ATOMIC RANCH: “Net Zero: No Problem”

September 16, 2020 § Leave a comment

How a North Carolina architect created a private and environmentally sustainable home for a couple to break free of traditional living.

By Lauren Hofer | Photos by Keith Isaacs “The Serdar Net Zero-Net Positive Micropolis® House”

July 15, 2018 § Leave a comment


This modern, Net Zero-Net Positive house is a customized version of one of architect Arielle Condoret Schechter’s Micropolis® houses — a collection of small, modern, sustainable house plans she continues to design that can be purchased outright or customized to accommodate specific needs.

Her clients, Cheryl and Ken Serdar, loved the original 950-square-foot plan but needed a bit more space. So Schechter enlarged it to 2222 heated square feet to include a spacious, spa-like bathroom and a third bedroom that Cheryl could use for her office and jewelry-making studio.

Originally from Texas, the Serdars were very clear about what they wanted. They told Schechter that they wanted their new home in the Piedmont region of North Carolina to be “very modern, extremely green, and almost industrial.” … READ MORE 

THE MODERN SHELTER: “A professor’s retreat”

March 25, 2018 § Leave a comment


A professor's retreat — The modern shelter 2018-03-24 22-19-40 “Professor’s House”

March 25, 2018 § Leave a comment


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BEST “Haiman El Troudi Douwara recommends: Empty Nest House Designed For A Retired Professor In Chapel Hill, NC”

November 1, 2017 § Leave a comment



Micropolis® Morphed: Out of “Little Paws,” A Custom-Designed Small Home Emerges

April 28, 2016 § Leave a comment

Not-quite-so-tiny house rendering. By Arielle Condoret Schechter

Construction should begin soon in Chapel Hill on Schechter’s not-quite-so-tiny house, which remains true to the original modern design with its rhythmic volumes, crisp geometry, flat roof lines and extra bedroom.

 The professor/author wanted to build “Little Paws,” one of Chapel Hill architect Arielle Condoret Schechter’s collection of tiny, modern, sustainable house plans she sells under the registered trademark Micropolis Houses®.  But at 1059 square feet, “Little Paws” only had room for two bedrooms.

“And she needed three bedrooms,” Schechter said. “So ‘Little Paws’ quickly morphed into a custom small house – a sort of custom Micropolis®, if you will. But it’s still way under the size of the average American house, which is 2500 square feet. This house is still only 1679 square feet.”

Construction should begin soon in Chapel Hill on Schechter’s not-quite-so-tiny house, which remains true to the original modern design with its rhythmic volumes, crisp geometry, flat rooflines and extra bedroom. Packing a lot of punch into its modest envelope, this small custom-designed home includes an open great room and dining area, a “super-functional” working kitchen, Schechter said, a study, a guest suite and additional bedroom, plus a master suite complete with Japanese Ofuro soaking tub.

As with all of her residential projects, Arielle Schechter prioritizes natural light inside and spectacular spaces outside to encourage the connection between indoors and outdoors. In this case, those spaces are a screen porch, terrace, and pool, all of which overlook a natural creek. An abundance of windows, including corner glass, offers constant views of the outdoors. Deep roof overhangs protect the glass from the high summer sun – one of the many green building principles Schechter utilized for this project.

An advocate of age-in-place architecture, Schechter also made sure “Little Paws” was adaptable to universal design even though the original plan was intended as a raised pier house. The professor welcomed the adaptation, Schechter said, so that this will be her last home.

Years in the making: Tiny homes are growing increasingly popular today, but Arielle Schechter didn’t design Micropolis Houses® to jump on the bandwagon. Growing up in North Carolina, she realized that the mobile homes scattered or clumped together across North Carolina filled the need for small housing options but had no design integrity, they were usually made of poor materials, and she couldn’t see how they contributed to their owners’ quality of life. So a few years ago she began working on an alternative and Micropolis Houses® were born – quality, architect-designed house plans that range from 150 to 1500 square feet and can be customized to meet specific buyers’ needs and preferences.

