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)