The hidden value of good design – House Aspect
Good house design takes many forms, some which you can see and admire, and many more which are hidden but provide you with comforts you enjoy without really thinking about them.
Most of us would associate design with how something looks, but design is also how something works most commonly referred to as functionality. Sometimes the function is not something that is easily noticed. This article is part one in a series we will produce explaining the hidden value of good design.
House Aspect – Which way does your house face? And why does it matter?
You might not realise how important the sun is in relation to the design of your house. A well designed house will take into account the orbit of the sun to make sure you get maximum all year round benefits.
The sun orbits low in the sky during the winter months, so allowing the sun to hit your kitchen and living areas early in the morning helps heat these areas for breakfast and at a time in the day where it is generally more chilly. The natural light saves on electricity, heats your house and research has shown, provides you with an energetic start to your day.
Passive Solar Design
Using the sun as a design consideration is referred to as “passive solar building design”. The sun during the summer months orbits higher through the sky for longer, creating more heat. Your house should incorporate design elements to cast shadows during the hottest part of the day to help cool your home, failing to do so will create a hot box and a large electricity bill.
What are the benefits of smart solar design and orientation practices? Ultimately, it means a more comfortable home to live in that is also cheaper to run. As an added bonus you’ll also reduce greenhouse emissions.
So what’s the best orientation for a house?
Building orientation refers to the way a building is situated on a site and the positioning of windows, roofline and other features. There are four key areas to consider when looking at the best orientation for your new home:
1. Light & Shade
Designing your home to be as efficient as possible begins with looking at how you position your main living areas – these zones are where we spend the most time in our homes. In this region the zones should be north to north east facing to capture maximum natural light and allow winter sun to help warm your home. Smart passive solar design will allow you to maximise the winter sun but limit the summer sun radiating in through your glazing.
- Ideas include positioning of eaves to reduce the summer sun but allow winter sun access and using deciduous plants and trees to provide summer screening.
- If neighbouring buildings are blocking sunlight consider using skylights, clerestory windows or internal courtyards to bring natural light into your home.
2. Prevailing Winds
Understanding the direction of prevailing winds in your region and designing the building to capture summer breezes allows hot air to move and escape. Examples include positioning windows to take advantage of rising hot air – breezes drawn into the house at lower levels creates a vacuum effect that pulls the hot air out through high windows. This works best with high celings.
Another example includes aligning doorways and windows to encourage effective cross flow of breezes through the home – aim to limit the amount of blocks that stop air flowing though.
3. Indoor Outdoor Flow
Design the living area to flow out onto the external living areas – both areas benefit from the same orientation and allows an easy flow between inside and outside. Outdoor entertaining areas located away from the main living areas tend not to get used much. Again deciduous planting can ensure you make the most of these areas all year round.
Another consideration is capturing the best views – maximising the site’s outlook and providing the best views possible from the house benefits both the occupants and potential resale value down the track if you look to sell. Not everyone has water and landscape views – sometimes it might just be positioning windows to look at the best parts of the garden