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 2007-2008

Jamaica VT, Window-collector

Clients wishing to retreat for vacations to the top of a mountain in Jamaica, Vermont, sought to create an off-the-grid, off-the-well, and off-the-furnace shelter. This first scheme is intended to evoke the idea of impermanence, while in reality being a long term sustainable camp. Because the ground is all ledge, 9 steel bolts would be grouted into the rock to support the 3 tetrahedrons and floors spanning in between. A screened porch hangs off one corner for bug season, and a large deck extends the living space in summer and fall. Because the angled walls were thought too constraining, another solution was sought.

Clients wishing to retreat for vacations to the top of a mountain in Jamaica, Vermont, sought to create an off-the-grid, off-the-well, and off-the-furnace shelter. This first scheme is intended to evoke the idea of impermanence, while in reality being a long term sustainable camp. Because the ground is all ledge, 9 steel bolts would be grouted into the rock to support the 3 tetrahedrons and floors spanning in between. A screened porch hangs off one corner for bug season, and a large deck extends the living space in summer and fall. Because the angled walls were thought too constraining, another solution was sought.
The tent became a chamfered octagon with the largest side facing south, which required further nine footing points. Sliding barn doors were considered to close off the camp when not occupied, but were too obtrusive to the use of the outdoor space. In the first scheme water was to be collected into 3 tanks at the top of the pyramids; now it would be collected in one tank on the north. Because of the ledge, an underground location to prevent freezing was impractical. Also there was no easy way to add the screened porch.

The porch would extend off of one side on the southwest, making an implied space for the outside deck. The roof slopes from a high point over the sleeping loft to a low point over the end of the porch and extends slightly out to shelter a bit of the deck. Water from the upper 3/4 of the roof is diverted to an above-ground tank on the north, with the rest flowing to a point where is is collected in a rain barrel for gardening. The long south edged of the roof supports a wall of photovoltaics. The water tank is heavily insulated to the outside world, but thermally coupled to the interior for freeze protection. The wood stove is placed against this wall to boost the temperature of the water. The south facade windows and glass doors are a direct gain system using night insulation, but a small area of glazing on the east end of this wall collects hot air, the back of which is the DHW solar collector and small tank. In winter hot water will be heated on the wood stove. The outside finish will be a cement/sawdust board with a clear sealer, and the interior will be pine.

The longevity of insulating glass, and therefore its sustainability can be questioned. As an experiment six (4'x6'-6") south facing windows of the Foundation House sunspace, which have lost their seals, will be replaced by six combination window/solar collectors. Because the space only requires more modest exterior views than originally built, it is decided that one third of the present area of glazing is adequate with the remainder becoming collectors. The existing insulating glass will be disassembled, re cut, and reused. First the outer panel of 2 layers of glass is installed. The artificial wood frame contains vent slots top and bottom, the air entering the bottom and rising as it is heated between the two layers. The air is then drawn through the top slots by the photovoltaic driven fan and down across the black collector surface through a mesh and out into the sunspace through operable louvers (which close when the fan is off, preventing back-drafting of air.) The inner insulated panel and the inner glazing panel can be removed if necessary for cleaning. The system air openings are positioned to create a reverse feed and return, to insure an evenly distributed air flow.