My Dream Home?
Would it be believable if I said this is my dream home? Ok, maybe not. It does though display several key elements which are the stuff of my particular architectural fantasy. It is no secret that I have pondered possible ways of adapting a standard “off the dealer lot,” mobile home into architecture. Further, if the difference between art and architecture is reality, also previously concluded, then this is art. Considered in such a light, this may contain humor but it is not a joke. What’s more, because it is on stilts, another big area of interest opens up. Aside from the characteristics of the piers, in this case concrete, there is all that space under the house, complete with promise and problems in similar measure. For now, let’s leave the promise to imagination, yours and mine, and take up the problems.
Doing What Air Does.
Before I get into a discussion of how a house on stilts might easily be kept warm and toasty in Northern winters, let me risk repeating, “I have a psychological aversion to creeping things crawling around under the house.” I like the idea of inserting some air. The space insulates and creates an experience by conjuring all manner of pleasant spacial opportunities. Opportunities, I think, worth pursuing, even in a cold climate. The obvious problem of course is all that cold air lurking under the warm house all winter long and looking to do what air does in this environment which is rise. Great in the hot summer, not so much in the winter. The subject is bandied and hashed over to a larger extent than could possibly be considered here. For an exhaustive discussion I happily sent the reader here. The general idea being that in order to keep out the cold it is necessary to super seal up every path of air infiltration and super insulate the floor, in that order of priority. To avoid freezing encapsulating the plumbing in a warm chase is also necessary.
Is There Anything New?
So what, one might ask is new here? The answer, of course, is nothing, until another of my favorite “responsible building” technologies is introduced into the mix. Consider what might be accomplished if the space under the house were used to store and distribute hot air, preferably but not necessarily, from a solar source, and further if the space were flexible, offering a source of cool air in summer a lot like what is done in my favorite Japanese OM Solar homes. In the end the solution is complex but maybe not so complicated. There are many after market products that might fit into such a system. Transpired solar collector panels, for example, are now available for residential use. Likewise heat storage might be provided by a prefabricated concrete slab or piers. Devising the air handling and distribution system might require and expert, preferably one who has tried something like this before. The house after all is quite little and the technology very big.