Monday, April 28, 2008

Building to the weather - Part 1 of 7: Maximizing sun exposure

What does it mean to 'build to the weather'?

Look at this 1864 barn, the Park-McCullough House Carriage House, designed by an architect for a very wealthy family. A working stable - people and horses lived in it year round. It had very little heat: a stove in the tack room, another in the living quarters. However, its use of natural forces for winter warmth and summer cooling were quite effective. The techniques can be seen in many other barns built for ordinary farmers.

There was plenty of land - the barn could have been sited and organized in many different ways. Architecturally, it was placed visually to compliment the House, sitting just beyond it and framing the lawn. The main facade looked back to the House (and the flower garden and pond, which are no longer there). add another photograph of the House and barn together

The architect considered the climate. He understood how to work with the sun. He set the long side of the barn to face due south for maximum sunshine - technically called 'solar gain'. The east end, the front, would get morning sun; the south side, sun all day; the west side, afternoon sun; and the north side, a brief bit of sun only in mid-summer. He knew that in this part of western Vermont the wind blows mainly from the west, sometimes from the north. Wind is good for cooling in the summer, but makes things colder in the winter - technically called 'wind chill'.

Here's the whole series:

Part 1 -

Part 2 - How does the carriage house work with the sun to minimize wind chill?

Part 3 - Why bother with a cupola?

Part 4 - Eaves? they're important?

Part 5 - How a floor plan makes a difference:

Part 6 -  A look at how these concepts were used at the Big House:

Part 7 - Shutters:            

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