This our next shipping container home and has been in the works since March 2013. With shipping containers soon on the way, it won’t be long before it officially makes itself a home a beautiful plot of Florida landscape in Levy County, and what a site it is.
Inhabiting The Xeric Ridge
This site is part of a rapidly disappearing Florida landscape; the Florida Scrub. It is home to many rapidly disappearing species of plant and animal. The key to successfully inhabiting a site like this is the direction of the client, the ability of the architect and the knowledge of a team of people. Through many iterations of research and design, we hypothesize and test a way of living in this landscape. It is exciting.
Here are some core ideas we kept in mind as we designed:
• Recognize and identify the temporal aspects of site, including those associated with climate, cyclical seasonal changes, solar movements, wind, etc. Understand the relationships that temporal changes have on physical aspects of the site.
• Recognize the phenomenal, physiological, and psychological aspects of site, and the things that we, as humans, use to shape and understand a place through direct human perception.
• Shape ideas into/through “buildings” with architectural definition, including structure, heating/cooling/ventilation, and enclosure. Consider and deploy materiality in response to the architectural motivators.
• Recognize the relationships between natural resources, land use, material decisions, and human occupation.
• Evaluate decisions and strategies for optimizing, conserving, and/or reusing natural and built resources to provide healthful environments for occupants/users and reduce the environmental impacts of building construction and operations on future generations.
• Understand the energy implications of decisions made during the design process, and develop proposals that reduce energy use through passive and bioclimatic design strategies.
How do we take these ideas into design?
First, our site analysis. In addition to visiting the site numerous times at different times of day and as seasons change, we engage digital tools to help us create analytical imagery and modeling.
With a little know how, we can use Photoshop as a site an analysis tool. How can this be? Well, the first thing we need to know is that most aerial imagery is shot during winter months when deciduous trees have dropped their leaves, so anything that is still green in the aerial is either coniferous, evergreen or in temperate climates like Florida, a deciduous tree that stays green all year such as a live oak. By adjusting the color histogram of the aerial we can tune up the difference between the colors of the ground and vegetation resulting in a more legible plant map. The brightest greens are pines, the darker greens are the oaks and the blue-greens are the “Florida rosemary”. The red areas are “dead” things, fallen leaves, pine needles and dormant grasses.
Now we can utilize this analysis to make a tree and vegetation survey for design use. There are patterns visible in the drawing that locate the habitat differences that can be experienced in the site.
Using beta software from Autodesk, we imported a digital model and ran it through in a wind simulator using annual climate data. This image actually shows a 3D representation of wind speed over the land that can be adjusted to time of day and time of year. We can include affects and obstacles such as topography and vegetation to understand how these impact our siting of the residence to maximize natural ventilation.
We use this information to site our proto plan and evaluate the impacts of our orientation on both the site and our construction.