Noel Cross+Architects
Architects & Building Designers
Villa Terra mediterranean

Villa Terra


1. Rammed Earth and PISE Walls
Beyond it’s beautiful qualities and “Old World” look, the rammed earth and PISE walls (pneumatically impacted stabilized earth) drastically reduce the use of trees for the initial wall framing lumber. And because this “Earth Structure” will far outlast any wood frame building, trees are again saved many times over, creating the foundation for the true model of sustainability. We have created a house that will essentially last forever, instead of having to be rebuilt every 50 to 75 years.

The 18” thick PISE walls and concrete floors also provide thermal mass, an integral part of the passive solar design of the house. These features help keep the house naturally cooler in summer and retaining heat in winter, greatly reducing the heating and cooling loads and energy use.

2. High Content Fly Ash Concrete Foundation
Use of high content (25%) fly ash (industrial waste byproduct) in place of Portland Cement results in reduction of energy consumption and green house gas emissions associated with Portland cement production (second only to petroleum in terms of carbon dioxide emissions).

3. Reclaimed Plumbing Fixtures
All lavatory sinks and tubs were bought from salvage yards (tub is reportedly from the Jack Benny house in Hollywood). Reclaimed Carrara marble fountain has been made into the powder room sink.

4. Natural Daylighting
Use of numerous skylights and high transom windows to reduce electrical lighting loads during the day. Natural daylighting also has documented benefits on mood, productivity, and enjoyment of the space.

5. Photo Voltaic Solar Panels
Use of PV solar electric generation system to reduce electrical grid consumption, and bi-directional meter sends power back to the grid when it is needed most, on hot summer afternoons.

6. Hydronic Radiant Heat Floor
Use of hydronic radiant floor heating system saves energy, is more efficient for residential heating, is more comfortable for inhabitants, and promotes superior indoor air quality over forced air systems.

7. Natural/Passive Ventilation
Use of operable skylights operable high windows and ceiling fans, creates a natural convection current, thereby eliminating the need for an air conditioning system.

8. Passive Solar Design
Use of extensive east and south facing glass, proper overhangs, high interior mass, deciduous grape vines on appropriately placed trellises, to passively heat the home in winter, and protect the house from unnecessary heat gain in summer.

9. Reclaimed Lumber
- Douglas fir ceiling beams reclaimed from the Town & Country Village Shopping Center (now Santana Row) in San Jose.
- Douglas fir ceiling decking reclaimed from the 118 year old Notre Dame High School in downtown San Jose. TJI joists reclaimed from the “Millenium Man” movie set in Alameda used for floor and roof framing. Redwood ceiling beams reclaimed from a Los Altos cabana/trellis.

10. Extensive Use of Other Reclaimed Materials Two antique reclaimed European stone fireplace mantles grace the family room and master bedroom fireplaces. Interior doors with glass knobs reclaimed from the original house located at the property. Two large terraces utilize used brick salvaged from at least 15 different locations. Courtyard fountain is tiled using recycled and restored ceramic tiles from a 1928 California Colonial house in Los Altos. Cabinet lumber from original house used for closet shelving. Plywood from crates that the windows and doors were delivered in were used to create garage shear walls. Foundation forms were salvaged and rip cut for use as interior stud walls. Garage doors were salvaged from a remodel project in Mountain View.

11. Ground Source Heat Pump
- Ground source heat pump uses geothermal energy to heat the house and domestic water, greatly reducing natural gas and fossil fuel consumption.

12. Low VOC Paint
Clay Plaster Wall Finishes VOC-free interior paint and stain finishes promotes healthy indoor air quality, reduces exacerbation of respiratory ailments such as asthma and lung cancer. Extensive use of American Clay Plaster integral color wall finish eliminates need for painted walls.

13. High Efficiency Windows
Use of energy efficient dual pane thermal glazing with “Low e” coating at all doors and windows reduces heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter, cutting energy use.

14. Engineered Structural Lumber
Extensive use of engineered lumber for structural framing and sheathing reduces cutting of old growth forests, and encourages use of “crop lumber”.

