4 ways overhangs can add to your design

 In Design


The design for the recently completed Scotch Pine Residence inspired us to investigate the many capabilities that roof overhangs have to offer. Designed to be practical and visually engaging, the project led us to explore and appreciate the many uses for overhangs. From moderating the intense western sun in the summer while allowing the warmth inside in winter, to framing expansive views, here are a few ways we used them in this project.


1. Help keep interior spaces comfortable year-round. With several smaller windows protected by moderate overhangs to the east, the house is awakened by dabbled early morning sunlight, which warms the inner spaces up slightly. After this first splash of sunlight, only indirect light bounces from the adjacent ground to the underside of wood soffits – which diffuses warm, colored light to the interiors. The overhangs also protect the windows and outside walls from driving rains on a site with very high wind exposure.


2. Regulate direct sun exposure inside. The western orientation of the home and the emphasis on using floor to ceiling windows to open the house to panoramic views gave us the challenge of protecting the interior from the intense afternoon sun. To avoid overheating in the early autumn months, an undulating eight to ten foot deep roof overhang was designed to provide protection from the heat of the midday sun. Sunlight only reaches the interior in the late afternoon.


3. Provide protected outdoor spaces and an appealing exterior design element. At places, some overextended overhangs required the support of columns which help define the outdoor spaces. The structural supports, laminated in wood, give a strong sense of rhythm from the exterior as well as the interior. The same wood was used on the ceilings as well as the exterior soffits. The wood ceiling inside and out, creates a seamless visual transition between indoor and outdoor living spaces.


4. Frame panoramic views. To the west, the oversized roof overhang frames the distant view in a gentle undulation that follows the profile of the Rocky Mountains. With its curves and counter-curves, the overhang brings the scenery into focus.

With site appropriate design, overhangs can be both practical and appealing. The Scotch Pine Residence project page provides more information and photos on this project and the process of designing with overhangs. If you’re interested in passive solar design, here are some tips on passive heating and passive cooling.

 Gettliffe Architecture is a Boulder, Colorado architecture firm offering green design services from straw-bale homes to eco lodges around the globe. We believe that beautiful architectural design begins with careful consideration of earth, culture and community. Working with your ideas and vision, our team of green architects brings inspiring spaces to life that are kind to the planet and a pleasure to be in.
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