earth sheltered passive solar designs

design northwest


manzanita residence

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The site for this home is sloped and south facing, ideally suited for an earth sheltered passive solar home, and the clients were eager to explore such a solution. The site layout required the primary entrance to be north facing, a challenge solved by using wing walls to both preserve the sense of entry and allow for earth sheltering. Given the full southern exposure, the correct placement of windows, with proper overhangs for shading, is critical in this home.

Concrete walls contribute to the thermal mass of the home. The clients were especially pleased with the elegant appearance of the finished interior concrete surfaces and beautifully contrasting fir trim. An additional interior feature is an open section in the floor that allows a live tree to grow inside the home – a testimony to the abundant natural light inside a passive solar home.

Supplemental heating is in the form of radiant in-floor heat rather than forced air heat. Natural circulation is facilitated by the two story open stairwell and balcony. Solar gain, stored in the thermal mass, in conjunction with the supplemental radiant heat is sufficient to keep the second story comfortable. The Manzanita home is a significant design for us because it confirmed that earth sheltering functions in a two-story structure.

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