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16 January 2008


Nick Devlin

Summer overheating risk is a major issue in lightweight houses, such as the lighthouse. There's no mass and so all summertime cooling has to be achieved through ventilation rates. These houses therefore are unlikley to ever be cooler than external temperatures during the summer without mechanical cooling of some kind.

Minimising solar gain from the south during the summer is not that difficult, whereas protecting from mid to late afternoon sun from the west is both more critical and problematic as the sun is lower and air temperatures peaking.

Interestingly, this means that the masterplanning for such low mass houses is almost as restrictive as passive solar design with its south facing mantra.

I am not bad-mouthing this approach in any way, just a little concerned as to what happens when a developer squeezes 'one-more' dwelling onto that last bit of the plot which is south facing?

Andy Brunt

Interesting. The debate on thermal massing isnt over though and there is still a lot of merit in traditional forms of build, done properly. One valid approach is to have south facing ' solar conservatory' type structures which can be isolated from the main living space when necessary and used as a buffer zone, allowing the heating/cooling effect to be used in a positive way whilst maintaining the benefits of large south-facing glazed aspect. There is room for both MMC and traditional build techniques in my view, given the wide range of site conditions, user preferences and functional priorities

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