August Update. A Carbon Light Family Home.

What with temperatures soaring to 38 degrees in July as well as having only a handful of downpours since May has given us the perfect opportunity to monitor the performance of the 20% material reduction solar shutters.

Sliding Solar Shutters

Sliding Solar Shutters

The two story sliding shutters have remained closed for the duration of the heat wave hitting Germany this Spring/Summer.   Living life behind the shutters has transformed the house into a comfortable, light and airy cool space throughout the day. Opening various windows in the evening pulls the cool air through the building, in effect dropping the inside temperature rapidly to the outside evening temperatures 0f 18-20 degrees.

Unlike todays usual thermal mass homes (Concrete) we worked with an insulation that reduces the longer time lapse of radiant heat in materials. With this house once the morning returns all windows are closed to trap in the cool air salvaged during the evening. The interior temperature stays below 20 well into the afternoon when outside temperature are rising above 30 by mid morning. The house keeps cool solely by natural ventilation, pulling in the cooled air from under the house by means of the floor vents and using the stack effect to continuously pull air upwards and out through the stairwell roof light, creating a controlled draft to cool down the occupants.

Once the evening returns the house is opened to repeat the cooling. The house has no delay with a thermal mass continuously radiating its heat to compete with. Concrete would still be releasing unwanted heat back into the house a week later. This house has shredded all its unwanted heat by early hours of the morning ready to repeat the cool box effect for the next day without the need of any artificial cooling or energy wasted.

March Update. A Carbon Light Family Home.

The start of the 20% reduction in material Siberian Larch shutters have began. Escalating material & labour costs within the construction industry since the credit crisis is changing the look of design within Architecture. Can we reduce 20% and still achieve a similar performance? Probably. But more so Apocalyptic Architecture has arrived. It couldn’t wait for a natural disaster. 20% Material Reduced Solar Shutters   So is there an architecture that could survive the 21st century apocalypse? Just take a look at some of the necessary characteristics suggested in this post on Survivalist Architecture, via Coffee With An Architect:

  • Energy Efficient Building Envelope – In an environment of scarce resources, the less energy a building requires, the better
  • Passive Solar Orientation – Key to both passive heating and natural daylighting, this is a key element to any survivalist compound
  • Rain Catchment Systems – Let’s face it, there’s no scenario on the table where potable water and sanitary sewer services will remain operational, so a basic greywater system is really a non-negotiable item to any project
  • Green Roof – (Specifically a rooftop garden)  Growing one’s own food is always a good idea, growing one’s own food in a reasonably defensible and concealable location is quite another
  • Solar Power / Photovoltaics – While the likelihood of finding repair parts in a post apocalypse wasteland is slim, the availability of electricity could be particularly useful during the transition period, provided your neighbors don’t know you have it
  • Wind Turbines – Similar to photovoltaics, except everyone will know you have it
  • Long-Life / Low Maintenance Materials – You’re going to be plenty busy dealing with the day to day business of hoarding supplies and scavenging for food, the last thing that’s going to be on your mind is, “When was the last time I cleaned the gutters?”
  • Low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) Materials – There’s a significant chance you’ll be spending a whole lot of time indoors, the last thing you need is to be dealing with Sick Building Syndrome at the same time

Further reads on Apocalyptic Architecture  Archdaily.com 

February Update. A Carbon Light Family Home.

Plenty of work has been going on inside the house over the winter but now spring is arriving fast its time to start planning and fabricating the huge shutters. Four shutters each over 5m in height have been designed to completely close off the whole South Elevation. Mounting of the frames are planned for March. Once up in place a Douglas Fir under construction will firstly be added before i start fixing the horizontal Larch Shutters. This will be a massive step forward in the house’s performance.

A Carbon Light Family Home

 Glimpses of an emerging design

 

 

 

A New Years message with a little European flair feels appropriate for 2014.

Traditional timber frame barn
 
As most would have worked out I have been working with modern timber frame prototypes for the passed 10 years. 
The knowledge I have gained from this took me from a Low Energy House (KfW-Effizienzhaus 55. EnEV 2009) I designed through to today’s carbon light home which achieved the German Energy Standard for a KfW-40 Haus (EnEV). Our Prototype fell well within the standard, actually achieving a performance of 31 kWh/(m2) year. To put this into perspective the UK’s current average figure for energy efficiency today stands at 150 kWh/(m2) year.
 
Up until now I have kept a strict line between our two favoured Architectural genres of energy efficient housing and that of historical timber frame buildings.
From this year on I’m going to take everything I learnt and amalgamate that knowledge into one.
 
I will then take that consciousness and investigate further into European requirements for energy efficiency and conservation planning of historical buildings, meaning I can explore more appropriate ways of protecting Europe’e heritage by means of solar envelopes and other techniques previously only usually seen in connection with modern envelopes to new builds.
 
Finally by working closely with others I can capture key details in delivering sympathetic restorations. 
By merging state of the art new materials and combining them with old techniques we can hopefully re generate lost craftsmanship skills that would have been lost forever.  We can modernise historical envelopes of buildings, taking energy efficiency to that new level in renovation, but most importantly without ruining the magic of the old. This kind of mindset will hopefully protect some of the best examples in Europe’s heritage for many decades to come.
The charm of a traditional village farmhouse 2014
Historical barn
It is looking at things for a long time that ripens you and gives you a deeper meaning
– Vincent van Gogh.