Two Different Perceptions

The growth of roads has produced simultaneous and conflicting views of Los Angeles. One perception comes from living in a neighborhood. The other comes from driving great distances on freeways. Both are essential for a complete understanding of life in the region. On one level, generally corresponding with walking or driving on surface streets, Greater Los Angeles has become a collection of separate and identifiable places. Some are cities in their own right such as Santa Monica, Riverside,...

Florida Guesthouse

A more up-to-date version of the adjustable screen is architect Paul Rudolph's design for a guesthouse. Lifted on stilts, and with an open plan, the scheme is typical for a warm and humid climate. What sets it apart is the surrounding cage with screens, adjustable for sunlight and ventilation. Florida Guest House Design by Paul Rudolph with surrounding cage and adjustable screens. (From Solar Control and Shading Devices by Olgyay and Olgyay 1957,120f.) Florida Guest House Design by Paul Rudolph...

The Spanish House

A Spanish Courtyard House. (Photo supplied by John S. Reynolds.) A Spanish Courtyard House. (Photo supplied by John S. Reynolds.) Spanish Toldo Closed and open. (From Courtyards Aesthetic, Social, and Thermal Delight by John S. Reynolds 2002,187) Spanish Toldo Closed and open. (From Courtyards Aesthetic, Social, and Thermal Delight by John S. Reynolds 2002,187) The traditional courtyard houses of southern Spain gain comfort by means that transform space by day and by season. John Reynolds has...

The Town

Lewis Mumford, the 20th-century urban historian and critic, observed that the change from village to town needed an outer challenge to pull the community sharply away from the central concerns of nutrition and reproduction a purpose beyond mere survival. And so it was with the town of Ashtabula Harbor, Ohio, on the southern shore of Lake Erie, that grew under the influence of Great Lakes trade. Ashtabula Harbor began with a single cabin, alone in the wilderness. Later, a village with its log...

The Farm

Farm rhythms measured the potential choices of a single family. Daily chores were central to the life of the farm family within these measured cadences most people expected to find their possibilities for self-fulfillment. The growth of the region presented new opportunities, but they emerged first at the circumference of established life, too remote for most people to be affected by them. The tempo of the early farm was uncontrived. Clocks were used, but chores were more a function of sunrise...

What Is a Solar Envelope

The solar envelope is not a physical thing. It is a set of imaginary boundaries, enclosing a building site, that regulate development in relation to the sun's motion. Buildings within this envelope do not overshadow their surroundings during critical energy-receiving periods of the day and year. The idea of an imaginary envelope is common to all zoning in the United States.3 Conventional zoning mostly uses an envelope shaped like a simple box with four sides and a top to establish setbacks and...

Study of Development Potential in Housing

Los Angeles is the location of a rigorous 10-year housing study of the solar envelope's development potential.7 The study sought to find an alternative to present housing practices, and to illustrate different ways Los Angeles can use the solar envelope in different circumstances. Actual sites were selected for their different land values, topographies, street orientations, and neighborhood characteristics to test the effectiveness of the envelope over a range of conditions. In most cases, the...

Ashtabula County Ohio

State of Ohio Ashtabula County, in black, is located in the northeastern corner on the shores of Lake Erie. State of Ohio Ashtabula County, in black, is located in the northeastern corner on the shores of Lake Erie. Ashtabula County, in the northeast corner of Ohio, typifies the ways American life has changed during the last two centuries. Settlers began to arrive in the late 1700s and, throughout the 1800s, the county gradually filled with small family farms. Villages emerged as complements to...

Light in the Church

The preceding examples are of ritual behavior linked with building design but not necessarily with the rhythms of nature. However, when rituals have been architecturally linked with complex natural rhythms, the union creates one of the most compelling circumstances for aesthetic expression. The medieval church offers an elaborate example of symbolic connections to nature's rhythms. From the darkness of early morning to late evening twilight, the cycle of daily change corresponded with the...

The Bedouin

The Bedouin of North Africa and Arabia follow desert rhythms. Having no permanent settlements, they carry lightweight, portable tents, following a way of life that has persisted at least since domestication of the camel around 1600 BCE.3 Keeping within their tribal areas, Ruwala families of Arabia spend the summer months near the Mediterranean Sea. In September, they move away from the sea to grasslands where they remain through the winter, camping near wells for periods ranging from a day to...

