© 2010 Jeff The-First-Day-of-Fall-in-2010

Autumnal Equinox, and designing for the seasons…

A friend remarked recently that, (in the design world)- “green is the only currency“. Or as Wilco sings, “why is there no currency of leaves“.  The interesting thing about the green movement is that, (though a powerful force for good), it is not based on any absolutely new ideas.  Or as the proverbial saying goes “there is nothing new under the sun“- how poetic and ironic.  Long before the crush of the the 1970′s energy crisis changed everything in America- and the high economy of the 1990′s enabled more conspicuous consumption; buildings and homes were design in-sympatico with site, nature and regional environment.  Mostly, because… they HAD TO- without our modern day, powerful HVAC systems, that allowed them to totally ignore the way the sun light hit the building- thier buildings had to self ventilate and provide shade from the relentless bombardment of the sun.

Where does the sun rise and set?  What direction does most weather come from (answer: south-west).  These are the kinds of questions that must be answered and understood, to truly comprehend how to design thoughtfully, anything.  It’s not new, it is ancient- only recently has there been a need to re-understand it.  When I begin a new design it starts with the site, it’s limitations, it’s topography- the vistas we desire to maximize, the areas we would rather not focus on.  Included in this myriad of considerations is always THE SUN, it’s rising and setting points (that change throughout the seasons) and the best way to balance all of these considerations.

In one simple example, at our latitude the angle of the sun at the winter solstice is approximately 33 degrees above the horizon (facing due south) and during the summer solstice about 80 degrees. When designing for a southerly facing exposure the goal is to minimize the direct sun’s invasion to the interior of the house while maximizing it’s warmth during the winter months.  It is a function of these kinds of considerations and careful examinations that create the appropriate OVERHANG of eave.

Is that green?

One Comment

  1. Posted 10/01/2010 at 1:02 PM | #

    you had me at Wilco.

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