|Now things were getting serious on the house design. I
was showing the preliminary design around a lot, and I was starting to
think more about the observatory (upper level loft area). I wanted
to see the house in 3D, but none of the 3D home design programs I'd bought
could handle the flat/pitched roof combination. I decided that I
needed to break down and build a REAL 3D Model. I'd previously
laminated the preliminary design drawing so I decided to build the model
right on top of this.
|I headed off to the local craft store, and purchased a stack
of 1/4" and 1/8 balsa wood (for 12" and 6" walls), a steel
rule and Exacto-knife. I started with the rear retaining walls and
worked forward. Since the plan was laminated, I could assemble the
balsa on top without fearing that it would stick I figured that
cutting openings for doors and windows would have made the model flimsy,
so I decided I'd stick colored paper cutouts on later.
| I had recently shown the plan to a builder at
Deep Creek Lake. The first thing he told me was that the BOCA code wouldn't
permit me to just have a ladder up to the observatory. BUMMER !! So
when I came home I started thinking of options. I always thought the
curved space behind the kitchen was somewhat wasted so I started thinking
about how I could use it to solve my access problem. I quickly came to realize that by pushing the
observatory wall back towards the rear of the house, I could extend this
curved space up to the high ceiling and therefore open up space for a
|My initial thoughts were to leave out the floor altogether
in this section to create a cathedral space with a staircase in the center,
but, that would prevent us from sitting at the rear windows and watching
the wildlife up-close and personal. I settled for an oversized
staircase opening surrounded with a narrow balcony suitable for fitting with window
seats. Since I gained some floor area with this new layout, I could
pull back the front edge of the balcony (over the breakfast bar) which
would enable natural light from the clerestory windows to illuminate the
kitchen area. I can imagine some automated reflector above these
windows which would enable them to be made opaque, or could be used to
direct the light straight down.
|Since corridor width will still be limited behind the kitchen and
I do want these rooms to be wheelchair accessible, I'm thinking of a neat
design that enables the upper half of the spiral staircase to protrude
into the kitchen area (above the rear counter) where headspace is not
critical. Another benefit of this new layout is that light can also
enter the curved area behind the kitchen, and the kitchen itself..
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An exercise in Energy Smart, Not So Big living.
www.OurCoolHouse.com - Ideas@OurCoolHouse.com
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that makes maximum use of earth sheltered design, passive solar heating and cooling,
geothermal exchange energy management, and right sizing of the house for it's designated use.
The home's placement is on a south-facing hillside in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland.
This site describes the design process, the technologies used and the expected results.
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