Inga's House/DesignSpecifications/DustinsSuggestions

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8th of June, 2009 - First Response to Ingas Design Requirements

I am architect and as such I think we have to structure the entire process a little, as we otherwise risk to miss the point, but the challenge is big:

we should divide general considerations from concrete site specific ones as a start, but also then work out general building advice and specific indications for Inga's house. as I can see this has already been started.

general considerations: 

  • 100% natural building components that are to be realised with low tech open source technology: 

so we talk about mud, straw, timber, bricks, some glazing will eventually be necessary, etc.

  • other general considerations could be linked to the construction technique used, as each material has specific

requirements, problems and advantages!

  • then the building size and orientation should be looked at as lots of energy can be saved in this way, i

would say.

but to more site focussed topics

1) Inga was asking Mr. Hecken (see the video about constructions in Africa

"All your buildings are located in very hot climate Zones. 
Ours is in a moderate climate zone similar to Alps.
If heat or cold, houses need insulation.
How do you handle the problem?
A member of the ground team in Missouri suggested to use polyurethane foam
or something similar (see [ ]
but I am totally opposed. This does not comply with our philosophy!

I would definitively not want to live on some kind of a foam to isolate from the ground, unless one uses foam all over!! but I guess you have already decided not to use it!!

it is not very natural and second, any rain water could eventually damage the building, especially if it is made of sun dried bricks. As we discussed in Vienna, a thick layer of rocks would be a good and simple platform for the building to rest on, or in alternative a construction that permits air to circulate under the building, but at the same time prevents water to get there (pipes??)

air is a fairly good insulation.

I alternative one could also use a simple 'concrete slab' but as Missouri is comparable with Carinthia, I am not sure if this would be really that simple and sustainable.

even in such a simple questions there are many options!!

2) Inga is raising doubt if the people at FeF will be able to construct a dome 
"....Marcins opinion: "A round vault is much easier than a round dome
(only round in one direction)".
Without knowing much, when I described my wishes
for the house I said it should have 7 by 7 meters
or something like 45 to 5o squaremeters."

well, it might be very tough to go for a dome (circular!!) on a square (7x7m) house,

I would suggest either a circular house and a dome ore opt for two vaults, resting on some kind fo a central load bearing structure, which could also be an arch??

or else another option would be to have two vaults intersecting in the centre, but again a lot of skill required??

3) use sundried bricks without protection??

I would say that some of the African and Jemenite experience of beautiful historical buildings that due to NO maintenance are disappearing, due to rain in winter and drying in summer!

Francis buildings  [ ]   do show and alternative, a big roof that prevents bricks from exposure to rain etc, but would also be good to collect rainwater, prevent the building from overheating in summer, getting the air to circulate underneath, and also be the right means (the cantilever can be calculated due to the sun inclination see: [ ]

for 21.December as the shortest day with an inclination of 23.84° (sounds really very flat!!), and see:

[ ]

for 21.June as the longest day with 70.72 °, so in gthis way we can determine the cantilever of the roof to shade in summer and let the heat in in winter!!

so, this is a little start from my side and a sign that I am around. will be happy to sort of get some sketches done to explain and assemble the ideas as we move on, but I am also still trying to catch up with all the information available as I was away for 10 days!!

I don't want to sound to pragmatic, but in order to make all this open source I guess a lot of structure is needed as every body is sitting at some angle and we are to realise Inga's house first, but a lot of this will also be of great help to my own project in Africa, and I guess many others to follow!!

looking forward to hear more,



9.June.2009 Further Suggestions for Floor Plan

considerations to floor plan: as a dome on a square plan could be difficult to build and from the acoustical point of view maybe troublesome!! reflections of any sound always gets back to the centre!!

suggestion: build in two phases two rectangular shapes, ex.3,5 x 7 meters each with a vaulted roof, this would enable building in phases, divide functions within the flat, experiment more . . .



10.june 2009 considerations to materials

following to a series of materials suggested from various sides, Inga and I have been re-thinking this: initial idea is to realise buildings with appropriate materials on a low-tech (something sort of anybody can find and use) where possible!!

materials we think are fine:

- natural resources: clay, straw, timber, stone, to be continued . . . as primary building material!

- technical products: glass, steel, metal, natural composites, to be continued . . . as secondary building materials (where necessary, and ideally in a way that re-use and re-cycling works 100%!

- NO-products: are any products that can be substituted by something more natural, easier available, etc.

>>> this can imply more design oriented solutions, and will also generate good architecture and be innovative because simple and honest!