Off Site Combustion and Centralized Control

Recent technologies have allowed us to move the fire outside a building, sometimes to extremely remote sites, and send it back in different forms to heat, cool, and light our buildings. The heat of combustion has variously been converted to hot water, steam, and, most recently, electricity for cooling as well as heating. We have gained design choices but we have lost a powerful link with the rhythms of nature that traditional adaptations once celebrated. We do not have to revert to the old ways...

Moving from One Dwelling to Another

While some people are nomads carrying their dwellings with them, others travel on a regular basis from one permanent dwelling to another. Lisa Heschong describes the common tradition of a special summer place The British in India simply packed up during the hottest months and moved business, the colonial government, and all social life up to hill stations, towns in the Himalayan foothills where the air was cooler.10 In like fashion, New England families have long found relief from the summer...

The Separate Faces of Bratislava Slovakia

Jana Kepplova, a teacher and translator in Bratislava, Slovakia, describes how, each summer, her family moves from their apartment in a city high-rise to their rural dacha within walking distance of Brezova pod Bradlom, a village in the foothills of the western Carpathian Mountains. She explains that they occasionally make the trip for an ordinary weekend but it is the spring visit that stirs up the most excitement. But first I will set up a backdrop for her story. In the bitter cold of January...

Using Our Bodys Own Heat

A frosty leaf reminds us that everything in nature responds meta-bolically to alternations of heat and cold, of light and dark. In winter, the plant appears quite lifeless the juices stop flowing, the leaves lose color and dry up. In spring, life returns. This all happens automatically with the seasons. We expect to see it happen all around us all of the time. People playing in the snow on a cold winter day chemically convert energy inside their own body cells to stay warm. Of course, they also...

The Turkish House

Shutters are often used to stunning architectural effect in Muslim countries where privacy is considered especially important. A Turkish example combines fixed woodwork screens above adjustable shuttered windows. Viewed from outside, the result is a rich composition of varied shapes and textures. Inside, light moving through the screens reconstructs the rooms into conflicting daytime versions of themselves. Another example, of a single window, includes a central jalousie that slides up and down...

Standard Zoning Practices

Today, building boundaries are usually set in American cities by zoning policy using one of two different methods. The first estab- Building-Line Zoning (Top) Property-line setbacks (Bottom) Volume projected upward from setback lines. Building-Line Zoning (Top) Property-line setbacks (Bottom) Volume projected upward from setback lines. lishes fixed building-line setbacks in districts of common height and land use. The other, a much more flexible application, is used in what are called unlimited...

Need for Density

A change of land-use policies is needed to attain higher densities. Los Angeles is still spreading outward in vast tracts of detached houses at suburban densities of 5 to 7 dwelling units per acre (du ac) (12-17 du ha). At the same time, people are recognizing geographical and commute-time limits. Urban designers have long called for higher densities as a way to support diversified transportation and to bring workplace and home closer together. And recently, public officials have joined the...

The Village

Throughout the 19th century, villages arose as markets. Farmers needed a place to buy and sell crops and livestock and to buy things they could not provide for themselves. Villages appeared at the crossing of section roads, often near gristmills or sawmills on rivers. The early village might have contained a school, a church, a general store, a post office, a blacksmith shop, a cooper's shed, and, possibly, a factory for tanning hides or making cheese. Village rhythms measured the possibilities...

Comparison of Sites A and C

Sites A and C both run long in the north-south direction but different arrangements of surrounding properties alter envelope outlines. Generally, where streets touch the site, envelopes rise where mixed-use properties touch, envelopes drop. In any courtyard elongated in a north-south direction, people will generally find continuous choices for comfort just by crossing shadow boundaries, the direction and distance of movement corresponding with different rhythms. Seasonally, they will usually...

Machine for Living In

While the house and the church have traditionally been rooted in the complex counterpoint of nature, the machine has made our modern life temporally regular and spatially uniform. We are, by and large, disconnected from the rhythms that once gave rise to the rituals of both sheltering and worshiping. There has been a matching architectural celebration of machine-based living. One reason that has been given is the 14th-century invention of the mechanical clock.6 Up until then, everyday life was...

