BOULDER ARCHITECT HELPS CLIENTS ACHIEVE THE BALANCE BETWEEN BUILDING BEAUTIFUL AND BUILDING GREEN
Boulder, Colorado – (July 19, 2006) – Success in building green, says architect Dominique Gettliffe, involves more than mastering sustainable technology. It depends on discovering how our lifestyles and the buildings we occupy can work together for the sake of a healthier environment. A passive solar home is good for the environment, but it’s even better if the owner isn’t commuting 2 hours per day in an SUV. At the same time, a building’s green elements should be well integrated as part of the design and enhance the lives of its inhabitants. “If we want green architecture to become widely accepted, we have to ensure it is not to the detriment of the livability of a building,” says Gettliffe.
In 1982 Gettliffe came to Colorado from Paris with the express mission of designing passive solar structures. In 1984 he started his own architecture firm in order to prioritize designs that conserve energy and limit environmental impact. Gettliffe Architecture is based in Boulder, Colorado.
Building green, as with living green, explains Gettliffe, is comprehensive and cannot be reduced to a single strategy. He emphasizes that it involves thoughtful consideration and integration of numerous options. On the other hand, a green building’s design also must be enjoyable to experience. “Architecture is complex, and you cannot go 100 percent in any one direction and neglect other aspects,” says Gettliffe. He cites the importance of balancing how green a structure is with how well it is built, how livable it is, and how well it functions for the people in and around it.
Jane Twigg and Douglas Carroll, who moved into their new Boulder home, designed by Gettliffe, in March 2006, agree. Says Ms. Twigg, “I feel good that we’re living as green as we can be and having less impact on the environment. Also, the neighbors like our house. They appreciate that we haven’t filled the entire lot with house. It fits right into the neighborhood.”
Ms. Twigg names features that make their home green: 2-inch-by-6-inch blown cellulose insulation made from recycled newsprint (rather than fiberglass) and large, south-facing windows that admit the sun, which is absorbed by the mass of a concrete floor. The floor, in turn, retains heat to warm the house.
Ms. Twigg comments on the design, “I like things opened up. It’s for my spirit. It’s an expansive kind of place.” The new Twigg-Carroll home is 1,700 square feet.
According to Gettliffe, building green includes considering the amount of material that goes into a structure, as well as its energy requirements. “A 2,000-square-foot family home is greener than a 4,000-square-foot home for only two people,” he says. “But you can still have a spacious home with less square footage by putting more design into each square foot.”
Gettliffe achieves a feeling of spaciousness in his designs by emphasizing diagonals in a given floor plan. He also uses strategic placement of windows to create a sense of expansiveness, he explains, because the eye naturally moves toward light and through a window to the outdoors, transcending a home’s physical boundary. He references the view to the outdoors across the 12- by 20-foot living room and through the sun space of his own home. “Sometimes I think, wow, this house is pretty big.” Gettliffe’s Boulder home is 1,500 square feet. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the American single-family home now averages 2,349 square feet, up from 1,500 square feet 26 years ago.
John Solvay, for whom Gettliffe has designed commercial and residential spaces, including a mixed-use heliport near Eugene, Oregon, and, most recently, a spiritual retreat in Crestone, Colorado, says he and his family of five are committed to living green and living in a space that nurtures the spirit.
“The details of a project must be thought through thoroughly,” says Mr. Solvay. “Dominique understands it is about organizing a space to make it a livable space.” He continues, “What you want in a house is a certain ease that expresses itself. He captures that. He captures and organizes a space in relation to its surroundings.”
The heliport and projects from Gettliffe Architecture’s portfolio are at www.gettliffe.com. Gettliffe Architecture is at 3014 Bluff St., Unit 101, Boulder. The phone number is (303) 449.9155.