The Low Down On Green Living
July 31st, 2009
In passive solar design, a home is oriented with the main axis running east and west so that the home faces essentially south (or north if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere). With this orientation and lots of south-facing windows, the home is passively heated by the sun in the winter. With proper window shading, the windows will stay shaded during the summer, minimizing heat gain. But what if instead of properly aligning your home for the sun, your home actually followed the sun? That’s the idea behind the Domespace Homes in France and now their sister company, Solaleya in the US.
The homes, admittedly, are shaped a bit like a UFO, but offer exceptional strength and resistance to weather. The circular design is centered around a central wooden pillar and with the help of a small motor at the base, the whole house can rotate. Depending on the outside conditions the home can rotate for heating or cooling. The main windows are situated on one side of the house similar to traditional passive solar design. To gain more heat, the home rotates so the windows face the sun and alternatively away when it needs to cool down.
According to Solaleya, the energy required to rotate the home is very small and is comparable to vacuuming the house. The roof of the home can also be outfitted with solar panels and automatically rotated to follow the path of the sun to generate more power throughout the day. Alternatively, the home can also be rotated a complete 360 degrees once a day to match the rhythms of the sun.
Built almost entirely from wood with a central pillar and arches, the home has great integrity against the elements. The home has been proven to withstand an earthquake up to a magnitude 8 and its aerodynamic shape can resist winds up to 175 mph (category 5 hurricane). The roof is covered in Red Cedar shingles, which don’t require any special treatment and the inside the home is insulated with raw cork, which is inserted in between the beams.
Continual sun-facing windows maintain a constant light quality all day and with the circular and open layout, light diffuses throughout the rest of the house. The circular design is also said to help maximize space and improve functionality. Solaleya and Domespace have numerous floor plan options and sizes to accommodate your needs, from 600 sq ft up to 6,000 sq ft homes. The largest home has 3 levels in it, with an upper ceiling height of 25 ft and a radius of 40 feet.
The interiors are beautifully finished and furnished with a warm and natural glow emanating from the arched wooden walls. A circular design also lends itself to a more organic looking design with curved walls and railing. Some models even have a deck space designed into the home that rotates with it. That way you can change the location of your deck depending on if you want sun or not. Domespace Homes are far from traditional in their look, but seem highly practical and beautiful in design.
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