Highlighting Modern Architecture & Design

NorCal Modern’s Asian Influences, “Grid Neutral,” & Architects as Thought-Leaders | Q&A w/ Hari Sridapanna, Srusti Architects

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Photo: Hari Sripadanna AIA LEED AP

Photo: Hari Sripadanna AIA LEED AP

This weekend’s Silicon Valley Modern Home Tour charts a course through a region rich in modernist history. One home on the tour was designed by Hari Sripadanna, whose firm, Srusti Architects, takes its name from the Sanskrit word for “creation.” This home – the architect’s personal residence – taps into the legacy of Northern Californian architecture, a style that absorbed Asian and Japanese influences. As Hari sees it, the concepts of simplicity, naturalism, and human proportion are key areas of overlap between the work he does in NorCal and the kind his father did in India.

We had the chance to sit down with Hari and chat about his home, “grid neutral,” and how architects can be thought-leaders within their communities.  

Q&A w/ Hari Sripadanna, Srusi Architects

This home is your own personal home. What were your priorities when you set out to design it?

When I first began developing my home, I focused on sustainable design, which I believe can be carried across to all aspects of living. I wanted to create an open and inviting environment for my children to grow up in and I also wanted my family understand the impact of building and construction on the environment. My goal was to create something that can interact with the environment instead of impacting it in a negative way.

My home is more than a house. It is a reflection of my values, for my family and the community to experience.

Photo: Hari Sripadanna AIA LEED AP

Photo: Hari Sripadanna AIA LEED AP

This home has the qualification of being “grid neutral.” What exactly does that mean, and how was it achieved?

Grid neutral means to balance out the energy you consume from the electrical grid by producing the same amount of energy, effectively making your electric bill zero. When I began designing my home, I incorporated several elements of green design to lower our energy intake. By using radiant heating, passive solar design, natural ventilation, and a live green roof, our energy consumption was significantly lowered. I was able to optimize consumption further by using solar panels to reduce our electric bill, to zero, effectively making our home ‘grid neutral’.

Your design was inspired by the local Northern California mid-century modern architecture.  What does Northern California modern mean to you?

I wanted to show how sustainable design can be incorporated into home with style and comfort. My father was influenced by modern masters of the profession, and when I came to California, I found Northern Californian architecture to be somewhere our styles overlapped. Northern Californian modern architecture absorbed Asian and Japanese influences, expressing the natural qualities of the material, simplicity, use of natural lighting, and human proportions. I designed the house sympathetic to the architectural context of my neighborhood, largely designed by Anshen +Allen, pioneers in Northern Californian architecture. One of the highlights of my home is to experience the day light reflect off the beautiful local reclaimed redwood ceilings and walls.

Photo: Hari Sripadanna AIA LEED AP

Photo: Hari Sripadanna AIA LEED AP

The name of your firm, Srusti Architects, is from the Sanskrit word for “creation” and is taken from the name of your father’s successful architectural firm in India.  How did your father’s work in India influence your own design aesthetic, and what drew you to set up your own practice in Saratoga?

As a child, I grew up in a home my father designed. My first job was working in his firm in India where he taught me, his philosophy and values in architecture. I grew up in a small town, in a contemporary modern home he designed, with an open plan, filled with natural light. When I left commercial architecture to start my own practice, I wanted to continue his legacy by naming my design firm, Srusti, after his. Saratoga is a small town surrounded by natural beauty, and I love to enhance the Bay Area environment through my architecture, a design philosophy handed down from my father to me.

Photo: Hari Sripadanna AIA LEED AP

Photo: Hari Sripadanna AIA LEED AP

You said that your design approach also focused on a professional responsibility of “walking the walk.” In what ways do you believe architects and designs could and should be leaders in their societies?

Architects think holistically about the community and its future. They are natural thought leaders of the community, always predicting, leading and responding to change. I wanted my home to exemplify that approach. By building my own home at a time when there were very few LEED homes, I was able to shape the community in my own way. I believe it is my responsibility to lead by example and demonstrate the benefits of sustainable design to rest of the community especially within the arena of domestic architecture. I want to make it personal for individuals and the public when they experience their habitat, just as it’s been personal to me throughout my career.

Don’t miss your chance to explore this home in person — purchase your tickets to the Silicon Valley Modern Home Tour today!

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