The "DIY House", by Berkeley architect Endres Ware, was built for just $175,000

This year, the American Institute of Architects is launching an East Bay Home Tour to complement those it already organizes in San Francisco and Marin. The new tour, which takes place on August 13, features eight distinctive homes, five of which are in Berkeley — a sign, perhaps, that the city is alive and kicking with creative energy in the field of architecture.

All the homes on the tour — the three outside Berkeley are in Oakland, Lafayette and Orinda — share key characteristics: sustainability, open floor plans, connection of indoors to outdoors, abundant light and a mix of modern and traditional materials.

The five Berkeley homes — two of them the creations of Berkeley architects — each boast interesting stories of their own.

The “DIY House” was designed by Berkeley architect Endres Ware to be built by the owner, who had no prior construction experience. The result, a clever, energy efficient box, was built for just $175,000.

The stylish Berkeley Cube, built on a budget as an addition, was designed by San Francisco-based @6 Architecture

The “Berkeley Cube” house, designed by @6 Architecture, a contemporary addition to a 1940s house, was also built on a tight budget and is a stylish solution to a space problem.

The home of Berkeley architects Cate Leger and Karl Wanaselja on McGee Street is a model of sustainability and a wholly original design. The couple are committed to salvaging and re-using whenever possible and the nautical-themed home is clad in a blend of tree bark and old car roofs. Dodge Caravan windows were used for awnings.

The home of architects Cate Leger and Karl Wanaselja is a highly original design and a model of sustainability

A Queens Road home was built with ancient Roman impluviums in mind — architects Geoffrey Holton & Associates created a courtyard design that collects rainwater into an underground cistern. The project received the first permit for residential rainwater catchment in Berkeley.

A home on Queens Road received the first permit for residential rainwater catchment in Berkeley

By far the most lavish home is the Kapoor residence built in 2009 by Swatt Miers Architects on the crest of the Berkeley hills, allowing for panoramic Bay views. The home stacks and folds three layers of living space with dramatic cantilevered terraces and disappearing walls of glass.

The Kapoor residence in the Berkeley hills, by Swatt Miers Architects, is sumptuous and affords panoramic Bay views

The AIA East Bay Tour is on August 13, 10:00am-4:30pm. Tickets are $40 ($50 on the day) and can be bought on the AIA East Bay website, at the AIA office in downtown Oakland at 1405 Clay Street after July 24, or at two will-call stations in Berkeley and Orinda on the day of the tour. The architects for each home will be on-site for questions and discussions.

Berkeley architect built, rebuilt Frank Lloyd Wright home [07.19.11] 

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...