As we were carefully curating the books we would include in this 12 Days of Sustainable Reads series, a trio of books by noted architect Jeremiah Eck kept rising to the top of our review stack. On Day 2 of the series, we selected The Distinctive Home, one of Eck’s earlier works. For our selections on Days 10 and 11, we elevate two more works of Eck from our bookshelf, House in the Landscape and The Face of Home, respectively. We heartily recommend all these reads to anyone considering the design and build of a sustainable home due to the broader lessons on architecture and design they so aptly convey.
Day 10: House in the Landscape
More so than any other Jeremiah Eck book, House in the Landscape: Siting Your Home Naturally is squarely focused on advancing the concept of sustainable architecture. If you are an Eck devotee, it should come as no surprise that siting—the process of optimally positioning the structure on its parcel of land to balance topography, views, climate, solar orientation, and myriad other factors—is front and center.
But this book is a bit of a mea culpa for Eck, as his earlier works did not specifically address the posture of sustainability. As Eck writes in the introduction, “ … Something has changed, something that I knew all along but didn’t really want to face head-on: The sum of the planet is a fragile equation, the balance of which has been tilted, perhaps irrevocably, toward imbalance.
“As a consequence,” Eck continues, “I’ve begun to think of siting as almost a sacred act that must be given the most conscientious consideration. I’m humbled and more respectful of the effort to get it right.”
Then, in a fashion true to the Eck genre of architectural literature, he brings these significant collective learnings to life through well-documented representative projects, a few from the firm where he is a senior partner—Eck | MacNeely Architects—and many more originating from the diverse portfolios of architects across the U.S. Eck segregates these projects into logical groupings, including Coastal, Hot and Arid, Hot and Humid, Island, Neighborhoods, Sloping, Transitional, Urban, and Wooded.
One such project, appropriately integrated into the Hot and Arid section, is geographically situated just a handful of miles from our smart-home lab house in the Texas Hill Country. Designed by the San Antonio-based firm of Michael G. Imber Architects and located in the village of Wimberley, the Jennet Country House is sited with precision, yet has unique traits that are indigenous to the area to better cope with the often harsh southwestern climate.