For those who haven’t heard ... developer/builder Michael McDonald and his wife Dr. Jill Martenson have decided to sell their 4,600-sq.-ft. LEED-H Platinum home, Margarido House at 5950 Margarido Drive in North Oakland. And, lucky for me, there was an open house last Thursday night to check it out!
Now you know I could go on and on about the home’s energy-savvy features -- such as its passive geothermal system and in-floor radiant heating -- calculating how much energy, money and water the owners have saved, but you could probably Google that sort of info. Instead I’d like to rave about the features.
The L-shaped, split level Margarido House and its sustainable design does more than just conserve energy at the end of the month; by its very nature it sits lightly, elegantly and proudly on its steep Upper Rockridge site that had been ravaged by the 1991 fires.
Features to Drool Over
This house respects its place with native, drought-tolerant plants that don’t need more water than our climate can give. It allows rain to flow down to the earth quickly and cleanly through passageways in the permeable drive and walkways. Its fifth facade, usually unkempt and rarely thought about, in this case gives back some of the land that the house’s design has claimed by providing habitat to the birds and bees via its rooftop garden. The design also works with the sun by allowing just the right amount of light to penetrate windows to warm floors while its eaves jet out and protect inhabitants from the harsh heat of the mid-summer sun.
And, finally, the house opens wide to allow a seamless transition between the outdoors and indoors -- inhaling cool gusts of night air and exhaling the heat that has been stored upstairs throughout the day to bring the internal temperature down markedly.
At the end of the night, the house’s modest concrete walls still slowly radiate from the heat of the day, holding the building materials and their “stories of the past,” such as the coal-combustion process that is contained within the fly ash in the walls. The house takes those stories and gracefully holds them close; its inspired facade not ever letting on that it contains such dirty secrets.
The Margarido House has found a way to thrive within our system as a living, breathing element and, in my opinion, has done so quite beautifully.