barnhouse, sustainable design, green architecture, western cape, south africa, Raymond Smith, passive cooling, passive heating, solar energy, wind energy, southeasterly winds, northfacing, hydrated lime, passive design

An intermediate mezzanine floor provides for more space, but keep the houses compact and comfortable. Large north-facing windows with sliding aluminum louvers make optimum use of the Western Cape’s copious summer sun, and they also open to sensational views of the adjacent Brody Link Nature Reserve. When the sun is too hot to handle, cool southeasterly winds bring interior temperatures down a notch without using any mechanical devices.

Photovoltaic panels installed on the north roof slope coupled with vertical axis wind turbines on the garage’s flat roof (for wet and woolly winter days) will provide DC power for 12V energy-saving lighting and other electrical needs. Natural gas will be used for cooking.

Plastic piping fed under metal roof sheeting pre-heats thermal solar geysers, while additional thermal piping circulates hot water under concrete flooring, providing warmth without exorbitant heating bills.

Rainwater harvested in metal water tank gables made from Cor-Ten colored steel receives its pressure from the system’s design. And with a final, eco-svelte touch, Raymond uses less-toxic hydrated lime in lieu of plaster.

Outside space has also been reserved for a constructed wetland and vegetable garden, completing the self-sufficiency loop. With no shortage of energy, food, or serenity, these contemporary barn houses covet that cozy country feel without sacrificing an ounce of efficiency.

+ Raymond Smith