The future of folding glass walls is here (and before long, everywhere)
Silicon Valley Eichler
Remodeling an Eichler within Title 24
There are 11,000 highly desired Mid-Century Modern Eichler homes sprinkled throughout California. One such house, built in Silicon Valley in 1953, was claimed in a bidding war in 2014.
The 3 bed 1-bath house featured the classic Eichler aesthetics: large fixed glass walls, post and beam structure, and exposed wood paneling. However, the house needed to be redesigned and made larger to host to a growing family. In California reconstruction comes with the demands of the nation’s strictest energy code: Title 24.
The family hired Blaine Architects to improve the floor plan, the interior traffic flow, and to add some much-needed square footage where possible. The wife and husband architecture firm knew Eichler homes well because they live in one.
The team got to work to redesign and optimize the energy efficiency of the home while working within California’s energy codes and the original aesthetic. One of the critical pieces to the success of keeping the aesthetic while enforcing energy efficiency was, not one, but two NanaWall SL60 folding glass wall systems.
Blaine Architects “modeled the whole house of fenestration around the NanaWalls,” and applied a custom glaze to retrofit the remaining original fenestration. Further changes to the notoriously inefficient Eichler design included increased roof insulation, interior wall insulation, and a complete replacement of the radiant floor heating system.
“We took an outdated, unremarkable house and customized it to fit exactly what the family needed. We like this approach to design – customizing an existing home rather than building a big, new home. It’s more efficient and creates less waste.”
Meeting Energy Code While Increasing Functionality
As with most Eichler developments, the home emphasized a connection with the surrounding nature. Traditionally, Eichler homes use large spans of fixed glass and only a small slider for access to the outside. The architects and homeowners agreed that an opening glass wall system and the indoor/outdoor lifestyle it creates only enhances the original theme.
One of the NanaWall systems, which spans 18 feet and contains 6 panels, lives at the rear of the home and connects the dining area to the backyard. The second system, which is 4 panels wide, is at the front of the residence and connects the newly built atrium to the interior. Both systems have a swing door attached to the side jamb for easy access to the outdoors.
The roof of the Eichler home carries much weight and is fully dependent on posts and beams to support its weight; a top-hung opening wall system might not have worked. Even with a structural engineer designing a header for the Eichler, the ability to offer the SL60 as a floor supported system was critical to the project’s success. Now instead of a fixed glass wall lives a fully opening glass wall that creates the desired expanded living into the outdoor spaces.
Conveniently, the NanaWall SL60 is significantly more energy efficient than the single paned old fixed glass that initially lived in the Eichler. Blaine Architects used the Performance method to meet Title 24 which allowed for energy trade-offs. The SL60 systems with Solarban 60 Low E glass acted as a positive energy component to help the building reach its overall energy goals.
Preparing The Home for a Family
The homeowners live a particular lifestyle, and it was necessary that their new home accommodated their activities. The parents enjoy entertaining guests and spending time in the kitchen while the children play. Blaine Architects was able to redesign a home that allows for all these activities to happen at one time. It required better use of space and a little expansion.
A second smaller SL60 replaced a solid wall to open up the central kitchen and living space to the recently enclosed atrium. The area serves as a safe play space for the homeowner’s young children. Blaine Architects also incorporated an office and a redesigned kitchen within a few steps of each other. The upgraded kitchen, designed with Kerf cabinets, has a direct sightline into the enclosed space and playroom beyond. The parents can now monitor their children from the kitchen while they cook and entertain guests.
Completed in fall of 2018, the homeowners now enjoy the new wave Eichler and the advantages the NanaWall systems bring to it: energy efficiency, family orientation, and even more emphasis on indoor/outdoor living.