Passive Solar: Classic Problem Gets a Radical Solution

 In Sustainable Design

A view of the sun setting over Rocky Mountains is one of the most spectacular sights in Colorado, but this western sun also poses a spectacular problem for passive solar architecture.

So how do we offer our clients those magnetizing western views of the Rocky mountains without turning the whole house into a pizza oven?

We faced this classic question while designing our latest residential project.  Our clients wanted to enjoy their gorgeous mountain view which ran from Eldorado Canyon to beyond Long’s Peak.  However, the house faced south-west, west, and northwest, so overheating was a major concern.

This radical problem required a radical solution: we designed a nine foot overhang that runs along the entire undulating western side of the structure.  Of course, late in the afternoon the sun does eventually hit the vast expanse of western glass, but it is much weaker by that time of the day.

We took great care that none of the overhang would cut off the top of the mountain view.  This was no place for the “baseball cap effect”.    Our solution took a great deal of steel and innovative engineering, but we created a deep roof overhang completely free of columns.

The radical overhang actually enhances the expansive mountain view by cutting off the immense sky overhead.  Like a photographer, it tightly frames the view of the Rockies and focuses your attention on the subject creating a well framed ever-changing sky-line.

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