When a client contacts you to design a new home for them in another country, using passive solar design, it is quite an honour to follow through and with the advent of internet, facebook, gmail, google earth and Skype, chatting and establishing a link to an area to design has never been easier. Foyer means home in the French language and in this case the client’s surname is French.
This client’s brief for a passive solar designed home was no different to other homes or houses but the experience to design a passive solar design to take full advantage of the sun and its natural warming value for winter months and allow good ventilation is learned over time. My experience has been international for over 35 years.
This house was to be a simple 3 storey timber framed home allowing for a double garage basement buried into the ground 1.5m. On top of the basement was to be the living area with decks allowing views to the Hauraki Gulf and facing North. The whole building was to be clad in corrugated iron to give it that industrial look. 3 bedrooms, open living and decks to take advantage of the views, the sun and providing passive solar design to the whole building.
The property is well positioned for passive solar design, a large piece of land with a Northern aspect, hills surround the eastern side of the property and they are closer to the southern side of the property with the road to the South. In passive Solar design it is best to have access from the South to provide better security to the living areas in the North and as the entranceway has a lot of air movement with the front door being opened and shut it pulls warm air from the rest of the house as needed to keep an ambient temperature.
There is a problem when a house faces west as this property does, to take advantage of the views in that the sun sets low both summer and winter in the western sky, which does not bode well for the home making it too hot and uncomfortable in summer. Special attention needs to be given in consideration of any design with conditions like this. In this instance we have opted for screens that will filter the summer sun through mesh reducing the glare and heat while providing an element of viewing to the west. The screens are tilted to the North West so the winter sun has no filtering.
You will notice on the floor plan that the Northern wall is angled to the East and that is fine as the summer eastern sun rises South East whereas the winter eastern sun rises North East so we only have the winter sun warming the house early in the winter and the summer sun doesn’t affect the building.
Lead on from the 1st floor living areas up at the top floor which has 3 bedrooms, one being the Master Bedroom complex with walk-in-wardrobe and Ensuite. The other two bedrooms share a main bathroom off the stairwell where a laundry chute allows for dirty clothes to be deposited to the laundry in the basement.
The client was expecting a concrete block retaining wall to house the garage and then build in timber construction on top to three storeys. Concrete can be very expensive in comparison to timber frame but provides some benefits over timber such as sound and also provides a option to suspend a concrete slab for the roof but cost was a factor in the area this house is to be constructed and so we chose to batter the ground so it was clear of the basement and then construct in timber frame.
After further discussions with the client some minor adjustments were made cutting the sharp corner off the Master Bedroom Deck and turning it into a deck eliminating the cantilever deck shown on the original.