This nifty greenhouse and sun room sits atop a 19th century row house in the South Side Flats of Downtown Pittsburgh. While the sawtooth roof may look contemporary, studio d’ARC actually borrowed the profile from the building’s original greenhouse erected in the ‘70s. The design has lost no punch as it contrasts with the dark factory brick homes of a century ago. Using passive heating the project also helps warm the lower flats — like the original design, but with new efficient equipment that also pumps fresh air into the building. Tenants are given much-needed space to garden and can hang out on the sun deck while taking in the city views and sun rays.
The architects liken the design to those Russian Matryoshka dolls that nestle into each other — an inner structural frame is skinned by an outer frame of glazing and stainless steel — but perhaps a more apt description may be of toppled dominos facing the sun. The tilted roof is a frame for three large south-facing windows which collect a remarkable amount of usable sunlight. A biophilic garden with hydroponic and soil planting systems offers produce and flowers for the tenets.
Eccess heat is used to temper fresh air with an Energy Recovery Ventilator or ERV. The ERV exchanges 90% of the heat from the green home’s air to the house’s fresh air supply. The warm filtered air is then pumped into the apartments below. By adding a slight pressurization to the building, air infiltration is virtually eliminated– improving comfort and efficiency. On more temperate days fresh air is brought in through an “urban snorkel” that penetrates the center of the roof. A solar hot water system is planned as well. Low-impact material like Trex decking and other high recycled content materials were used throughout the project.
Photos by Massery Photography, Inc.