Archive for the 'Plans' Category

Moving the living room…

Sunday, November 4th, 2007

Another update. Fiona came up with the bright idea of moving the main living area from the centre to one side of the upper floor. It’s a move I’ve resisted before because the living area just seemed so right there in the centre with views out of its own South window and those of the rooms on both sides – and indeed the new placement does limit the view slightly (partially offset by increasing the size of the East window) – but against that the new design does bring some significant advantages:

  • Improved flow: the stairs now come up to an open space leading to kitchen, bathroom, deck, dining room and living area.
  • Better kitchen layout: no need for the galley-style kitchen
  • Easier zoning for the living area: just one side wall to close off


Sketchup model of south-facing passive solar house design - 28 October 2007

Sketchup model of south-facing passive solar house design - 28 October 2007


Overall I think the benefits are just too good to ignore. New images and model are available under the same terms as before – Creative Commons “Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike” license.

Released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license

Download Sketchup model (13MB)

To view the model you’ll need to download the free viewer from Google Sketchup.

Yet another “latest design”

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

Apologies to any avid readers (!) for the long delay updating this blog. In short, not much real progress but the design continues to change and develop (we hope for the better!).

Some of the wackier elements of earlier designs have gone, leaving a simpler, mostly rectangular shape which is perhaps less interesting but certainly more practical. We’ve also looked more closely at zoning and arranged for the main living areas to be isolated as far as possible from the external walls. The main bedroom has now moved downstairs because we couldn’t make enough room upstairs for the living area we wanted while the bedroom was also there – this allowed us to position the main living area in the centre of the upper floor with as wide a view as possible through the lake-view windows along the entire south side of the building.

Also featured here, some furniture (from the Sketchup components library and scaled to fit the size of our own, although the style isn’t really what we’d choose!) and surface textures, so it begins to look almost realistic…

South-facing Australian passive solar house (24 September 2007)South-facing Australian passive solar house (24 September 2007) South-facing Australian passive solar house (24 September 2007) South-facing Australian passive solar house (24 September 2007)

This latest post is particularly for our friends Steve and Manisha – hope you’re enjoying the rest of your holiday and if you’d like to see the current version in its native Sketchup form please download the free viewer from Google Sketchup and the model here:

Released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license

Download Sketchup model (13MB)

For anyone else who may be interested, please note that our design (available here in the form of a Sketchup model) is released under the Creative Commons “Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike” license. This means, briefly:

  • If you are designing your own home and want to use this as the basis for your design you’re welcome to do so.
  • If you wish to distribute this design or any of your designs based on it, you may do so provided you give us credit as original authors and release your design under the same terms as these.
  • But if you’re a designer or architect and want to use this as the basis of your client’s house design (commercial use) the license does not allow this – please contact us to discuss commercial terms.

For full details see the Creative Commons License page.

More screen images of the current Sketchup design

Saturday, June 24th, 2006

June 2006 design

A few more images of the latest house design…

3D plans - ground floor

Ground floor showing central hallway and staircase, laundry and library on the left (West), 3 bedrooms and bathroom.

3D plan fo first floor
First floor showing kitchen / dining / living room on left (West), Master bedroom, ensuite and walk-in robe.

3D plans - Roof

Roof showing raised section over void – for maximum solar gain in Winter and ventilation in Summer. The sides of the raised section are openable in all directions to release warm air rising inside the house.

Sketchup

Thursday, June 22nd, 2006

We spent a while testing out house-design drawing packages with limited success – most seemed to be either full 3D solid-modelling CAD systems with a learning curve like the North face of the Eiger or trivial little 2.5D* “My new home designer” software that would limit you to little more than a simple box.

Then a post on a forum somewhere lead us to Sketchup. We downloaded the free trial (full program, limited to 8 hours use), watched the training videos and were just amazed by how powerful and yet easy to use it is. It’s not a full CAD package – rather (as the name implies) a 3D sketching tool but it’s so versatile and intuitive to use that true 3D models just grow before your eyes!

Nice as the interface is, the real killer app for us is the shadow generation – enter the location of your property (longitude and latitude), choose a date and let the program instantly calculate the sun’s position through the day. Drag the time slider across to see how sunlight and shadow change from dawn to dusk, or set a time (eg. noon) and watch how the sun’s position changes through the seasons. After seeing this, how could anyone attempt to design a passive solar house without it?!

To be honest we were a bit reluctant to get too attached to it at first because the purchase price for the full version was Au$705 – high enough to make us think twice! – but in the context of designing and building a new house well worth it. So back in March we went ahead and bought a copy… and at almost exactly the same time Google bought the company (@Last Software) for “an undisclosed sum”.

Now I see Google has released a new version, like most Google products free for personal use: Google SketchUp free. If only we’d waited a little longer! Oh well, it was worth it, and the price of computer hardware and software is falling all the time (not usually quite that fast though!). And perhaps the free version is limited in some way. I’ll install a copy on the laptop and find out…

I’ll be putting up some screen dumps of the Sketchup design, and the model file itself if anyone’s interested. Here’s a preview:

Sketchup model house design as at 18 June 2006
* 2.5D – Two and a half dimensions – ie. you can draw out the layout of each floor, set a ceiling height and stack the floors on top of each other. The problem is: what if you want different parts of the floor at different heights, or voids with windows extending up two storeys, or indeed anything vaguely out of the ordinary…

The south-east corner cut-off design developed

Saturday, March 11th, 2006

11 Mar 06 designThe south-east corner cut-off design developed internally while keeping the same outline.

Upstairs the ensuite is looking good. downstairs we move the 4th bedroom to the north side with the bathroom in the middle of the east side (this loses the view from bed 4, but does make for a neater design overall).

Still thinking…

Both south corners cut off…

Monday, March 6th, 2006

6 Mar 2006 designStill playing with alternative layouts – what if both South-east and South-west corners are cut off?

In effect the living areas are now facing South-west. One problem is that we now have exposure to western sunlight – potentially a serious problem in Summer.

Worth thinking about but it seems that this one may not be worth pursuing…

South-east corner cut-off design

Sunday, March 5th, 2006

5 Mar 2005 designAn alternative and perhaps more practical way to redistribute the spaces. By cutting off the south-east corner we provide extra views (including lake views to all 4 bedrooms) and a better flow around the living areas…

Bed 4 has been cut off from the private bathroom access.

The central core acts as sun-trap and ventilation tower. The thermal mass wall (shown in red) accepts direct solar gain and heats the surrounding rooms.

Extended south-west corner design

Saturday, March 4th, 2006

4 March 2006 designTrying to make a little more space by extending the living area outwards… The master bedroom now has a “retreat”. Not sure whether we really need this (or the extra space).

The central core acts as sun-trap and ventilation tower. The thermal mass wall (shown in red) accepts direct solar gain and heats the surrounding rooms.

Ensuite moved to south design

Tuesday, January 10th, 2006

10 Jan 2006 designTwo revised designs for the master bedroom, walk-in robe and ensuite. Can we arrange a spa-bath in front of the view?!

The central core acts as sun-trap and ventilation tower. The thermal mass wall (shown in red) accepts direct solar gain and heats the surrounding rooms.

8 Jan 2006 design

Sunday, January 8th, 2006

8 Jan 2006 designExtending the passageway idea, we now try to give beds 2, 3 and 4 private access to the downstairs bathroom. The laundry moves to the north-west corner.
The central core acts as sun-trap and ventilation tower. The thermal mass wall (shown in red) accepts direct solar gain and heats the surrounding rooms.