Inventive Design for a modern marvel in Rural Northern California
The Junaid Residence is a minimalistic, modern marvel located in picturesque Los Altos Hills, a rural area in Northern California which is home to many of Silicon Valley’s elite. The project sprung to life after the family discovered the perfect piece of property, in the community they love, where the architect/homeowner has designed many homes.
The home was completed in 2018 and has already received attention for the multitude of unique design features and functions. The home was featured in the Wall Street Journal (December 2018), the San Francisco Chronicle (February 2019) and continues to garner interest both for its contemporary design and the inventive details housed inside.
Type: Single family home, new construction
Location: Los Altos Hills, California
Total Square Footage: 9,991 square feet
Floor Covering: Porcelain tiles, engineered hardwood
Energy: Natural gas, Photovoltaic solar system, 95% Energy-efficient boiler
Architect & Homeowner
Malika Junaid, M. Designs Architects
Malika Junaid is a founder and principal of the Silicon Valley award-winning architectural firm, M. Designs Architects, located in Palo Alto. This architecture, planning and interior design firm specializing in sustainable, residential design as well as commercial and industrial projects. In 2009 Malika founded the Green Learning Institute in California, which helps communities establish environmentally sustainable building practices through training and education.
“As a designer I really like to test things out for my client’s homes, and this was an excellent opportunity to do that. We used many innovative features and snuck in some Star Trek inspirations for my husband who is a sci-fi fan.
The circular glass dining room that extends 10 feet up over the indoor swimming pool was envisioned as the Star Trek Enterprise in an abstract museum. My daughters, one of which is a huge Harry Potter fan, wished for a hidden staircase which I designed behind a bookshelf that leads up to the girls’ play loft.
The style of the home is minimalistic modern but livable. It was designed for our family and has a very open floor plan with an interactive flow throughout the house. One of my favorite innovations is the 19ft long retractable kitchen backsplash. With a simple touch on the underside of the cabinets, the backsplash retracts to reveal kitchen appliances like the coffee maker, toaster and blender. When the backsplash is raised, the appliances are out of view which gives a clean, flush look. I wanted to keep everyday items within reach so they’re accessible when needed.
As the homeowner and architect it was extremely important to me that the colors compliment the whole environment. There is a fine line where you can appreciate architecture, but you’ll think there is no way I can live in this place, it’s like a museum. But as soon as we began thinking about how we were going to be living in it, it started evolving into this warm, cozy feel.
We had forced air in our last home because at the time it was too cost prohibitive to use radiant heating. We always regretted not installing radiant as the forced air system did not heat the large open spaces evenly and the constant on/off cycling of the noisy fans and blowers was very loud and intrusive. We made radiant floor heating a requirement in this new house. We realized that the additional investment of radiant, compared to forced air, catches up quickly between the streamlined construction time and costs, as well as overall energy savings. The comfort of in-floor heating is unmatched and the temperature is always even, always constant, and always just right.
Another thing we really like is how easily and efficiently Warmboard heats all of the large, open rooms, especially with the abundance of floor to ceiling glass. The dining room has an expansive 2-story hangar door that opens fully, and we also have sliding floor to ceiling doors that help connect the interior space to the outdoors. Warmboard creates the most comfortable environment, surrounding us with subtle, silent warmth, even with the immense expanses of glass.
We see Warmboard as part of the construction system, as opposed to a more component-parts based system, and the product design accomplishes this easily. Construction is sped up due to the subfloor being installed at the same time as the radiant heating system, which is incredibly advantageous. The service Warmboard provides is amazing from the sales team to design services to technical support. Any questions we had were easily answered and Warmboard was readily available to help every step of the way.
A recent shift that we’re beginning to see in our projects is how people use living space differently, depending on the site. Hillside properties in the Bay Area are plentiful and homeowners are beginning to look at walkout basements as main, common living spaces, not simply as dark and drab basements of the past. Radiant heat is by far the optimal way to heat these areas due to the consistent temperature and the ability to keep the space perfectly comfortable from winter through summer, and all the fluctuations in between.
