chapter  4
38 Pages

Designing passive solar-heated spaces

WithUlrike Passe & Timothy Lentz

Passive solar design techniques have been an intrinsic part of architectural conceptual thought for at least two millennia. References to the powerful relationship between orientation, spatial composition, apertures and materials can be found in major architecture treatises fromVitruvius to Alberti to Le Corbusier. Those strategies are still very valid today as an efficient use of onsite energy is becoming a societal necessity. The letters of the Younger Pliny (61AD-112AD) provide a fascinating example how passive

solar concepts were already well understood in the architecture of antiquity:

“In the angle of this room is the dining roomand the dining roomhas a corner, which retains and intensifies the concentrated warmth of the sun, and this is the winter quarters and gymnasium of my household for no winds can be heard there….” (Pliny, 1969). “As the sun beats down, the arcade increases its heat by reflection and not only retains the

sun but keeps off the northeast wind so that it is as hot in front as it is cool behind” (Pliny, 1969). “Here is a sun-parlor facing the terrace on one side, the sea on the other, and the sun on

both. There is also a room, which has folding doors opening on to the arcade and a window looking out on the sea. Then there is an ante-room and a second bedroom, built out to face the sun and catch its rays the moment it rises, and retains them until after midday, but then at an angle” (Pliny, 1969).