Indy house – Site location or “where should we put it”?

24 01 2008

To recap from the previous blog posts, the project we’re calling “Indy House” is a small accessory refuge we are proposing on the site of an existing home in Indianapolis. It’s purpose will be to provide artist studio space for a writer and a painter. Our purpose is to illustrate the discussions behind the decisions made in a sustainably designed home.

The ideas we’re developing are for a small prefab workshop-type building, about 250-350 SF, using the concepts of passive solar design to reduce energy costs and to let the little building live as lightly on the land as possible.

All of these considerations will influence the design envelope, material selection and will help establish the kit of parts for the modular space.

Let’s start by considering what the site offers from the available facts:


Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
Latitude: 39 degrees north
Longitude: 86 degrees west
Climate: Temperate
Elevation: 793′
The average winter temperature in Indianapolis is 33.7˚F (as compared with 38.5˚F here in good old Brooklyn) and the average summer temp is 72.1˚F (73.3˚F for us Brooklynites).

In order to consider designing a solar passive home, site location and orientation are key decisions for a successful project. It is essential that the southern facade has a full sun exposure at a minimum from about 9am -3pm. Given the site and parameters of the site in Indianapolis, there are 2 locations that best suit this orientation, one in the front yard and one in the rear yard. I am assuming that this project is not meant to be a welcome wagon for the neighborhood so let’s place the project in a sunny, south-facing area in the rear yard, see below. We’ll plant deciduous (leafy) trees at the South side which will shade the building from the heat of the sun in the summer and will allow solar heat gain in the winter. (click on the drawing to have it open in a new window – makes for easier viewing).





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