Susan & Bob’s passive solar House
The narrative creates an ancestry – the home’s exterior begins with “G6”, the fictive grandparents who built the original part of the home. All subsequent Gs added to the subsequent unfolding of the home. It’s 2007 and Susan and Bob want to create an interior as a departure of the traditional exterior frame of the home – a surprise as you enter!
Susan & Bob’s passive solar House faces due south, just set back into the first layer of deciduous trees fronting a meadow (to provide passive cooling in the summer) in the Lost River Valley of rural West Virginia. Curving along the south side, the home acts like a sundial with different rooms capturing the sun as appropriate for their use as the day unfolds.
Further passive solar design strategies are explored throughout the house, such as thermal mass via darkly stained concrete floors (with radiant floor heating for cloudy days) and a stone clad masonry stove (to burn freely available fallen trees).
For ambience and enjoyment for their many grandchildren (and as G6 would have built) their home also includes a “Rumford” fireplace. Rumford fireplaces are taller and shallower, thus throwing heat out into the room. Still, they are not desirable energy-efficiency wise – to alleviate most of its negative impact, we installed a double flue cap, providing fresh air intake and created a thermal break as the chimney extends out and above the roof. Such conditions and strategies are part of the myriad of design considerations inherent in the making of an ecologically responsive home.
Being in a very rural area, Susan and Bob wanted their home to be as fire-proof as reasonably possible. As such, the roof is metal (with high recycled content) and the exterior walls are from cementitious fiber.