California’s wildfires destroy thousands of homes per year. The Thomas fire destroyed 7,200 structures and 318,000 acres on its own. Wooden structures are at risk of total loss from fires, and thousands of families are quickly displaced following a fire.
Faulkner Architects introduces the Campout House to help solve the threat that fires pose to homeowners.
The house, located in Truckee, sits on sloping land and is owned by a tech CEO. He wanted to build a retreat for his family when they escape the hustle and bustle of San Francisco. Surrounded by pine trees and a distant view of the Sierra Nevada range, the home is picturesque.
Truckee California fires are not as common as in other areas, but the risk of fires in the area is expected to remain moderate over the next thirty years. Yet, the CEO wanted the architect to be cautious of the rising wildfire threats that plague the state more each year.
Fires in 2021 came within 25 miles of the Campout house and destroyed over 1,000 homes in the area.
Faulkner agrees that the risk of climate change and record temperatures will only increase the need for housing that can withstand fires. Architects must redefine the way that modern homes are built to resist natural disasters.
The solution? The Campout House…
Campout House is luxurious, with high-end features and a storybook view, but the construction goes well beyond aesthetics. The home features:
- Non-combustible materials that will protect the home in a wildfire
- Exterior walls made of concrete
- 16-gauge steel weathering to further reinforce the home
The structural frame of the home uses both steel and engineered wood, which are both protected by thick concrete exterior walls.
With spectacular views of the mountains, the homeowners wanted to have precision window placements that allowed them to bring the outdoors indoors, yet they didn’t want to see their neighbors’ homes.
A central courtyard can be accessed from inside the home and makes use of massive walled windows that the owners can open to enjoy views of the towering pine trees in the distance. The owners, who are known for being adventurous and enjoying time outdoors, use the courtyard for entertaining or lighting a fire in the fire pit and looking out at the night sky.
The home is a sprawling 3,800-square-foot masterpiece with:
- The southeast side of the building backing into the hillside
- The north part of the home connecting to a cabin
Large floor-to-ceiling windows are strategically placed in the courtyard to allow for natural light to flow in but to be safe enough to connect to the interior of the home.
Each room in the Campout House enjoys a rustic feel, with the perfect separation of professional and personal space. An open concept in the living room, dining room and kitchen allows natural light to flow throughout the home.
The home also features:
- Master bedroom
- Guest room
- Media room
Structurally, the Campout House takes a wildfire-safety approach to construction with:
- Wood frame assembly that has a fire-rated barrier and weathering steel to resist fires
- 1/2″ plate steel on the main roof
- Secondary roof with a membrane that is fire-rated
- Tempered glazing windows that can withstand 1500-degree temperatures
- Broke steel sash window systems
The home is designed to prevent the spread of flames and has a zero-maintenance exterior. Two 8” walls with insulation between them make up the home’s exterior. Around 40% of the perimeter is sheltered by earth, further protecting the home from fire damage.
Rainwater is captured and stored in a natural aquifer. Even the landscaping was put into the overall plan and consists of trees that can withstand a two-year drought.
Passive strategies are employed in many areas of the home, including:
- Energy-efficient radiant flooring in the home
- Interior filtration systems to protect home occupants even during periods of smoke
- Natural shade from the nearby trees and mountain
- Mass closed cell foam insulates the home
Campout House demonstrates the future of high-end home building in an area where wildfires have ravaged nearby communities. The home is a stunning example of concrete homes with the addition of well-planned site work to fill the aquifer, keep the surrounding landscape alive even in droughts and high-end efficiency, which is crucial because of the months of snowfall on the ground.