Nicasio, CA

Artisan Builders burk2completed an unusual passive solar house designed by Inverness architectural firm, Alex Riley Associates. Our clients chose a house of concrete, which has provided for a beautiful and enduring structure. The home is entirely powered by a photovoltaic solar system with backup generator. Special features include a mushroom-shaped eave and parapet detail. The house curves around a south-facing courtyard with the roof pitched up to the south for passive solar heating in the winter months.


This creates a patio area protected from the strong northerly winds on the exposed ridge-top site. Generous window and door openings reveal a 300-degree panoramic view of the West Marin wilderness. The home blends smoothly into the landscape. The unique wall system uses a rebar cage with polystyrene insulation acting as a form for the gunite, which was sprayed in place. Many of the interior concrete walls are partial height, curved and sloped, reflecting the contours of the exterior landscape.

The concrete floors with encased radiant heat were troweled smooth and then washed with an acid dye, resulting in beautiful colors and textures. Concrete is even used for the kitchen counters. All of the doors, trim and cabinetry were made from old-growth recycled redwood. We are proud to have been involved in such an unusual construction effort. It is an extraordinary residence, both in form and function.

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