15. FSC Certified Mill Work
Extensive use of FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified sustainable lumber products for cabinetry, hardwood flooring, trim, etc. further protects the environment through third party monitoring and certification of the entire supply chain.

16. Cotton Insulation
Formaldehyde-free cotton insulation made from recycled blue jeans used extensively for attic insulation.

photography by Frank Paul Perez

What Houzz contributors are saying:

Bud Dietrich, AIA added this to Architect's Toolbox: Solar-Powered Design
Though we sometimes think a home on the cutting edge of design and technology will look like something from the Jetsons, it certainly doesn't have to. This home offers more proof that an energy-efficient and sustainable home can be built in any style and in any location. They just need to be smartly designed to suit their context and their owner's preferences.This home's traditional design fits seamlessly within its context, while incorporating straw-bale construction (a great insulator and sustainable system), passive cooling and more.

What Houzzers are commenting on:

debrabashaw added this to debrabashaw's Ideas
March 18, 2015
mizsak added this to Straw Bale House
March 15, 2015
Classic European Design
wtunstall added this to wtunstall's Ideas
March 8, 2015
gabrielapaoletti added this to gabrielapaoletti's ideas
January 7, 2015
Amilyn Willis added this to Cob and Natural Homes
January 2, 2015
Look the villa look. Awesome that it is strawbale built.
mbobb2012 added this to Future eco home
December 12, 2014
that it is strawbale and looks like stickframe building
Natya Tamarina added this to Saraswati 2
November 27, 2014
Earth spanish acian
adonelly added this to adonelly's Ideas
September 6, 2014
Rammed earth
didianne added this to Architecture
September 5, 2014
Villa Terra Noel Cross+Architects
todrap added this to todrap's ideas
September 1, 2014
This architecture
rmflynn added this to rmflynn's ideas
June 12, 2014
trellises and railings
risris added this to Axis House
April 29, 2014
"This home's traditional design fits seamlessly within its context, while incorporating straw-bale construction (a great insulator and sustainable system), passive cooling and more."
sdimaria added this to Sicily
April 27, 2014
Exterior colour
voltaire49 added this to voltaire49's Ideas
April 19, 2014
2ème vue sur petit château.
pnagula added this to out side
April 14, 2014
hyd house
Jay added this to Spanish 3.19.14
March 23, 2014
Irina Nicola added this to irina_nicola's Ideas
March 23, 2014
Amelia B. Lima & Associates added this to FOUNTAIN FOR DEBRA
March 22, 2014
simple arch
Smitty Smithsonian added this to Villa Exterior
February 27, 2014
Straw bale construction and color scheme
Luminoso Design added this to Exteriors
February 13, 2014
perfect! love the balconies.
monardafarms added this to monardafarms's Ideas
February 11, 2014
Walled garden
jennib03 added this to Sustainable building techniques
January 29, 2014
12 green points in a beautiful package
tweetypie143 added this to tweetypie143's Ideas
December 28, 2013
Loved the villa look
vflores added this to vflores's ideas
December 19, 2013
geezerandco added this to geezerandco's ideas
December 18, 2013
sugar6sugar6 added this to sugar6sugar6's Ideas
December 1, 2013
Rammed earth house
khalidmehmood added this to Exterior Ideas
September 24, 2013
shed & plants pull over
zoni36 added this to zoni36's ideas
September 11, 2013
rammed earth walls and pise wslls
tfiske added this to tfiske's Ideas
September 4, 2013
Tuscan house
aktalbot added this to strawbale design
August 12, 2013
curved windows above rectangular windows. window spacing.
130175 added this to 130175's ideas
August 4, 2013
tatumsteve7 added this to tatumsteve7's ideas
August 4, 2013
rammed earth5
cargorunner added this to Outdoor dining
July 17, 2013
Grape vine
Dominique Celeste added this to Ground Up
July 12, 2013
PISE Rammed Earth Mediterranean
walshdesignworks added this to walshdesignworks's ideas
June 12, 2013
straw bale
pferdfarm added this to Mediterranean House
