Sausalito’s First Rainwater Harvester Gets a Workout
450 Architects built the first house to be approved for rainwater harvesting in California’s San Francisco Bay Area – in Sausalito, in 2005.
The house faces back towards the East Bay, and it gets the morning sun on its steeply sloped site in Sausalito, within walking distance of the small and charming – but now deeply touristy main street.
The entire back of the house opens up to an Easterly view of the San Francisco Bay, coloring it a deep turquoise.
On the entrance side, the house exhibits the bohemian simplicity historically typical of the town.
Sausalito was settled in successive waves with simple shacks thrown together by the avante garde fleeing San Francisco from the 1900s through the 1930s and 40s, followed by the beatniks in the 50s, and the hippies in the 60’s, who all built their own unconventional and arty houses in the beautiful and then economical building spot, as a respite from city life.
But by the 70s, the town became impossibly expensive, and today’s avant garde of San Francisco are nowhere close to being able to afford it.
Now, it is a town for the rich, but at its best, it still maintains that bohemian frontier feeling. This house finds that perfect balance.
One planning commissioner described the house as “a jewel box … one of the best gifts to Sausalito that I have seen in my five years on the Commission.”
Inside, there is a feeling of light and openness. The warm and modern details, elegant and simple, create the feeling of a very meditative home, that make a historical reference to the town’s bohemian roots.
With its clean lines and the combination of light and dark woods, the house is modern, warm, and zen. It is sensitive to its neighborhood, and responsive to its site.
The home featured the first rainwater harvesting system approved for residential interior use in California.
The low-pitched copper roof collects rainwater and feeds it into an underground cistern. From the cistern, the water is pumped, filtered, and delivered to the toilets, laundry, and landscape irrigation.
In collaboration with Sherwood Design Engineers, 450 architects worked with municipal officials to receive approval for the system, paving the way for more California property owners to adopt large-scale rainwater harvesting systems of their own.
After five long years of drought, this year, California’s Bay Area got plenty of rain – and California’s very first approved residential rainwater harvester must have gotten a real workout.