With its shiny recycled-metal rain screen and jauntily angled rooftop solar array, the 712-square-foot cottage is charming and sustainable.

While we were scrolling through adorable photos of tiny houses, the San Francisco–based architect David Baker was doing backyard homesteaders one better with an ambitious project of his own. With its shiny recycled-metal rain screen and jauntily angled rooftop solar array, the 712-square-foot Zero Cottage is both charming and formidably sustainable.

The structure has already made LEED for Homes Platinum and scored 203 GreenPoints, and it is targeting Passivhaus and net-zero energy. When all the certifications come in, the cottage will have more titles per square foot than Denver’s prefab tiny Starbucks.

For the cottage’s vegetated roof, Baker used recycled motorcycle tires as planters.

Built over a ground-floor workshop, the cottage is a narrow, vertical column of rooms. A steep metal stepladder leads from the kitchen and living area on the first level to the bed and bath upstairs. Baker salvaged the cottage’s wood floors from an Oakland pasta factory on the site of Tassafaronga Village, one of David Baker + Partners Architects’ many affordable housing developments in the Bay Area.

With high-efficiency insulation, triple-glazed windows, and a heat-recovery ventilator, the cottage stays warm year-round without a heating system (though San Francisco’s never-freezing climate deserves some credit, too).

For the past two years, Baker has been chronicling the construction process on the Zero Cottage blog. Designing for oneself can make experimenting easier: On his website, the architect muses about his experiments with the metal rainscreen. The tiles, which contain some mirror stainless steel, produce reflections that, he writes, might cause problems in a public space. And then there’s the noise: “The tiles rattle a bit in the wind. I choose to think of this as a charming effect similar to rain on a steel roof. Others might not be so amused.”

All images courtesy of David Baker + Partners Architects

This post originally appeared on Architizer, an Atlantic partner site.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. photo: A lone tourist in Barcelona, one of several global cities that have seen a massive crash in Airbnb bookings.
    Coronavirus

    Can Airbnb Survive Coronavirus?

    The short-term rental market is reeling from the coronavirus-driven tourism collapse. Can the industry’s dominant player stage a comeback after lockdowns lift?

  2. Illustration: two roommates share a couch with a Covid-19 virus.
    Coronavirus

    For Roommates Under Coronavirus Lockdown, There Are a Lot of New Rules

    Renters in apartments and houses share more than just germs with their roommates: Life under coronavirus lockdown means negotiating new social rules.

  3. Equity

    The Problem With a Coronavirus Rent Strike

    Because of coronavirus, millions of tenants won’t be able to write rent checks. But calls for a rent holiday often ignore the longer-term economic effects.

  4. photo: a For Rent sign in a window in San Francisco.
    Coronavirus

    Do Landlords Deserve a Coronavirus Bailout, Too?

    Some renters and homeowners are getting financial assistance during the economic disruption from the coronavirus pandemic. What about landlords?

  5. Equity

    We'll Need To Reopen Our Cities. But Not Without Making Changes First.

    We must prepare for a protracted battle with coronavirus. But there are changes we can make now to prepare locked-down cities for what’s next.

×