Proper solar orientation of a building on a site has been one of the core practices of passive solar design for decades. But as a number of green building observers have noted before, times have changed, techniques and materials have evolved, and passive solar design principles probably need to be rewritten to reflect these advances.
But that doesn't stop us from appreciating this gem of a cabin studio built by DOM Arquitectura in Sant Cagut, Spain. Built as a minimalist example of passive solar design, the cabin consists of prefabricated parts of locally sourced, red pine wood that have been cut-to-measure offsite and were then assembled on-site.
Much of the cabin's design methodology is faithful to classic passive solar design ideas: its long side has been oriented toward the south, and is covered with a deep overhang to shade it from too much summer solar gain. The majority of glazing is on the south side, with some openings in the opposite, north side to facilitate cross ventilation.
The interiors are done with three layers of pine plywood, and the exterior is clad with fir wood. The open living space, with a woodstove at its heart, feels harmonious and uplifting.
Located on a steep slope facing south, the wood-clad studio is raised on concrete stilts or pilotis and steel beams that were already existing on the site, in order to reduce its environmental footprint, literally. Of course, great care was taken to use local materials, good insulation and high performance windows to optimize available resources and decrease maintenance and transportation costs.
The home's rainwater collection system connects to seven water tanks, which can hold up to 10 cubic metres (2,641 gallons) of water. There's a "kitchen garden" that will be located in a extension to one side, where veggies will be grown. To top it off, there are solar panels on the roof to capture solar energy just for the bathroom; though there are plans to expand the home's solar power generation capabilities in the future to make it more fully off-grid.
So how will future green buildings look and perform if the relevance of passive solar design wanes in the face of new green building tech? Though there might be a growing debate of how far designers might have to stick with the "stubborn legacy" of passive solar design principles in this present era of super-sealed, super-insulated building, this is nevertheless a lovely little modern cabin. Check out more over at DOM Arquitectura.