how it all started
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Michelle Kaufmann and Kevin Cullen designed in 2002 as their personal home. Light, simplicity, and sustainability – these are the inspiration for the Glidehouse™ home design. In 2002, when my husband, Kevin Cullen, and I were looking for an affordable home to buy in the San Francisco Bay region, we were frustrated by the lack […]
Michelle Kaufmann and Kevin Cullen designed in 2002 as their personal home.
Light, simplicity, and sustainability – these are the inspiration for the Glidehouse™ home design. In 2002, when my husband, Kevin Cullen, and I were looking for an affordable home to buy in the San Francisco Bay region, we were frustrated by the lack of options. From this challenge, however, came Kaufmann’s determination to create an alternative, and the Glidehouse was born.
This first, imaginative venture into green modular housing is a beautiful, energy-efficient home created from sustainable, prefabricated materials. Its name, Glidehouse, comes from the unique sliding glass and wooden doors placed throughout the home; the doors open to the outside and also conceal storage areas. Light streams through well-placed windows and outdoor spaces fit artfully around the house’s modular form.
The Glidehouse is modular, but it is also flexible. Recognizing that different people have different needs for their homes, we came up with designs ranging from a small cottage to a four-bedroom model. One of the keys to creating the ideal home is to select the design that best suits the clients’ personalities.
But flexibility and sustainability are only part of the spirit of this home. The design of the Glidehouse is intended not only to please the eye, but the soul. How it looks matters less than how it makes you feel when you are inside.
The first Glidehouse was our own residence. Since we wanted an affordable home, we knew that much of the challenge in designing the Glidehouse would be making it “feel” big even though the square footage was modest. We created models to study light and window placement. Recognizing that smart design choices can drastically reduce homeowner’s reliance on energy-demanding air-conditioning systems, I studied prevailing breeze patterns. My own negative experience with unhealthy indoor air in a rental home convinced Kaufmann that the design of the Glidehouse should prevent unhealthy mold and moisture accumulation. The home’s foam cell insulation and green materials ensure a healthy, clean indoor environment.
The interior of the Glidehouse embraces form, function, and aesthetics. Light-colored, rapidly-renewable bamboo flooring and an elegant open floor plan make the home appear spacious. A stepped kitchen island screens clutter without closing off the space to other rooms. One of the more notable features of the home is an FSC-certified wooden storage bar that stretches along an entire wall of the living room space. The wooden bar, with its sliding doors, not only offers considerable storage options, but it is also easily customized. It can be designed to accommodate collections of books, artwork, or any number of other objects. This allows the living space to remain open and uncluttered, adding to the spacious feeling of the Glidehouse.
Most importantly for Kevin and I, who are committed to sustainable living, the Glidehouse was designed to have as little impact as possible on the environment. The dual-pane glass windows and doors placed throughout the home maximize cross-ventilation and natural lighting while minimizing the need for artificial lighting and climate control. The main living space features a long wall made of sliding glass that, when open, allows natural light and air to flow through the home, reducing dependence on central air-conditioning. Ample kitchen windows bathe surfaces with natural light, and strategically-placed skylights and windows offer privacy and light in bathrooms. Bedrooms in the Glidehouse feature clerestory windows and sliding glass doors to further promote natural lighting and ventilation, as do exterior gliding wood sunshades.
The sloped roof of the Glidehouse encourages hot air to move upwards and quickly out of the house, and it is designed to accommodate the placement of solar panels. LED and fluorescent lighting as well as Energy Star appliances all promote energy sustainability. The sliding doors and wood screens further extend the home’s usable space by opening on to generous decks and a stunning view.
The merging of sustainability and beauty is best observed in the exterior of the Glidehouse. Here, long-lasting, low-maintenance materials such as cor-ten steel provide warmth and allow the home to nestle unobtrusively into its hillside lot. Unlike the cold, harsh image that “steel” conjures in most people’s minds, cor-ten steel is almost velvet-like in its appearance and texture, a tactile material reminiscent of the beautiful rusted steel structures of my childhood in Iowa.
The design of this home was purchased by another company and is not for sale by MKS.