For more information on Arielle Condoret Schechter, the Micropolis Houses® and all of her work, visit “Net-zero Happy Meadows Courtyard House is a perfectly passive residence in North Carolina”

June 27, 2015 § Leave a comment

Modern, age-in-place, net zero passive house by Chapel Hill architectArielle Condoret Schechter, AIA

Happy Meadows Courtyard House designed by Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA

Happy Meadows Courtyard House is a modern, age-in-place, net zero passive house designed by Chapel Hill, NC, architect Arielle Condoret Schechter. Constructed primarily of 5500 psi concrete, the 2300-square-foot one-story house is nestled on a hill in a forest clearing overlooking a natural meadow. Its low, modest profile respects the setting while honoring the homeowners’ modernist sensibilities, while a solar array, daylighting, rainwater catchment, reclaimed materials, pre-fab construction and careful placement on the plot maximize the home’s sustainability. READ MORE…

“Green” Architect Helps Seniors Conserve Energy Use and Costs, Age In Place

October 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

During Orange Co. Dept. on Aging Housing Expohome-energy-conservation1

Chapel Hill architect Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA will help senior citizens and their families discover ways to make their homes more energy-efficient during The Orange County Department on Aging Housing Expo Saturday, October 25, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Seymour Center.

Schechter specializes in “super-green” housing with a focus on passive homes built to PHIUS (Passive House Institute US) standards, which are among the most stringent sustainability standards in the world.

“Passive houses are not quite the same thing as passive solar,” Schechter noted. “They are much more than that, although passive solar is often one of the many features of a passive house. ”

She explained that passive houses include super-insulation, a tight building envelope, and the elimination of thermal bridging (junctions where insulation is not continuous and causes heat loss). As a result, passive houses use dramatically less energy than the standard home and recoup the up-front costs for the extra insulation with dramatically lowered electrical bills for the rest of the house’s life. The US Department of Energy has praised Passive House standards as being the best path to Net Zero (zero energy consumption).

From her booth at the Expo, however, Schechter will help seniors explore simple energy-conservation options for their existing homes.

“The US Department of Energy says that replacing 15 old light bulbs with LED lights will save you about $50 per year on your electric bill.” she said. “There are so many other little things you can do around your home that will add up to real energy cost savings, such as stopping air leaks with caulk and weather-stripping and insulation to save money and make your house more comfortable. When it comes time to replace an appliance, I’ll recommend buying ones with the Energy Star® rating. Same with windows: If you have to replace them, switch to high-efficiency windows that have the right type of glass. Some passive house windows have an R-value almost the same as a standard insulated stud wall. And with the droughts that are becoming the norm every summer in our state, I’m a big advocate of collecting rainwater, whether with simple rain barrels or more involved cistern systems for lawn and garden irrigation.”

Schechter also specializes in “age in place” housing. According to AARP, older homeowners overwhelmingly prefer to age in place, which means living in their homes safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age or ability. Schechter will be available to discuss home modifications that could allow seniors to remain in their homes rather than move into long-term care facilities by increasing access and maneuverability.

“Modifications range from simple solutions to elaborate undertakings,” Schechter said. “Simple modifications include changing out lights to brighter LED bulbs for aging eyes, adding bath and shower grab bars, and changing floor coverings to accommodate a wheel chair or to get rid of slippery surfaces. More involved efforts might include removing a shower curb to make it curb-less, adding a simple exterior ramp to your entry instead of a staircase, widening doorways, creating a multifunctional first floor master suite if the master bedroom is currently on the second story, and even installing a home elevator. How much you do will depend on need and budget.”

The Chapel Hill Seymour Center is located at 2551 State Road 1777, Chapel Hill, NC 27516. For more information on the Housing Expo, go to

For more information on Arielle Condoret Schechter and her work, visit

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