WINDCATCHER SECTION 1 WIND TOWER 2 LOUVERS 3 EXHAUST 4 COOLED INTERIOR 5 LOW-PRESSURE ZONE 6 EVAPORATIVE COOLING 7 FRESH-AIR INTAKE 8 VENT
The windCatcher and prairieHouse Specht Harpman Architects
Residential design is increasingly taking into account questions of sustainability and how to move forward in a more harmonious manner with the environment. The Austin firm Specht Harpman Architects proposes passive systems for two very different dwellings in arid climates. The windCatcher looks to ancient traditions while the prairieHouse reimagines a former Texaco station. Designed specifically for its desert climate, the windCatcher is inspired by the passive cooling techniques of traditional Persian architecture. The 1200-sf home is situated above a reservoir, with the majority of the inhabitable space below ground. The building is composed of a series of lofty towers that function as ventilators guiding the breeze into the interior. Water features in the path of the air flow allow for evaporative cooling. Additional low-pressure zones bring cool air into the house from vents near the water below. The large-surface-area thermal mass of the building as well as the recessed gardens and pools around the home help to eliminate extreme variations in the interior temperature. The prairieHouse proposes the adaptive reuse of a former service station as an 800-sf single足-family home. The design was inspired by the abandoned mid-century gas stations that dot
the plains of Texas and Oklahoma. It relies on a broad roof that supports the home below it as well as the diminutive wheat field planted upon it. Two towers project from the roof allowing for passive convective ventilation throughout the home. Consistent with its previous garage use, the carport has electric cables to recharge the cars of the post足-petroleum world.
Texas Architect 19