As many readers may know, we Americans typically are oblivious to the geographic conditions in which we live – particularly when it comes to building our dwellings. Whereas living in Japan, you can see nearly every apartment block is built with the entrance on the north side, the apartment going all the way through to the south side, which is usually a set of glass sliding doors. This gets you the sun shining on the balcony and into the home, providing a good place for drying laundry and putting some nice direct solar heating into the apartment. On the other hand, the lack of insulation and single-pane windows means I’m currently freezing my buns off on this cloudy January day. But that’s beside the point.
Meet the EcoHat. Traditional houses are built with an attic that is stifling hot in summer, frigid in winter, and stores junk year-round. At Oxley Woods in England, Richard Rogers is designing a new type of home, one with what is essentially a modular attic that can be adjusted to fit the housing conditions. Following the graphic above, normal houses can only make use of solar energy when the sun is shining on the side of the house with the solar panels. With the EcoHat placed on the southern side of a flat or slanted roof, it can absorb heat all day. This allows for greater energy efficiency and a method for heating water. There are other design concepts that have gone into the homes, making them somewhat attractive, and somewhat reminiscent of an industrial park.
(via Matthew Yglesias)
2 thoughts on “Your attic – it’s not just for stashing junk anymore”
Sorry, I live in Japan as well and it doesn’t seem to me that all entrances to apartments are to the north. They are just as varient as anywhere else in the world.
In the Shonan area of Kanagawa where I live, the block apartments, where the unit is like a straight tunnel, have a balcony facing south (or as close to that direction as possible), with the entrance at the other end. Tower apartments, on the other hand, have an elevator in the middle and apartments ringing the outside. So obviously they’re not going to be all entering from the north.
But the buildings I’ve seen and lived in here seem designed to make use of passive solar heating via their balconies. Now I just wish they’d do something about the insulation.
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