Semi-Subterranean Digs: Modern Take on Native Pit Houses



Modernism meets traditional environmental systems in this elegant dwelling seemingly sliced into the ground around it, drawing on geothermal advantages without forcing its residents entirely underground.

Dubbed the Edgeland Residence, this project by Bercy Chen Studio rehabilitates an existing brownfield site and “takes advantage of the earth’s mass to maintain thermal comfort throughout the year” with an “insulative green roof and a 7‐foot excavation‐ gaining benefits from the earth’s mass to help it stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.”

The residence is composed of two primary volumes on either side of an artificial void – one side for daytime activities (living, cooking and so forth) and the other for nighttime (sleeping), oriented based on the trajectory of the sun through the sky.

Beyond bringing back an historic American architectural typology based on passive systems, the project also renews the local ecology: “Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center collaborated to reintroduce over 40 native species of plants and wildflowers to the Edgeland House green roof and site, serving to help protect the local ecosystem.”

Contemporary systems extend tradition and environmentalism, including an “integrated hydronic HVAC system” that combine “hydronic heating and a green roof for maximum energy efficiency.”

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