The Royer Foyer

The Royer Foyer is a design invention which allows us to have a good view down a hill without rechanneling the flow of drainage or interrupting the purity of design of a shed roof. The Royer Foyer sneaks into the hillside rather than protruding from it. It makes possible a downhill view from windows that are all but concealed from neighbors.

The Royer Foyer is constructed by excavating a pie-shaped slice away from the house on a down side corner. This excavation is made from the side of the house, not from the true downhill wall as is the case with the First-Thought design. The excavation is pie shaped rather than perpendicular to the wall to allow flow of drainage so that no water is tempted to back up against either the house wall or the wall of the shoring of the foyer. If painted white the shoring wall acts as a light reflector throwing brilliant light into the house on sunny days during hours when bright sunlight might not otherwise enter.

When designed in conjunction with either clerestories or Offset Rooms in which the windows face the opposite direction of those of the foyer, or in conjunction with nearly any Uphill Patio, the Royer Foyer provides excellent balance of light and cross ventilation. Being set into the ground below true earth level the foyer is semi-sheltered from the winds. This lessens the amount of heat lost (chill factor) since the strongest winds cannot buffet the windows and doors, working their way through any available cracks.

Cover the open parts of the foyer with corrugated plastic or fiberglass and you have an automatic greenhouse much like the Uphill Patio greenhouse. The geothermal heat radiation from the floor and from the retaining wall, the heat loss from the windows and door, and the trapping of the sun's energy during the day should provide enough energy to keep the greenhouse warm during all but the extreme cold months. Even then, certain crops such as lettuce, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale and most of the root crops

might survive without any supplemental source of energy. If you were really intent on saving a delicate crop, such as tomatoes, during a cold spell, you could consider firing up the stove in the house a little more and cracking open the door. You might also consider throwing a tarp or hay or other insulator over the top at night. The retaining wall, if constructed of stone, could make an excellent heat retainer. A large stand up water tank lining that wall or fifty-five gallon water filled drums painted black could do the same. Again, as with the Uphill Patio, the foyer greenhouse should actually save you energy by keeping the heat down over your doors and windows much like storm windows.

The Royer Foyer offers a fine view downhill even if at somewhat of an oblique angle. In the wintertime even when it is a greenhouse it provides a refreshing view as opposed to the sometimes bleak winter landscape; how nice to look out the window and see green growing plants rather than foreboding winter skies. In much of the northern United States people cover their windows in the winter with an outside layer of clear polyethylene which serves nicely as storm windows, and lets through the light, but which always blurs the view. Better, we think, to look at a lovingly tended greenhouse garden than polyethylene.

There is one more real advantage to the Royer Foyer; through it you may enter your underground house without climbing up or down stairs. When you excavate the foyer just excavate at the same level as the floor of the house. Use the excess earth to build downhill terraces the same level.

Top photo: View out Royer Foyer (from author's bed.) Bottom photo: Royer Foyer from outside.

These tables are meant to be guides only, not the final word on your engineering problems. Consult them when designing and making posts, girders and beams so that you may work up material of sufficient girth. You are supposed to get competent individual engineering advice before building.

A structure built to these specifications will support the load of two feet of earth plus the equivalent of one foot of water (how much snow that equals depends upon how wet the snow is.) There is a certain amount of error computed into the tables so don't give up your project if your dimensions or materials don't exactly match what we have here.

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