Tuesday, August 11, 2009
The Modern Dogtrot
Before the air conditioner came into common use less than four generations ago - that's the home where your great-grand parents grew up - buildings were designed to condition themselves. The American Dogtrot is a prime example.
(The photos are of a typical 150 year old dogtrot.)
Raised off the ground with a central open breezeway, the dogtrot house cooled itself naturally by encouraging air movement around, through, and underneath the structure.
Centuries ago, every professional builder knew how to construct a home that worked with the environment - they had no choice. Today, technology makes it possible to equip houses with mechanical air conditioning and heating, running 24/7, 365 days a year. But just because we can run air conditioners continually, should we?
The dramatic rise in energy prices over the past decade has given us cause to reconsider this relatively recent silver bullet approach. Ignoring Mother Nature is getting harder and harder to do "on the cheap." Why not design first for environmental compatibility and utilize mechanical heating and cooling as a back up system?
A home designed with natural heating and cooling systems integrated into the layout costs less to operate year-round without necessarily costing more to build, and as a bonus, natural ventilation leads to better indoor air quality for healthier living. With conscious and creative architecture, the same building materials can be combined in a different way to produce an environmentally compatible result.
Here's my take this age-old environmental prototype - the Modern Dogtrot.