Wednesday, November 5, 2008

BeauSoleil Home: The Transitional Porch

Solar Decathlon Update: Every two years 20 university teams are chosen, based on proposals, to design an all-solar home and assemble it on the National Mall in Washington DC for public viewing and judging. Check back each Wednesday as the NAV Blog reports on the process of the design and construction of BeauSoleil, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's entry. For more info about the project, visit their website at


To continue our conversation on the design/architecture of the Beausoleil Louisiana Solar Home, I would like to place attention on the space we have dubbed the "transitional porch". To place primary emphasis on the ability of Beausoleil to connect its' inhabitants with the outdoors, a major design strategy was to centralize and give dominance to a space that would could handle the aspects of south Louisiana lifestyle that make it unique, while providing for enhanced energy savings.

Whether it be daytime functions such as crawfish boils or washing off gear at the end of a hunting trip, the transitional porch needed to accommodate all sorts of outdoor activity.

With such a small building footprint prescribed by organizers of the solar decathlon, carving out such a large portion of our floor plan for outdoor activity, signaled that we would have to somehow cope with its implications on adjacent interior spaces.

Our solution is that a space could be both interior and exterior, by manipulation from its inhabitants. This not only allows for the structure to interact with its natural surroundings but it encourages active familiarity with the systems in one's home. Since the porch splits the home into 2 distinct zones when opened, nearly 1/2 of the HVAC can be turned completely off in the unoccupied zone. The other option would be that the home operates as a closed, studio-like space, with HVAC being utilized for all of the structure.

We accomplished all of this by allowing the doors to act as walls, and to allow those doors to be maneuvered around the square porch as distinct planes.

The transitional porch also allows for the enhanced passive ventilation of both zones adjacent to it. Opening the doors allows for the introduction of the southwest wind so that inhabitants can cut back usage on breezy days.

In so many ways, the transitional porch has become our expression where all things sustainable and culturally sensible converge.

---Tim Dumatrait, TEAM BeauSoleil

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