By Jane Ellison
Imagine, if you will, what a truly “green” home—one with every detail focused on sustainability—would be like. Welcome to 3Palms!
While many Californians dream of a beachfront getaway, that dream has come to life at 3Palms as a celebration of modernism that demonstrates the owners’ deep appreciation of contemporary design and commitment to sustainability.
A collaborative method, adopted during the home’s early planning stages, engaged a team of professionals that met regularly to draft solutions to design challenges as they arose. “During the preliminary design phase, these stakeholders reviewed design drawings and provided input related to their areas of expertise,” John A. Turturro, project designer, explains.
“This served to encourage a group dynamic and an exchange of ideas from which design, engineering and construction were seamlessly integrated,” he adds. “It is a process that also allows for making mistakes with pencil and paper, not with steel and cement.”
Collaboration of this kind is also a requirement for attaining LEED for Homes Platinum Certification—the highest certification available for projects that meet criteria developed by the nonprofit Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council. With no reliance on mechanics or engineering, only on passive systems—sun and wind—the project is truly a case study in green building.
The success achieved through this painstaking process is on full display at this 2,450-sq.-ft. 3-bedroom, 3 ½-bath home that not only meets the clients’ expectations, but also demonstrates how an array of green materials, systems and building design methods can create an extraordinary family retreat.
In compliance with the seismic code, the home is supported by 18 caissons, each 3′ in diameter and set 40′ deep. It was constructed five feet above the previous home’s foundation to accommodate changes in sea level.
The finished structural slab is also the radiant-heated first floor. Roof-mounted Schüco photovoltaic panels provide electricity throughout and warmed water that heats both the interior floor and exterior patio. Unused energy is returned to the grid.
Because the harsh marine environment can be the most challenging aspect to building near the ocean, special care was taken to shield the home, beginning with insulation that provides 20% to 30% more protection than conventional methods. Spray foam insulation, blown between the studs and walls, assures an airtight seal, preventing air from escaping or entering while also preventing the collection of mildew and mold. The eco-friendly clay-finished plastered walls require little maintenance and, like the home itself, promise longevity.
Durability presents another challenge at beachfront locations, especially for owners who plan to enjoy their home for many years. This fact made the decision to use titanium and stainless steel at 3Palms that much easier, despite the increased costs of doing so.
“By selecting stainless steel and titanium (which requires little to no maintenance), you will significantly extend the life of the building while also reducing the amount of metals and other materials from entering landfills,” Bryan Henson, president of Allen Associates Construction, points out. “Owners need to balance upfront costs with a long-term perspective.”
A visitor’s initial experience of this extraordinary home begins at the entrance where a dramatic sequence of ever-more-expanding space draws you to a breathtaking panorama of the Pacific Ocean.
Enormous sliding glass doors (by Schüco) and windows add to the drama. Double-paned with thermal breaks—as all windows are at 3Palms—they create a balance within by preventing temperature transfer. Automated shades, seasonally programmed by time of day, help control glare and can be activated from off-site locations.
Another narrow aperture opens up toward the sea and provides cross ventilation. Similar windows are found on the north and south elevations, providing privacy from adjacent properties, while still capturing the ocean views and providing passive solar heat gain.
If it’s rest and relaxation you’re after, this is the place to find it. Combining living room, dining and kitchen, this grand space invites long conversations and relaxed entertaining.
The very “green” Poggenpohl kitchen not only contributes to the modernist theme, but also meets the homeowners’ demands for sustainability by avoiding waste and minimizing energy consumption. In the tradition of the manufacturer, the kitchen opens to the larger space, encouraging interaction between chef and guests. A handy portal opens to a deck and grill where the family barbecues.
Sharing the first level is a media room and loft, should there be an extra guest. The cozy space was made available when it was realized that having two garages wasn’t necessary to meet code. A plan to install a lift and park two cars in one garage freed the space that was required for the room and loft, as well as for mechanical equipment and much-needed storage.
A small, but luxurious, guest bathroom, with white bronze basin and shower with cut beach pebble flooring, completes the first level.
Climb the cast concrete stairs, illuminated by a stunning Louis Poulsen-designed pendant, and you’ll discover more light-filled rooms and ocean views.
Here a daughter’s bedroom, with bath, faces large windows and a balcony of its own, providing a similar view enjoyed from the great room below. Adjacent is a guest bedroom and bath where a Murphy bed makes it accessible, at times, to serve as an office or gym as well.
Close by is the master suite and bath where the shower, also with a beach pebble floor, displays a cut-glass mosaic. A dressing area and large wardrobe complete the amenities.
Another spectacular view of the Pacific and its coastline as it winds its way north is visible from both the suite and adjacent balcony.
With its many environmentally sensitive enhancements, 3Palms is an obvious case study for architects and the growing number of owners interested in sustainable living. But for the present and, no doubt, long into the future, it remains a welcoming place to relax with family and friends. Its dramatic design, views and surprises at every turn make it ever-engaging.
3Palms is, after all, a beachfront retreat meant for fun and relaxation.
The 3Palms Team:
Turturro Design Studio, John A. Turturro, project designer, architecture & interiors, johnturturro.wix.com/turturro-design. 805/525-3052
Alliance Design Group, Larry Graves, architect of record. 805/701-1510
Allen Associates Construction, Bryan Henson, general contractor, dennisallenassociates.com. 805/884-8777
Civil Engineer, Laimer Reeder, P.E. 805/985-1700
Originally published in the Spring 2014 issue of Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine.