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cheriebeazq 02-26-2011 06:07 AM

How to design a single story house in a impressive way?
Im an 1st year architecture student. Im designing a timber eco house (a studio *** living room, kitchen *** dining room, toilet and bedroom) for my client which is a green architect (Wong Mun Summ, Singapore).

RobertSmalls 02-26-2011 08:14 AM

You'd probably need to ask the client what sort of things impress him. If he's merely interested in looking green, then a log cabin with visible mud cement, unfaced strawbale insulation, and a centrally located firepit is a fine choice. Place the house on the north side of the street and put solar collectors on the roof. The key is to make sure everyone can see the differences between his house and a conventional one.

If he's actually interested in being green, otoh, then he'll probably want something built to the Passivhaus standard. I'd start with R13 windows, R50 walls, near zero air infiltration, and a ventilation heat exchanger. A Passivhaus can be built with a peak heating load of 1W/ft². Place it on the south side of the street so the large, south-facing windows give free heat and lighting in addition to some privacy. Light colored walls and floor covering carry the light into the house better.

I favor the "country kitchen" layout, which uses the kitchen table not only as space to eat and entertain guests, but also as a way to divide the kitchen from the living room. A 300ft² home should be comfortable and not at all crowded.

euromodder 02-26-2011 12:17 PM

Build a dome - if building regulations will allow you.

Thymeclock 02-26-2011 10:24 PM

Read Walden by Thoreau.

If you were to re-create Thoreau's cabin it would be impressive. But I doubt that it would be what you have in mind.

j12piprius 02-26-2011 11:44 PM

I'd build a passive solar home with concrete block mass walls inside, south facing windows to the front, the back into a hill on the north, concrete floors, walkway/hall through the south side just inside of the windows, and wood stove right in the middle of the house.

I'd use concrete block for the exterior too, but since you want timber, that is fine. It will have a greater fire hazard though and won't store any heat. However the interior mass walls and floor are most important for storing the heat.

I'd definitely have a standing seam metal roof, that way you can use the water, and be totally independent with water, depending on the climate. An underground concrete cistern would be a big plus.

skyl4rk 02-27-2011 09:42 PM

add a thermal attic

Thermal Attic - Building Design for Solar Heating and Natural Cooling

JasonG 02-27-2011 10:10 PM

I second the earth sheltered/underground answer. With some south exposure there will be no need for heat or AC if he manages the blinds.

Ryland 02-27-2011 11:23 PM

Insulation is indeed key, so is minimal surface area, domes give you that but they make poor use of the space and unless you have free skilled labor they cost alot to finish, at least the one I worked on did and it was cramped for the size of space it was (5,000sf) because so much space inside of it is nearly impossible to use.

Keep your window count low, most of your light comes from the south so most of your windows should be on the south but windows are also your greatest heat loss so they need to be good windows and if they don't fit with the space then you are stuck making the space bigger to work around the windows because not everyone wants to feel like they are living in a fish bowl.
Light tubes bring in alot of light for the size, sky lights cost alot, they are a cold spot in the house, they tend to leak and they don't bring in as much light as a light tube for the space they take up.
Every house has utilities and they should be as close to the demand as possible, so the water heater should be in between the bath room and the kitchen, personally I would do a slab on grade then do a pit basement for the utilities, that way your water heater and furnace or back up heat source are not taking up living space but are instead under a trap door under the living space, a 10x10 foot room should be plenty.

RobertSmalls 02-28-2011 05:59 PM


Originally Posted by JasonG (Post 222610)
...if he manages the blinds.

Or if you install automated blinds. :thumbup:

rmay635703 02-28-2011 06:23 PM


Originally Posted by JasonG (Post 222610)
I second the earth sheltered/underground answer. With some south exposure there will be no need for heat or AC if he manages the blinds.

Combine that with the castle like Cordwood building method on the outer walls and you have a winner.

ih8winter 03-03-2011 08:41 AM

I am currently building my own home all by myself (wife helped). My home is only 28x32 plus full basement but feels much larger because of the high ceilings. I made a walkout basement but oriented it towards the road. She looks like a big 2 storey from the road, and people often refer to it as that big house on the hill. Use height to trick the eye, but try to keep everything to scale. High ceilings do require fans to push the heat back down, but I do prefer "moving air" to stagnent air. Feels more comfortable and even to me. My house isn't really an eco house because of local laws and costs I couldn't afford, but it is currently heated with only 2 1500 watt 120 volt heaters that cycle on and off even at -20 celsius. Lots of windows but the blinds are closed when the son goes down. Keep in mind that with such a small space that heating and cooling will be affected by waste heat from appliances like fridges and tvs etc.

erice1984 03-12-2011 11:58 AM


Craig 03-14-2011 07:41 PM

Get a subscription to Home Power Magazine Home Power Magazine: Solar | Wind | Water | Design | Build for lots of great information and insight on energy-efficient design. I'm currently consulting with a housewright on my next home: Larsen Truss frame with 12" walls (R-42 with blown-in cellulose insulation), R-60 ceiling, passive solar slab (insulated from the ground and foundation perimeter), and 2 kwh of PV's and a solar DHW heating system.

bmten 09-18-2011 01:24 AM

What to do that is cost effective, comfortable, and prevents mold here in Alabama and Florida is different from what should be don farther north.

shenglu 09-20-2011 01:41 AM

I would use concrete blocks look too, but because you want wood, is fine. But this will have a greater fire hazard, and does not store any heat. However, the internal quality of the walls and ground heat storage is the most important.

n7mog 09-30-2011 07:29 PM

I'm still of a mindset for earth sheltered homes. Low maintenance, low energy sustainment costs, comparable construction costs. Google earth sheltered homes...they don't have to be dome-shaped, but simple physics says that shape should be incorporated. They can be built anywhere, and will all reap the future benefits of good planning and longevity. That being said, concrete and steel are the best shell materials. Inside can be whatever your heart desires. I suppose, mentioning that a properly sealed house of this type also requires an air exchanger.

botsapper 09-30-2011 08:00 PM


Originally Posted by cheriebeazq (Post 222312)
Im an 1st year architecture student. Im designing a timber eco house (a studio *** living room, kitchen *** dining room, toilet and bedroom) for my client which is a green architect (Wong Mun Summ, Singapore).

Before putting down any line, there are some site criteria we need to assess. The 'machine', that is the structure needs to address the geographical location, climate/seasonal conditions, foundation, etc or simply a thorough architectural site analysis. When we know that then we could create something appropriate for its climate zones/geography. From there, the technologies, visual aesthetics, eco-green materials and cultural styles could go any direction.

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