the artistic possibilities
of designing with nature

Upcoming events

September 24, 2017
Active artists from the surrounding areas are invited to a group critique and barbeque on Sept 24th at 1:00.  Open to all interested artists.  Call 802 875 2194 or email us here to rsvp.
Design and construct the man-made environment to be in harmony with the natural environment.

Solar Work 1970-78

Grassy Brook Village

 

Grassy Brook Village was a heroic attempt on the part of the developer to create ten condominiums, clustered on a hillside in Vermont. Meant to embody all the energy saving methods available, the first scheme organized the houses around a circular court, tied together with a walkway. The manner in which the houses splayed created outside private decks. Remote arrays of collectors were to deliver solar heat. Then an alternate dome-enclosed scheme was developed which would provide a common passive and active system in the form of a greenhouse. The houses could be prefabricated with trailerized components which could be arranged differently to accommodate a variety of site conditions.

The dome scheme created a denser community, and allowed the use of rooftops for terraces and planting. The dome would create a much warmer "exterior" climate in winter, and with ventilation and shading, a normal Vermont climate in the other seasons. Excess heat in the winter from the solar gain would be stored in rock beds under the houses, and domestic hot water collectors would be located on the rooftops, or south facing walls.

The board of directors, however, decided after much deliberation that the dome might be too problematic to build and maintain. Additional a Federal DOE grant was available for the solar systems, but only if they were centralized and distinct from the buildings. The developer wanted to stick frame the houses, acting as the general contractor, which eliminated the prefabrication, although the layout of the houses remained very similar. The final design of the solar arrays by the mechanical engineers, became enormous, requiring a support system large enough that the houses could have been enclosed under the collectors, and was very expensive. All the units were framed and sheathed, with one unit finished as a presales model. Problems with delays in the Federal grant, combined with the inability to pay back the loans on time, destroyed the project. Eventually the entire project was demolished and the property sold.