Creating a building is like solving a Rubik's Cube – if you make a change in a single aspect, it might impact many other aspects, so you go through various iterations to reach a perfect solution – for a given space and given requirements of a client. I love this process and today I’m going to share with you an example of step by step “architectural Rubik's Cube” solution for a private residence (upto a stage called “draft or initial design”).
Location is NCR (North India). Given the extreme climates in this part of the country, the client wants his home to be built in such a way that inner space is protected from direct sun & heat in the summer, from extra moisture in the monsoon time and from cold in the winter. At the same time he wants his house to be open to the nature… Is it possible? Hmmm… let’s see…
But before we begin, it has to be mentioned that India is a vast country with various climate zones such as:
Hot & dry (you feel very hot most of time of the year and there is very little rain you can enjoy).
Warm & humid (you are sweating a lot)
Composite (both of above things + cold for some part of year)
Cold & cloudy (you are freezing and miss the sun)
Cold & sunny (you are freezing but enjoy sunshine)
So here I’m going to talk about the building in composite climate to which New Delhi and NCR belong.
Ok, here we go.
Building orientation. by Katerina K.
1. First, I orient the building according to Equatorial orientation. Oops, what does it mean? No worries, I just made longest facades to face the north and south. Why? It minimizes morning and afternoon sun heating impact.
In the summer sun stands high above the horizon and direct light cannot reach southern facade. Northern façade stays without sun and provides desired coolness. Low winter sun warms southern facades and makes it comfortable to stay in when outside temperature is dropping down.
2. I made building body not wide but lengthy one– this shape helps to increase natural cross ventilation which helps to reduce inside rooms’ temperatures and humidity as well.
Wind flow. by Katerina K.
3. In general, one should always remember about wind, it can cool your walls down and make good natural ventilation inside.
When the wind meets the walls it creates place of higher pressure. Opposite wall in this case has lower pressure. This pressure difference pushes the air in your house through the windows and doors gaps and moves it inside from the windward side to the leeward side.
For the best cross ventilation, I located main entrance door on the high pressure side (windward). Other doors and windows location also helps wind go freely throw the house.
Common and private areas of the house. by Katerina K.
4. A courtyard inside the house helps not only improve its cooling and ventilation but also separates different common and private area creating nice buffer place for rest and play.
With courtyard shape of the building changed – two long house parts: common and private blokes, united by courtyard, made it squarer like.
Ground floor rooms location - draft. by Katerina K.
5. Now rooms location…
a) Master bedroom & guest bedrooms better to be on the south as these rooms have no direct sunlight in summer and only early morning and late afternoon sunlight in winter. East is also a good location because rooms get heat only in the morning till noon but as my client wakes up early and likes morning sun in winter let him enjoy it!
b) Living room and Dining room are on the north part of the building as they are used during the day and should remain cool.
c) Kitchen I put on the north on the leeward side, so there is no cooking smell and hot air circulation.
d) Inbuilt Garage with small window I located on the west which improves thermal barrier for the sun heat.
6. As later on my client decided to have second floor as well, I located stairs next to the main entrance on the place of the guest room, which was moved to the master bedroom place. It means that all first floor became common area and private area with master bedroom and other private rooms were moved to the second floor. Yep, changes again ;)
Ground floor rooms location - final. by Katerina K.
7. Doors and windows got more detailed features. As you can see on the picture main door became triple sliding doors. When they are open living and dining area are united with outside lawn as there are no walls in between. Same trick I used with all bedrooms doors which face backyard with a pond. Let habitants enjoy nature as much as they can ;)
First floor rooms location - final. by Katerina K.
8. When you come upstairs to the second floor you will find yourself in a library which leads to the master bedroom through the open air breakfast nook. Master bedroom with bathroom and study is located on the south, surrounded by large multipurpose terrace, which works as a shading for the ground floor and has its oun sunshade as well.
9. I suggest putting trees like Neem, with good shading abilities, on east and west sides of the building as it creates nice shadow, collects dust and breaks strong wind. As large trees roots can damage house foundation, I did not put it too close to it (3 meters is minimum distance).
At the same time trees and plants can increase air humidity during monsoon time so I did not put too many of them inside the courtyard.
Shape of the roof. by Katerina K.
10. Unusual wave like shape of the roof prevents extra overheating of the second floor from above by its white color and elements inclination. As you can see there is special sunshade system covering all terrace which is reducing exposure to direct ultraviolet rays while allowing for ambient day lighting.
11. Btw not only the roof but all house is painted white. As you know, white color reflects solar energy while dark – absorbs. It means that white colored house is “cooler” then dark one. ;0
12. As a building material I used concrete. Good insulation for roof and walls is needed in this case as concrete conducts heat easily.
Double glazing insulation. By Katerina K.
13. And one more important thing – as I used glazing a lot I suggested to client to increase insulation quality of the clear glass by double-glassing of the doors & windows.
Between glass layers can be an air or low-conductive gases like argon and krypton (or mix of two).
There are special high insulation window glasses as well, like absorbing and reflecting glass available in the market. In this case one layer of glass is enough.
Final result. By Katerina K.
14. As you can see,final design is fresh and unique irrespective of multiple requirements of it.