2003 brought terrible fires once again to Southern California. One such fire wiped out a large area in Valley Center, CA. This is where I met my clients, standing on what was left of their burned to the ground home among blackened trees and everything else on a large parcel overlooking the valley.
After I expressed sincere condolences, they informed me that they were having a very hard time finding an architect that was interested or willing to help them rebuild. I was shocked. Standing there with them, I wanted nothing more than to help them rebuild their lives. Our journey together began at that moment.
The owners had done some research about a new building material called Tridipanel. They asked me to check it out, and see if it's something I thought was a good idea, and if could I figure out how to design a house with this new innovative material.
One of the few global manufacturing locations for this product was in Mexico. Being in San Diego, it was an easy decision to visit the factory and learn as much as possible about the product - it's capabilities and design opportunities, etc. Of course, being Mexico, I had to turn it into a little fun vacation. My wife came with, and we had a great time visiting the factory, visiting several homes built with this material, and seeing a Baja drag race in the dark.
Once I'd figured out how to to use the material, and learned it's terrific structural and insulation capabilities, I was hooked. Designing to these impressive capabilities was both fun and rewarding, creating a wonderful design that takes advantage of the 300° views and provides a very large protected courtyard that has the best view framed through giant sliding glass doors on both sides of the high bay Great Room. This large courtyard is actually more like a central plaza like you'd find in the small towns in Mexico.
The cantilever ability with this material was fun, and was used extensively to provide lots of protection from the hot Valley Center sun.
The husband, being in the construction industry, did a fantastic job of running the construction himself, with plenty of support and encouragement from his wife.
Site visits were fun, informative and helpful to the ultimate outcome of the project.
These fire victims now live in an innovative non-combustible concrete building that will never burn, allowing their growing family to build a new life in a beautiful area overlooking the valley, which is their community.
Happiness all around...