There are 12 heat zones in the project which makes it easy for us to keep the common spaces at a temperature comfortable for all our family and the more personalized spaces, such as bedrooms and bathrooms, set to each family member’s preference. From my family’s perspective, the Warmboard radiant heating system was the best fit because of the comfort it provides, while being highly energy efficient. We always have enough heat, no matter how cold it is outside, and the system responds quickly to our needs. From an architect’s perspective, I like designing with Warmboard because it saves time during installation, gives me total design freedom as there are no unsightly registers and vents, and the services they provide are outstanding!
I look forward to designing many more homes with Warmboard radiant heating as the standard home heating system."
- M. Designs Architects
Benjamin Macias, MB Construction
Serving the Bay Area, MB Construction takes pride in providing professional services to every client they meet, from initial interaction to project completion. Benjamin is passionate about the work they do, and his team is highly experienced in handling challenging jobs. MB Construction’s belief is that no remodel is too small, and no project is too large.
"We’ve worked with M. Designs Architects on multiple projects and have an exceptional relationship with the firm. When Malika asked if we’d like to take on the challenge of building her family’s home we were honored and jumped at the chance.
The greatest challenge of the project was the complexity of both the giant aircraft door and the level of automation throughout the house. Both of these were resolved with support from an amazing engineering team and the patience of our crew constantly working to achieve the complex design.
A requirement of Malika’s vision was an energy efficient residence that is comfortable whether the huge aircraft doors are opened to the outdoors or tightly closed. The team had to work out how to provide even, consistent, reliable heating with such sizable, open common spaces. The heating and design implementation was accomplished by Jimenez Hydronics, an expert in the field, and by Warmboard’s amazing product.
Additionally, with the 60' swimming pool in the house, we had to make sure that heating around the pool, drainage, and waterproofing was handled properly. Lastly, due to the ultra-modern and minimalist nature of the house, it was problematic at times finding space in the walls and ceiling; and I honestly don’t think this house could have been built with HVAC ducting.
The most valuable benefits of Warmboard, in my opinion, are that the product quality is exceptionally high and that Warmboard is integrated as part of the subfloor. Every time we have worked with Warmboard the clients absolutely love the subfloor, even though they know it is going to be covered with finished floors and unseen. When does anyone ever get excited about subfloor?
We loved every moment of working on The Junaid Residence. There was never a dull moment and every aspect of the project challenged our knowledge of construction. Best of all – the engineers, the design team, and us (the contractor) worked as one team figuring out the optimal way to construct this truly one of a kind residence. It was a memorable experience that my team will never forget, and we look forward to seeing more of Malika’s innovative ideas and designs."
- MB Construction
Irving Jimenez, Jimenez Hydronics
With over 17 years of experience, Jimenez Hydronics is one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s top hydronic companies and are proud to provide their clients with design and installation services they can trust. Irving’s goal is to create the most comfortable home environment by providing a clean, efficient, and sustainable system that fulfills the home’s space heating needs and domestic water production. Irving prides himself on excellent design, optimal solutions, superior workmanship, and on-time delivery for new builds remodels or system upgrades.
"My involvement with the project began with a referral from the builder, Benjamin Macias, who I’ve worked with before. I met with Malika and her husband and we discussed the project and the applications. They were already familiar with Warmboard as their firm had previously designed homes with it and have had nothing but positive feedback from customers.
One of the most important issues I’m concerned with is the system efficiency. Warmboard is at the forefront of this as the panels are the most conductive available in the marketplace. High efficiency condensing boilers are key to an efficient system, but what good are they if the delivery method is not the best possible?
I have been in the Hydronics trade for 17 years and have designed and installed hundreds of systems. I have done systems with boilers, water-to air-and water-to-water geothermal heat pumps. I have worked with just about every method of hydronic heating from steam to traditional floor heating methods, high-temperature baseboard, wall panel radiators, and driveway snow melt. Without a question, Warmboard panel systems are at the top of the list. Over the years, I’ve been very fortunate to have been part of some of the Bay Area’s most beautiful, most intricate and most efficient homes.
