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SECTIONS AND ELEVATIONS Section A facing patio Light tunnels

Section A facing patio




Kitchen and dining

M. Bedroom

Section B and sun angles Light tunnels

M. Bath

M. Bedroom

North east elevation (obs: Mountain has been partially cut)

North west elevation not possible due to mountain.

South east elevation (front) 1


South west elevation (obs: Mountain has been partially cut) 7m

Carl Heintz 2013




Kitchen & dining

M. Bath



M. bedroom


Point of entry

Window and wall detail OBS: The smaller text nd the arrow (>) means door leading to stated room.

Grass-roof This thickness lets 50% of the rainwater stay. Good natural insulation. Beauthiful and comfortable


Photovoltaic panel Faces south to optimize sun intake

Damp-proof membrane Prevents excess moist into the concrete. Gravel Works as a buffer and drainage for excess water.

+4.06 m

Damp-proof membrane



Drip groove Prevents rainwater to drip into concrete execessivly





+0.08 0 -0.096


0 +0,09



Jaloussi mechanism Functions as overhang as well as it reflects light. Makes it easy to choose how much light and air goes in

-0.73.8 m +2.91m

EFIS on the outside facade Insulation on the parts that receieve the most sun. Placed on the outside of the wall.

Carl Heintz 2013

DESIGN PHASES AND PROCESS Design phases and process The building has been redesigned several times. It started with a lot of reading regarding what is optimal for a site like this, dry and very hot. After going through case studies and a lot of material, I decided to avoid getting into the habit of reasoning that everything can be handled with solar panels. They are getting more and more effective but focusing on envelope, direction and other factors are important parts, probably far more important than the panels themselves, also cheaper.

Then problems arised with the usage of space, a lot was considered to be sub-optimal and that idea got changed. Again, I wanted to escape from the plain box. I therefore thought to bring in different heights for the entry, the living room and the kitchen to add depth.

I quickly decided to do a submerged erged building. ding. ding This was not appreciated since it adds complications to the construction. Likewise, other limitations such as building code required retaining walls on the topmost of the roof (facing northwest) as well as a safety railing on the roof to prevent children etc from hurting themselves.

After that, I realized it would be in line with the environmental concept to make the building a part of the landscape. The facade is taken from the outlines of the topography but just extended a bit. Green roofs and a lawn will add comfortability to the site.

The last big problem was the stairway and the lawn. To get that working well was challenging since the topography was somewhat awkward, I did retaining walls and I wanted comfortable stairs, limit the amount of dug-out as well as I did not want to use loads of material.

Another important issue was overhangs. How much above the window, how far out etc all depends on the elevation and the angle of the sun at the specific place. I luckily found several tools that will be invaluable for the future. The only problem with this was that it, despite having somewhat curved angles, looked like a box. Therefore I decided to go with doing something more interesting on the inside. I recently lived in a house with very many different angles and walls. Instinctively you react negatively to that but then after awhile I realized that it adds character to the building. I wanted to to do something with that.

Light tunnels Green roof

Parti The concept of parti-model was new to me but I found it interesting. I went through 9 mBKor designs with tunnels, a two-storey building, trap doors, waterbuckets reaching through to the second underground level, a more abstract roof, curved walls. The even more basic version of this parti was done all before that and it more or less ended up exactly as the final approach came together.

Photovoltaic panels

Some elements such as the water reflecting light disappeared due to measurements of the big windows and was replaced by a jaloussi-window. The same can be said about decidiuous trees.

Decidiuous trees (later dismissed)

Building submerged and integrated with the mountain

Green lawn Water reflecting light inside (later dismissed)

Carl Heintz 2013

North america


Black Canyon CIty

Plot and surrounding topography Point of entry


5 minutes away - Minor city with grocery store 30 minutes away - Phoenix (larger city). This is a newly developed area starting out with building 10 buildings and if that is a success, nearby buildings will be constructed along the hill.

C Climate adjustment

Subm Submerge building Cools the building down by the cooler ground. Insulation placement Insulated the facade to keep the warm out but not on Insu the ground letting the mountain cool down the hot inside. Localization Align towards the southeast to get the most sun band thus Loca natural light but keep itaway from that strong western sun. natu Sola Solar panels Solar panels facing the south on top of roof to benefit from the large amount of sun in the area. Light tunnels Replace the need the light bulbs and let the sun give natural Ligh light through the roof. ligh Green roof Works as a great insulation as well as it blends in with the Gree nature. natu


Point of entry


ENERGY USAGE Photo voltaic panels to generate most of electricity to take advantage of the strong sun. Usage of several light tunnels to replace the need for electricity that takes up 25-35% of the energy usage in a normal household. These are strategically placed since the frontfacing rooms already have big windows. To further decrease our need for HVAC we will submerge the building to limit the exposure for the sun. This will make it naturally more insulated. We will place insulation on the outside of the sunfacing facade to prevent overheating while we will not insulate the part facing the mountain for it to cool down the building. Overhangs are used with an angle to let sun in during the cooler winter while the overhang protects it from the higher summer sun.



Overhang Start of slope

Light tunnels

Light tunnels

Carl Heintz 2013

Zero-energy building fall 2013  

This project was from our assignment to make a building with low-to-none energy used based on different types of climates. My site was Phoen...

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