As I move further into the design process, I am starting to focus on things that are important. Being that the area is primarily in a heating region, and I am working on a north facing slope, I realized that creating a passive solar house wouldn't make much sense. Instead I want to concentrate on water collecting, cross ventilation, solar gain (when I can), solar energy, geothermal heat, radiant floor heating, hierarchy of spaces, path and journeys through the space, building envelope, material composition, etc. This is a more complete idea that takes some of the good things about all of my previous designs and starts to massage them into something. This model is about 2500 sf, which is about 500 sf over my goal. This will shrink as I start to really work through this design and the problems it presents.
I had many thoughts on the arrangements of the spaces. For one, the client wanted a two story dwelling. This poses many possibilities, but I chose to arrange a set back formation to allow for light to be able to reach the burrowed front rooms. I always feel like rigid rectangles based off of the golden section are easiest to start with. This gives me a bit of proportion to play with. After that I will move, twist, and transform it to match the site and my goals. The 45 degree torque is derived from the sites natural prevailing wind. The attempt is to mitigate that to a useful path in which the building will benefit.
Entering the space you walk up a few steps that crank you directly back into the hillside. After meandering through a dark and compressed tunnel, you go through the door and into the expansive space of the family room where the ceilings are tall and light is abundant. The private dwelling is sunk into the earth and as you walk down you can feel the architecture nestle you into its embrace. Looking out at eye level to the ground allows you to associate yourself with nature. Upstairs takes you around a winding corridor and releases you into light flooded spaces with clerestory windows.
For me, form often creates itself from a mix of function and gesture to the surroundings. I save two trees as you can see the terraced roofs are built around them. Obviously trees will die in the process of my disturbing the land and this is my nod at nature, saying I'm sorry, I've saved these for you. It is literally "embracing nature". I naturally design using massive plans to separate spaces and create unique opportunities within the volumes. I would imagine that these large massive planes are some type of easily manufactured and assembled panels that act almost like Lincoln logs as they are erected. My goal is to get as much light, air, and volume for as little as possible. Building into the earth presents not only a thermal insulation, but also a way to create vast gardens that can be used to absorb water, and grow vegetation.
The point of this house is to function, but not at the sacrifice that it is an uncomfortable living space. It is really challenging to apply so many techniques and methods to one design. I have a lot of good concepts, but I haven't even looked at the building envelop or materials which for me makes up half of the design challenge.
Some of my main goals are to create 1) a passive ventilation system for in the summer time. 2) solar gain for winter heat, as well as light in the cave like spaces. 3) Water harvesting to store and retain water for future use: radiant floor and fixtures. 4) Solar panels to use as not only source of electric, but also to heat the water heater.