Located on an old brownfield site in a formerly industrial area, the Edgeland House is a gesture towards healing old environmental wounds and merging of modern and traditional designs. It is also a prime example of how a home can be heated and cooled efficiently simply by being closer to the earth.
Using the ancient technique of the Native American “pit house” that is dug into the soil, Edgeland is sunk 7 feet underground, making use of the thermal properties of the earth’s mass to regulate temperature year-round. In summer, the surrounding soil stays cooler than the air and acts as a natural air conditioning, a phenomenon that is reversed in the winter to similar effect. The house also has an integrated hydronic HVAC system to aid in energy efficiency.
The thick green roof above acts as an extra layer of insulation, retaining heat in winter and blocking directs sun in the summer, while also absorbing rainwater to replenish the damaged soil. Bercy Chen worked with Avant Guardist Specialty Fabrication to create the planted-roof system, which includes a water-barrier membrane to protect the rest of the home from water damage.
The roof can support a wide range of plant species, but is geared toward native flowers and grasses that are adapted to the Texas weather patterns. For this project, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center collaborated with Bercy Chen to reintroduce more than 40 native species of plants and wildflowers on the site in an effort to ameliorate the local ecosystem.
While one side of the house looks like an unbroken grassy hill, the rest opens up to an angular modernist backyard patio, with floor-to-ceiling glass walls that let in ample natural daylight through the rest of the house. The pointed triangular forms, including an open-air pool, act as a sunken passageway that connects visitors to the manmade and natural worlds.