Looking to the Future

The benefits of solar-access zoning can be realized around the world. The results of the Los Angeles studies, done at 34 n, can apply directly to any city at approximately the same latitude either north or south of the equator. Some of these are Baghdad, Tehran, Kabul, Lahore, Osaka, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, and Santiago. For cities at other latitudes, the size and shape of the solar envelope will vary, but the basic principles hold. Investigations of the solar envelope have also been done in...

Comparison of Sites B and D

Interstitium Architcture

Sites B and D are both elongated east to west. Courtyards will also run east and west. Site B has streets on the north and east while site D has them on the south and west. It is important to note that illustrations for B and D use a different viewpoint from A and C. Illustrations for A and C showed views from the southeast, so that north in the pictures generally conformed to the orientation of site plans. However, to better understand building massing and courtyard-cover shapes for sites B...

Need for Solar Access Zoning

Interest in solar access generally rises and falls with the perceived security of oil supplies. A brief period of political and economic uncertainty during the 1970s and '80s prompted urgent calls to use solar energy in our buildings, towns, and cities, making solar access a critical issue in the United States. A number of cities and states passed legislation to protect existing solar installations and to ensure continued solar access for future developments. The federal government supported a...

Model for Solar Access

The model for the solar envelope is found in the ancient settlements of North America. Here, a thousand years ago, settlements were laid out for solar access. Acoma Pueblo, located on a plateau about 50 miles (80 km) west of modern Albuquerque, New Mex- Acoma Pueblo Terraced houses are well designed to absorb the low winter sun and protect from the higher summer sun. (Perspective drawing by Gary S. Shigemura in Energy and Form by Knowles 1974,27.) Acoma Pueblo Terraced houses are well designed...

Bibliography

Philadelphia Titus, Simmons and Titus. Bateson, Gregory. 1979. Mind and Nature A Necessary Unity. New York E. P. Dutton. Beatley, Timothy. 2000. Green Urbanism Learning from European Cities. Washington, DC Island Press. -2004. Native to Nowhere Sustaining Home and Community in a Global Beatley, Timothy and Kristy Manning. 1997. The Ecology of Place Planning for Environment, Economy, and Community. Washington, DC Island Press. Benfield, F. Kaid, et al. 2000....

Design Analysis Tool

Orientatino Solar Housing Analysis

The solar envelope provides architects and urban planners with a design analysis tool for understanding and implementing solar access to buildings for both passive and active systems, for solar heating, solar control, and day lighting. The solar envelope provides zoning for low-impact development and opens new aesthetic possibilities for both architecture and urban design. One of the chief objections to solar-access zoning has come from developers concerned with the loss of property rights. But...

The Indian House

The rhythms of life in southern India are set by the monsoon. While northwestern India is extremely dry, southern regions have a predominantly coastal climate with the Arabian Sea to the west, the Indian Ocean to the south, and the Bay of Bengal to the east. Most of the year is hot and humid with a cooler monsoon season starting toward the end of May and continuing until early September.8 Celebrating the monsoon's arrival evokes a series of distinctly Indian customs ranging from small, private...

Rhythmic Boundaries in Space

Spatial boundaries in the natural world have their own rhythmic character. For example, in the Owens Valley of California, where a 30-year precipitation cycle has been observed, separate plant communities advance and retreat. Yellow pine advances during wet years while chaparral advances during dry ones. The result is a region of mixing, a tension zone between the two plant communities where natural conditions are in constant flux. Rhythmic boundaries can be seen in nature at all scales. Almost...

Notes

Gregory Bateson, Mind and Nature A Necessary Unity (New York E. P. Dutton, 1979), 29, 68. 2. It is ironic that Thomas Edison, developer of the first electrical distribution system, unsuccessfully advocated local grids and local power plants rather than huge, far-flung systems. 3. Ralph Knowles, For Those Who Spend Time in a Place, PLACES 8(2) (1992) 11-14. 1. Ralph L. Knowles, Energy and Form An Ecological Approach to Urban Growth (Cambridge MIT Press, 1974), 1off. 2. W. A. Chalfant, The Story...

The French House

In southern latitudes, where protection from the hot sun is essential, louvered shutters are common. Saintes, an ancient town in southwestern France, has warm, humid summers and cool, wet winters. Here too, as in the Georgian house, a combination of devices maintains comfort. Inward-opening casement windows give protection from cold and rain. Outward-opening shutters Slovak Farmhouse Left Front door and window Right Window from inside. Slovak Farmhouse Window Some of the possible adjustments....