Panoramas of the Property: (Tour starts automatically or touch/click to explore specific areas – i.e. Pool Views):
The main house, originally constructed in 1979 by Scott and Wayne Pittman, cabinet makers, was approximately 1500 sq.ft. An additional 1100 sq.ft. upper wing with interior stone walls was added in the late 1980’s by the current owner/architect. All the exterior walls are concrete (filled 12” block in the original construction, and cast concrete in the newer west wing), with the exception of one adobe wall in the upstairs bathroom. All interior walls are either adobe, or cast concrete with stone. By utilizing the moderation of the earth’s temperature (between 52 – 57F annually), and the “flywheel” effect of winter’s cooling carrying over into the summer, and vice versa, cooling costs are zero, and winter heating with three independent propane fire/stoves is between $300 – $500, depending on management of the passive controls, interior design, occupancy, and lifestyle. There are two direct solar gain skylight water tanks to supplement two electric water heaters. The original structure has oversize vigas supporting an earth load of approximately 24” in depth (4” of polystyrene is sandwiched between the multilayer roof structure and the earth).
Despite the earth-sheltered nature of the house, it is filled with light in the cooler months, and employs five operable skylights, cross ventilation, and natural convection for summer cooling. The split-level upper west wing, utilizes 12” glue-laminated beams, also with a green roof structure above, but has a double layer of polystyrene insulation and less earth, 12 – 14.” Interior wall surfaces are plastered with an array of materials and surfaces; mud, untreated and painted diamond trowel, untreated and painted smooth gypsum, and floated Structo-lite. The lower level has brick on sand floors (with the exception of oak in the kitchen), while the upper level has natural slate tiles over a 6” slab.
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There is a separate passive solar work studio building with ample storage, work surfaces, and large sinks. This is connected to a small bedroom and full bath on one side, and a two car garage on the other. This structure is approximately 1,000 sq. ft. and is solidly built with industrial steel frame components, and filled concrete block infill; the exterior wall is insulated all the way around as is the roof. This building has a 6” colored concrete floor. This structure’s roof utilizes a rainwater catchment system coupled to an above ground 1550-gallon storage cistern, 2016. In addition to the two car garage (also with sink and shelving), there is a large outdoor carport tensile structure over a concrete pad, with ample vertical space. The main home and studio/garage buildings have separate septic systems and water main lines; water is from a well shared by three households. Propane tank is a 500-gallon capacity, privately owned.
This 6 acre property also has a raised swimming pool, surrounded by a concrete deck with yacht fencing and security gates for child protection. The pool is a double concrete shell with 4” of polyurethane sandwiched between. There are solar collectors to heat the water, as well as a propane back up heater; this can extend the swimming season well into October. Situated under the south side of the pool deck is a secluded solar and wood-heated sauna, with shower and solar/electric water heater; adjacent is a mechanical room for pool pumps, filter, heater, etc… Three arrays of photovoltaic panels on passive trackers allow for the possibility of operating a direct current pool pump.
A peaceful environment, a thoughtful space to live with.