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Copper-clad Fall House goes green ... literally


May 4, 2014

The Fall House, by Fougeron Architecture (Photo: Joe Fletcher Photography)

The Fall House, by Fougeron Architecture (Photo: Joe Fletcher Photography)

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San-Francisco-based Fougeron Architecture recently completed an unusual – and frankly very appealing – luxury home that's located along California's Big Sur coastline. Dubbed Fall House, the residence in question features a significant amount of sustainable technology and an enviable view of the Pacific Ocean, but the highlight is a roof and facade made from copper, which will slowly weather as it comes into contact with the sea air.

The two-storey Fall House measures a total of 353 sq m (3,800 sq ft). This includes three bedrooms, a bathroom, and an open plan lounge, kitchen, and dining room. The overall form of the house comprises two rectangular volumes which follow the sloping ground closely, and are joined together by a large glass library in the middle.

Naturally, the copper facade grabs one's attention, but Fall House actually sports two facades. The south-facing facade, which comes into contact with the brunt of the Pacific Ocean's wind and water spray, is indeed clad in copper, and it sports overhangs which offer protection from the weather and limit the effects of solar heat gain. The north-facing facade, meanwhile, is wholly glass and maximizes the available view.

Though not unheard of, the use of so much copper is relatively unusual on a modern build. Fougeron Architecture tells us that the choice of copper derives both from its general durability, and the fact that it is non-combustable (the house is located in a severe fire zone). That the copper will weather and enable the house to blend into its surroundings even more fully as it ages doesn't hurt, either.

Efficient "Low-E" windows were installed in the house, as was underfloor radiant hydronic heating and formaldehyde-free denim – a non-harmful insulation material. Fall House's largely open design encourages stack ventilation, but this process is enhanced thanks to automatically opening windows which draw in cool air from the lower levels of the home. The opening windows work in tandem with an exhaust transfer grille toward the top of the home which expels the hot air that's drawn up.

Fougeron Architecture also added drought-resistant native vegetation to reduce soil erosion and aid local wildlife, and a small section of green roof benefits insulation. The house sports a greywater system, and there's also a handy nearby stream that complements the on-grid supply of water.

Source: Fougeron Architecture via Arch Daily

About the Author
Adam Williams Adam scours the globe from his home in North Wales in order to bring the best of innovative architecture and sustainable design to the pages of Gizmag. Most of his spare time is spent dabbling in music, tinkering with old Macintosh computers and trying to keep his even older VW bus on the road. All articles by Adam Williams

Expensive up front but eventually it should be cheaper than something that requires maintenance.


Hope they know that the runoff water from the copper during rains n so isn't Eco friendly. But besides that very cool house. Eco friendly is always good.

Toffe Kaal

I have seen a copper clad building recently built near me. It is certainly eye-catching because of its shiny copper color, but the gloss shows every undulation of the surface, which isn't that flattering.

Of course, after a few years, the surface will oxidize and become a mat finish, which would certainly be better aesthetically. One has to wonder where copper-clad walls are in terms of cost with other exterior envelopes.

Toffe above makes a good point about the green copper oxide that stains whatever it is running off to.


Impressive. But with only one bathroom in 3,800 sq. ft. ?

Gerald Martin

Ha, just mixing and pouring the concrete alone produced tons of CO2. Then there is the mining of the copper and all of the other materials.

Point being is that large houses are always non-eco friendly as they use far more resources and produce far more waste in production then modest houses. Want to produce a "eco friendly" house? Build a very small house that meets the needs per the number of household.

Rann Xeroxx

Only in California! In Monterey County you may obtain a building permit to build a copper-clad house while the California Water Board is attempting to ban even trace elements of copper from boat bottom paint. A single copper-Clad house near the ocean will leach off more copper than a marina full of pleasure boats. Of course trace elements of copper pose no harm to the environment, in fact it controls dangerous pathogens, like e-coli. I love that house.


I am a firm believer in a bath for each bedroom. That is a priority for me. It seems like common sense unless building a low-income house.

As for concrete usage, rammed earth solves that eco concern.

All zero IR windows + passive solar design should eliminate cooling need.

Don Duncan

I don't know about California, but in the UK if you had a copper clad house you would be frightened to go on holiday, in that the copper could have been stolen by the time you get back. Copper theft is a huge issue now that it is worth about 10x more than a decade ago.


I think that the effect is stunning inside and out, no doubt it is not perfect but to look at it is really something, and the interior décor is just right. One bathroom would be a problem through and it would not work universally, but stunning all the same.


Ha! Wait till the illegals find this house...they will strip it of all copper and sell it to a metal recycler. I'm a bit surprised it's stood for this long...I guess it's too far away from bus routes and broken down Honda's to get to the house. Wait until one fixes up an F150...then this house will be stripped in an afternoon!


I think everybody can relax, after carefully scanning the drawings I do get the impression that there is more than one bathroom on site.

What does bother me though is the potential of the library to become an oven. Hopefully there is a retractable awning not being shown or mentioned, with which the books and occupants will be protected from those all powerful sun rays.

But it is a lovely house. Riaanh
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