Launch Slideshow

RainShine House

RainShine House

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    Paul Hultberg Photography

    Grand Award - Custom Home / Less Than 3,000 Square Feet
    RainShine House, Decatur, Ga.
    Robert M. Cain, Architect, Atlanta

    With its symmetrical facade and a front setback matching that of surrounding houses, this modernist composition fits comfortably among its more traditional neighbors. This LEED Platinum–certified house puts a check in every column: passive solar, active solar, rainwater collection, natural daylighting and ventilation, energy-efficient electrical and mechanical systems, resource-conserving materials, a tight building envelope, low-VOC finishes, and no-irrigation landscaping.

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    Paul Hultberg Photography

    A center-sloping butterfly roof facilitates rainwater catchment while serving as a mounting platform for the house's photovoltaic array.

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    Paul Hultberg Photography

    The steel structural frame allows an open interior for natural light and ventilation.

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    Paul Hultberg Photography

    The kitchen cabinets are zero-VOC MDF made from recycled wood. Counters are recycled glass in a high-fly ash matrix.

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    Paul Hultberg Photography

    The roof tops a continuous glazed clerestory.

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    Paul Hultberg Photography

    The master bedroom opens onto a large covered deck.

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    Paul Hultberg Photography

    The dining area. Wood flooring throughout the house is locally salvaged heart pine.

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    Courtesy Robert M. Cain

    The first floor plan and section through the master bedroom wing.

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    Courtesy Robert M. Cain

    The second floor plan and section through the main wing.

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    Courtesy Robert M. Cain

    Building sections showing heat, ventilation, and rainwater collection.

As an exercise in green design, this LEED Platinum–certified house puts a check in every column: passive solar, active solar, rainwater collection, natural daylighting and ventilation, energy-efficient electrical and mechanical systems, resource-conserving materials, a tight building envelope, low-VOC finishes, and no-irrigation landscaping. What got the attention of our judges, though, was that its environmental ethos also yields a thoroughly pleasing aesthetic experience.

Traditional styles can accommodate a green program, architect Robert M. Cain explains, “but modernism is much more adaptable to the principles of sustainable design.” The thin butterfly roof, which floats above a continuous glass clerestory and an artfully expressed steel structural frame, also offers the ideal vessel for rainwater collection and a discreet mounting platform for solar panels. But the house also acknowledges its more traditional neighbors in the symmetry of its façade. Our judges noted that the house balances abstract gestures with “the use of more traditional siding and the more traditional gray color.” One judge summed up the consensus of the panel by calling the result “a great combination of design with eco-features.”

Entrant/Architect/Interior designer:Robert M. Cain, Architect, Atlanta
Builder:Pinnacle Custom Builders, Decatur, Ga.
Landscape architect: L.F. Saussy Landscape Architects, Decatur
Living space: 2,800 square feet
Site: 0.36 acre
Construction cost: Withheld
Photographer: Paul Hultberg Photography