I like to say that the Warmboard product is amazing, but Warmboard is so much more than just the product!
The service and the attention to detail that Warmboard provides truly complements the quality of their panels.
Ultimately, my objective is to provide heat to a home and there are other systems that can achieve that. They can get from point A to point B, but not necessarily in the best way possible. Other methods fail to deliver, not just from a heating perspective, but also from stability, structural and integrity standpoint. While other radiant floor panels with aluminum may deliver a similar performance to Warmboard, they often fail to provide a quiet in-floor system as the metal doesn't have the same stability as Warmboard.
One of the things I really like about Warmboard is the flexibility their panels provide depending on the needs of the project – Warmboard-S for new builds and Warmboard-R for remodels. I know both panels will perform optimally and provide rapid heat delivery to the floors in response to changing heating needs.
Compared to gypcrete/concrete applications, Warmboard’s low mass allows for fast response but also does not overheat by having a long post-heating cycle. High mass like concrete will continue to heat even after the temperature is met due to passive storage in the slab.
It was a pleasure being part of the team that supported, designed, and crafted this elegant home. Hearing about the recognition that the project has received makes us proud of the services delivered as the Junaid Residence was a very gratifying project to be a part of.
It was wonderful to design and select products with the homeowners and I enjoyed taking their input and incorporating their thoughts into the system. I was able to design a system that provides their whole-home space heating and domestic hot water needs utilizing a high efficiency condensing boiler. Paired with Warmboard-S panels the boiler provides a low mass, low-temperature system. The objective is to use as little energy as possible to meet the ambient temperature settings and Warmboard’s low running water temperatures are key to achieving this. The house consists of 12 zones which optimize the efficiency of the system by allowing the different areas of the home to be heated independently. Zoning is a key component of a system’s efficiency as the temperature can be turned up or down as desired or turned off completely in unoccupied areas."
- Jimenez Hydronics
It was so nice to hear Malika and her team’s thoughtful words about Warmboard. In 1992, I was a practicing architect myself, also about to build my second home. And like Malika, having suffered from the forced hot air in my first home, I was committed to building with radiant this time. Part of my motivation to invent Warmboard back then was for the benefit of my two children with asthma; I knew that they would benefit greatly from the improved air quality of radiant, compared to the dust and dirt air that comes with hot air systems.
For myself the big advantage of radiant was its quiet nature and the fact that it does not send all of the hot air to the upstairs bedrooms. With easy zoning, every room can be just the right temperature: living areas one temperature, bedrooms may be a little cooler, bathrooms a little warmer.
But lots of radiant systems provide these benefits. What makes Warmboard stand apart from all other methods and earned me a patent is its high conductivity and ease of use. As a radiant panel that combines the superior structure of 11/8" subfloor with highly conductive, thick aluminum, we dramatically lower labor costs by fully integrating into conventional construction. It’s been said that the best engineer is a lazy man just trying to find an easier way to do something, and it was great to hear the team appreciate how easy it is to construct with Warmboard.
The heart of the superior thermodynamics of Warmboard is its thick 1060 aluminum. We chose this pure alloy for its ease of stamping so that the aluminum was continuous across the entire sheet, even into the channels that retain the tubing. A happy result of that approach was that it also made us the most conductive radiant panel available by a wide margin. That means fast response for comfort and the lowest possible water temperatures for highest energy efficiency.
Lastly, as an entrepreneur, I realized that it’s not enough to invent a great product — sometimes you have to invent a great company to bring it to market. As nice as it is to hear Malika’s entire team appreciate the many benefits of the Warmboard radiant panel, it is most rewarding to hear the kind words about how professionally they were treated by everyone
at Warmboard. We continually strive to deliver an outstanding experience for every customer.