June 12, 2013
Color, window shutters
bj1227 added this to Exterior Reno
June 12, 2013
pppppppp added this to Green
May 22, 2013
Rammed eArth house
camdenhicks added this to SOCKOL exterior
May 15, 2013
Vines on trellis
aballin101 added this to home
May 14, 2013
Make white walls
4iwilllive added this to 4iwilllive's Ideas
May 13, 2013
younglane added this to winter sun
May 11, 2013
metal arch pergolas
lakadamyali added this to lakadamyali's Ideas
May 1, 2013
Asma talvarı
robnorment added this to robnorment's ideas
April 5, 2013
house paint colors; arbor
allenscotty added this to allenscotty's ideas
February 26, 2013
yousafzai added this to interior designs
February 17, 2013
simple effective pargola
abcgang added this to balcony-master
February 13, 2013
add light to both sides of doors.
terry75 added this to terry75's ideas
February 2, 2013
Geamuri parter/ geamuri etaj
Kelly Larson added this to kelly_larson's ideas
January 20, 2013
straw bale Italy look
aw built added this to adambwalters's ideas
January 6, 2013
iron around doors and for windows
permaculture added this to Exterior Style
January 6, 2013
Rammed Earth house
stevecaruthers added this to stevecaruthers's ideas
October 17, 2012
iron canopy
paran added this to paran's Ideas
October 16, 2012
Sean Carter added this to Bahia city homes
September 30, 2012
like the balcony
lztotoro added this to lztotoro's ideas
August 29, 2012
out side shutters
dryser007 added this to dryser007's ideas
August 25, 2012
Trim on windows
rotemli added this to rotemli's ideas
August 23, 2012
חזית עם חלונות מרובעים וגדולים למטה וחלונות גדולים עם מרפסות קטנות למעלה
livesis added this to livesis's Ideas
August 20, 2012
Colore casa
pierremalan added this to pierremalan's Favorites
August 9, 2012
Klein mooi italiaans
Kathi Sprau added this to katia57's ideas
August 8, 2012
Built with the Straw bale system!!!
bgailleech added this to bgaleleech's ideas
July 17, 2012
Paint color
malatorre added this to malatorre's ideas
July 10, 2012
Love volor
bconnor added this to exterior details IDEAS
July 9, 2012
Can we do any traditional Tucscan colors?
603forestview added this to voyzey's favorites
July 5, 2012
djcwilt added this to djcwilt's ideas
June 23, 2012
Love this house!
jenimweston added this to Frobase
June 14, 2012
roof pitch.
good4u added this to good4u's ideas
June 5, 2012
beautiful home
patsmith added this to patsmith's ideas
June 3, 2012
I am sold on this type of home very Mediterranean or French...Just love European homes styles even Mission Spanish style.
bubba64 added this to bubba64's ideas
May 26, 2012
OOOO strawbale
davlana added this to davlana's ideas
May 18, 2012
tuscany villa
Crystal Stephen added this to crystal_stephen's ideas
April 27, 2012
mjwillia509 added this to mjwillia509's Favorites
March 24, 2012
Straw bale?
xanasabirin added this to xanasabirin's ideas
March 2, 2012
the windows
toda famila libert added this to casadopapi's ideas
November 24, 2011
casa boa pro Villaggio di Roma...
Casa Farms added this to 18farmhouse's ideas
November 18, 2011
another example of stucco-d window edging
frankie_1 added this to frankie_1's Favorites
November 13, 2011
rolly added this to window seats
November 2, 2011
window's iron
arm57 added this to arm57's ideas
November 1, 2011
rammed earth and pise walls (pneumatically impacted stabilized earth)
cynshimura added this to cynshimura's Favorites
October 31, 2011
cor de parede mediterraneo
johnadams added this to johnadams's ideas
October 31, 2011
boradevic added this to boradevic's ideas
October 31, 2011
za mandicevu vinariju
ednjean added this to ednjean's ideas
October 30, 2011
The house color, window and door treatment and block ornamental black iron on trellis and balcony.
aking47 added this to aking47's Favorites
October 30, 2011
arbor for energy efficiency
vitaly added this to Gargen
October 30, 2011
marydampier added this to marydampier's ideas
October 30, 2011
mgorman2 added this to mgorman2's Favorites
October 24, 2011
Arbor tie in to house
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