29
Sep
09

Latitude Specific house

I’ve had this project on my mind throughout the semester.   After considering the  description of Project 2:  use 40 degrees latitude as the main site constraint, this house is worth a look.

The project is sited to take advantage of the sun’s angle, and specifically how this angle changes throughout the year.  The southern wall is composed of a plate glass sandwich with green parafin (wax) cubes inside.  On the exterior, a layer of prismatic glass is added.  This glass was custom made with 2 angles that correspond to the summer sun angle range of 40 degrees or greater, and the winter sun angle range of 35 degrees and lower.

Parafin Wall Detail

The hot summer sun is bounced away from the building, and therefore the parafin remains in a solid state and retains its dark color.  This keeps the interior cool and shaded.  Conversely, the winter sun at a lower angle is allowed to enter, melting the parafin into a transparent liquid.  This lets much-needed light and heat into the house during cold Swiss winters.

The concept would work in other latitudes, however the prismatic glass would have to be recalibrated to site-specific sun angles.

The house in Ebnat-Kappel, Switzerland is by architect Dietrich Schwarz.

For more info, check out:  Detail vol.6 (2002) pp 736-737.

and: Facade Construction Manual, p. 297

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