AIA Architecture for Sustainability Competition, Water Wall House


The Water Wall House was a winning submission for the 2006 Architecture for Sustainability Competition sponsored by the AIA Committee on Design (CoD) and Committee on the Environment (COTE). As a best-practice example of high-performance, sustainable design, Water Wall House integrates user needs, specifics of place, and strategic technologies to form a new entity that is more than the sum of its parts. Like a molecule of water, the house is a transformation of its atomic ingredients.

Through an innovative use of environmental technology, the exterior envelope shelters the interior from dramatic shifts in outdoor temperature while creating transparency between the interior and the outdoors. South-facing, water-core, Trombe walls integrate structural laminated veneer lumber wood framing, transparent containers of water, straw bale insulation and a layer of thermal glazing that provide a temperate anchor for the interior and a structural anchor for the cantilever. The "water wall" allows the house to open outward, forming a "window on the landscape" that expresses the design intent to allow occupants to contemplate their relationship with the natural environment and embodies the idea of making a connection to the landscape through form.


Shepley Bulfinch Team

Andre Kamili
Cindy Lee
Jesse Taylor



  • One of three winning entries, Architecture for Sustainability competition, AIA Committee on Design and Committee on the Environment (COTE), 2006

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"This project is intriguing because it merged technology with aesthetics in a compelling and interesting way and also was a modest interpretation of the program. It is quite a beautiful and somewhat soft building that sits nicely in the landscape."
- Competition juror

"The house is the result of integrating and transforming its constituent elements: a dwelling that grows out of its site, floats among the trees and soars to the sky. We simply created a house that we would want to live in."
- The designers

©2017 Shepley Bulfinch