House 7 was designed not only to shelter a family, but to engage them in a daily, dynamic play between their house and the elements–––sun, rain, clouds, heat, and coolness are collected, conserved, then repurposed, to invite reflection and connection to the weather and to reap environmental benefits as well. A celadon-colored, sculpted geological wall at the front entry weeps water like a natural rock face. The pleated, butterfly roof feeds rainwater to both a rusted, plate-steel corner drain at the office; and, at the rear, an “erosion time-lapse wall”. The deliberately weakened concrete mix in this wall is designed to slowly wear over time and reveal sculptural objects placed within concrete wall-forms by the designer and the owner. These rainwater/art installations were designed with sight, sound and conservation (cisterns) in mind. Insulated 15” concrete walls, minimize heating/cooling needs. Walls are clad with reclaimed redwood felled over 100 years ago. Winter sun heats a passive solar concrete wall. Photovoltaic roof panels cover 60% of the roof. In the second floor hallway, a peaked ceiling is angled for maximum hydronic solar gain and skylights illuminate steel “tendons” expressing the structural tension of the winged roof and the lightness of the vaulted space. Conceptualized as a “small village,” where dwellings of multiple size and scale support and harmonize one another, House 7 unifies aesthetic and kinetic experiences. The interconnectedness and the lively relationship with natural elements contribute to a daily sense of warmth and human scale. All finished concrete crafted throughout House 7 (geological walls, cantilevered treads, inlays, etc) was hands-on work by the designer working on site with the contractor. Between the deliberate, disciplined planning inherent in architecture; the extemporaneous opportunities of the moment during construction; and the relentless force of Nature’s elements––House 7 achieved an artful, unified, hopefully, timeless balance.
Fu-Tung Cheng is the founder of CHENG Design, the acclaimed Berkeley, CA-based design firm specializing in custom home, specialty commercial and product design. He is a designer, best-selling author, and speaker, known internationally for his sophisticated design and innovative use of materials in the home. Fu-Tungâ€™s team includes architects, designers, and a fabrication crew. Their work embodies elements of Nature, organic textures, color, and materials, composed with a timeless, contemporary aesthetic. The firm's unique makeup and approach to design make for a rare blend of creativity with an unwavering eye to detail and quality craftsmanship.