Climate change is affecting the West, and tragic wildfires are a reality that we need to learn to deal with. Could fire-resistant homes be the solution?
California has been experiencing its most destructive wildfire season to date, and research predicts that the number of wildfires in the West will further increase as a consequence of environmental changes. LA-based architect Abeer Sweis of SweisKloss has been working on a possible solution: fire-resistant homes. In fact, a fireproof home that she designed for the Ojai Valley, one of California’s notorious fire zones, survived the area’s 2017 Thomas Fire. “Now we are working on a lot of homes in fire zones,” the architect explains, “the Ojai home was one of the first.”
The Ojai Home
Sweis designed the Ojai home in 2012, and its construction held challenges beyond building in a known fire zone—the siting was restricted, and the project is located on a hill surrounded by oak trees. Fire safety was a huge priority, and Sweis incorporated fire-resistant materials that are both functional and beautiful—burnished concrete blocks, fire-rated exposed timbers, tempered glass that withstands constant heat, and a metal roof. When a wildfire struck in 2017, the home that Sweis designed survived while its neighbors burned.
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