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See how simple it is to design well?
by Katy Purviance on 04/08/08 @ 08:58:04 am
Categories: Green Design, Articles | 435 words | 878 views

I just read this article in the Herald Tribune called “Adapting Roman architecture to Florida’s climate.”

It discusses a house in Celebration, FL called Tradewinds.

Because every wall has windows. Some large. Some as clerestory transoms. Some in a cupola.

You open them up and get a fantastic cross breeze. Even if it’s nasty humid outside.

Mouen shows us how Roman-era domestic architecture can be adapted to 21st-century lifestyles, and how ancient climate-control principles can provide comfort that meets a 21st-century standard.

Mouen’s U-shaped plan is an adaptation of a Roman courtyard villa with living spaces opening off a central courtyard. In this case the central area is occupied by a swimming pool and a spa. It is open at one end to capture the view of the adjacent Lake Susanna, and to funnel the cool breezes blowing off the water into the interior rooms.

To create cross ventilation, which is essential in Florida’s humid climate, each room has large windows on one or more outside walls, and some rooms have clerestory transoms, as well. To give these interior wind currents an assisting nudge, a small hideaway cupola projecting above the roofline will draw air upwards when its windows are opened.

Imagine.

How simple is that?

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best.

It certainly makes more sense than pumping an enormous AC unit.

Two other ancient techniques for comfort control were also added to the mix. The light colors of the exterior – white stucco walls and a grey metal roof – will help to reduce heat gain. With the high ceilings, the hottest air will rise well above the occupants’ heads. There were some modern climate-control touches, as well – heat gain through the roof was further reduced with modern insulation in the attic. Insulation for the walls and windows with low-e coatings also will help to keep the heat outside.

Did I mention that one wall completely opens up?

From a lifestyle perspective, Mouen said that a central courtyard configuration creates a private outdoor area immediately adjacent to interior living spaces. Add to this a modern modification – a window wall that folds back so that the living spaces are completely open to the outdoors – and you have a Florida homeowner’s version of heaven.

And how about this novel concept instead of the modern alarm clock?

In keeping with Roman custom, the bedrooms are on the east side of the house so that the owners can wake with the sun, Mouen said.

See how simple it is to design well? To design in line with nature’s principles?

Read the whole thing

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places where you could probably learn more about designing and building in just a few days than I did after a year of grad school

Know of some others I can add here? Let me know. Have you already visited some of these places...or planning on it? Let me know and I will feature your story and your photos here!

I am starting a new kind of architecture school. Unlike most architecture schools, you wouldn't have to submit GRE scores or good grades or letters of recommendation. You wouldn't have to put the rest of your life on hold for 3 to 5 years. You wouldn't have to accrue tens of thousands of dollars in debt. At my architecture school, anyone could come for a few weeks and learn how to build a house with their own two hands. My teachers would take skills and concepts from some of these other workshops I've listed above... except classes would be held year-round to make it easy to fit into your schedule. I would have a number of different campuses around the country that would teach building designs appropriate to the local climate. And I need your help. Can you donate land for a campus? Can you dotate books for a library? Can you teach a workshop? Can you provide start-up capital? Let me know.

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