Articles tagged "glass panes"

10 errors to avoid when designing your sustainable home plan layout: part 6

First-time modern home builders soon realize that, while their spaces look great, they have nowhere to put stuff. From Le Corbusier's first fancy modern buildings until today, the problem of home storage has been avoided by architects in favor of sleek design. Apart from basic usage areas like kitchen, sitting area, office, every house needs those additional spaces specifically purposed for storage. Built-in storage is also a great way to avoid hallways. Any mismatch in the way walls meet up can become the perfect storage room. But watch out, built-in storage becomes a fixed feature of the room: try to keep your layout flexible enough that you can still use the room if its function changes.

10 errors to avoid when designing your sustainable home plan layout: part 5

Head bumps at the end of the staircase.

I live in such a house with my very tall boyfriend, so I speak from the heart. When drafting in 2D, some elements seem obvious, but when you build them, surprises occur: the space above the last steps of the staircase is very often the main culprits here. The trick is to simply be aware of this when drafting stairs and, if you can, draft your plans in 3D to be sure you have enough space to get upstairs. (she whispers in your ear: "come, book a session")

Blessed are the souls who build in the tropics! For they do not know the contradictions we face up North.

Features that will help against the summer heat will hinder the fight against the cold. Obviously. The only help we have is the Sun, gracefully changing angles as the seasons move. In following that change, we can use it and have unmovable features of the house change their use as the Sun moves. A classic: eaves just big enough to let the sun in when it's low in the sky and keep the sun out when it's high.

But there are other things that can't change behavior as easily. Big windows and openings will loose heat in the winter no matter what. West facing windows that are great for wintery afternoons will for sure transform your living room into an oven in August at the same time of day.

A way I can think of to combat this is flexibility. Having elements that you can adapt to the situation. Even better, elements that adapt themselves, depending on smart sensor readings. Shutters that close themselves when it's getting under a certain temperature. Vertical louvers that move with the sun. Like thermostats but better.

We now have the technology to do all of this in the blink of an eye. We can even control air humidity and purity, lights, hot water, and give you all the stats on your phone. I love all of this, even though I see the loss of poetry that we risk in going too far.

I read a while ago a beautiful book called Ritual House and the little magic of houses swaying with the …

10 errors to avoid when designing your sustainable home plan layout: part 1

Drawing to scale is an acquired skill and drafting by hand is, for a beginner, the best way to make rooms way too big. The generosity of the enthusiastic designer will give each bedroom at least 20% more space than it actually needs and the living room the proportion of a football stadium. So be sure to check your dimensions often and don't forget to furnish the rooms, even in the first drafts. Furniture will make big empty areas stand out. It will also give you a first glance at the circulation flows of the layout.

Try to avoid non-allocated space, but also stay away from too-small spaces, especially in the bathroom and kitchen area. Tip: When drafting your layout by hand, you can cut bits of paper to size for your main furniture elements. You can move them around your puzzle and play with them. Their presence also intuitively gives you a sense of how much space you need when drawing up a new room.

Quick visualization exercise: imagine you have all the money you might ever need. You also have your dream house. 

It's a big Mediterranean villa overlooking the sea, with an enormous pool throwing ripples of sunshine back at you while you sip on a Martini. OK, piña colada if you prefer. 

There's a gardener coming every week to manage the rose garden. Inside, there's a double ceiling over the living area, with a passerelle (fancy word for bridge) for bedroom access. You've always wanted a passerelle. It's a sort of suspended bridge above the loft. Fancy.

The high-tech kitchen has all those gadgets you've drooled over when watching cooking shows, like double ovens and rotisserie devices with many settings. The dinning room overlooks the garden. There's floor-to-ceiling glass panels. The air conditioning is running constantly in the summer heatwave. 

The heating runs all winter as well. The glass panels are sucking all the heat out. All the heat rises in the double ceiling, so the passerelle is the warmest place in all the house. 

The pool is wasting water from the communal reservoir, even though this season has had worse droughts than ever. In the winter the chlorinated water will be flushed and the pool walls cleaned. It's so hot that the gardener is using chemical solutions once a month to get rid of the algae. It smells weird. You don't bathe in it.


It always ends up like this for me when I do this exercise. My ecological anxieties just bubble up …

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