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: Police line up outside the White House in Washington, D.C. as protests against the killing of George Floyd continue.
    Perspective

    America’s Cities Were Designed to Oppress

    Architects and planners have an obligation to protect health, safety and welfare through the spaces we design. As the George Floyd protests reveal, we’ve failed.

  2. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

  3. Equity

    What Happened to Crime in Camden?

    Often ranked as one of the deadliest cities in America, Camden, New Jersey, ended 2017 with its lowest homicide rate since the 1980s.

  4. Demonstrators march on I-94 while participating in a protest against police brutality and the death of George Floyd on May 31
    Transportation

    The Racial Injustice of American Highways

    Demonstrations over the death of George Floyd in the Twin Cities occupied a major artery that tore apart a thriving African-American neighborhood.

  5. Four New York City police officers arresting a man.
    Equity

    The Price of Defunding the Police

    A new report fleshes out the controversial demand to cut police department budgets and reallocate those funds into healthcare, housing, jobs, and schools. Will that make communities of color safer?

×