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Thread: Buildings systematically oriented with non-right angles to the street

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Buildings systematically oriented with non-right angles to the street

    Hey all --

    I am involved with a project where we want to maximize southern exposure for all of the units in the development. If the buildings were placed squarely in the proposed lots such that each building has right angles to the street, the buildings would be approximately 30 degrees west of south.

    So, I'm considering rotating each building 30 degrees to the south such that it is not square on the lot or at right angles to the street. This development is on vacant land, so every house could be identically rotated.

    The lots are about 50x80, so the development is fairly dense.

    So my question -- has anyone come across any visuals of houses systematically and identically rotated such that they are not square with the street? Or perhaps some of you even have neighborhoods like this, where house angles are based on solar access? I am having a very difficult time picturing how this might look.

  2. #2
    Dan Staley's avatar
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    Boulder solar access & text. Truckee solar access & text.

    You don't need to be at true south, no matter your latitude. You can be 22.5 off and still have 92% gain, and 45 off and get 70% gain (fig 1-10 Chiras The Solar House pg 21). True south is ideal, but the perfect is the enemy of the good.

    If you're looking at true solar gain, you must ensure if your building code has fenestration restrictions that you grant a waiver to maximize the solar gain, then you'll want to have material available for the residents so they maximize the benefits - likely you'll have incentivization that would be affected if the residents don't avail themselves of the savings.

    Go git 'em. We need more of these (says the guy who is trying to get his GF to agree to a strawbale house...).

  3. #3
    While maximizing solar exposure is a good thing, there are so many other problems that arise when buildings are not oriented towards the street that you may want to compromise, at least somewhat.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Maximizing solar exposure does not necessarily mean the front facade. You have many options. Just a few:
    -change the lot lines through a replat;
    -condo the development to create common grounds
    -design homes with the most windows/solar panels facing maximum exposure (regardless of frontage);
    -design an alternative energy system to be shared (geo-thermal, turbine, etc.);
    -angle the homes as you suggest.
    There is no one answer to sustainable development.

  5. #5
    Member
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    Here are a couple of links to Google streetview images from my neighborhood in Cambridge, showing buildings oriented at about a 30 degree angle from the street lot line. I feel that the orientation creates a great deal of visual interest on the streetscape.

    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=e...99462033295129

    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=e...76830634671715

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Thanks for the replies and resources, everyone. I rather like the look of the cambridge streetscape above and don't find it jarring in the least.

    This is for an affordable/attainable housing development where all of the units will be built by one or two builders, with whom I will be able to negotiate with directly regarding material selection, so it will be easy to take advantage of solar access.

    We're going to run some calcs and determine the benefits of true south vs. maybe 15 degrees west of south (that would align the houses roughly 15 degrees angled from the street). I'll keep you posted.

  7. #7
    Dan Staley's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by progmac View post

    This is for an affordable/attainable housing development where all of the units will be built by one or two builders, with whom I will be able to negotiate with directly regarding material selection, so it will be easy to take advantage of solar access.
    Just the sort of project that should be energy-efficient. Good for you. Hope it happens.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Plus Shellac And Vinyl VelocitY's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by progmac View post
    So my question -- has anyone come across any visuals of houses systematically and identically rotated such that they are not square with the street?
    My area of Queens, NYC has quite a lot of ^^this. If you're still looking for visuals, I'll post an aerial.

    In both my area and Plannerama's Cambridge, (where I also lived), an aligned rotation of housing looks classier at street level than a straight row. Just my opinion.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Seana View post
    My area of Queens, NYC has quite a lot of ^^this. If you're still looking for visuals, I'll post an aerial.

    In both my area and Plannerama's Cambridge, (where I also lived), an aligned rotation of housing looks classier at street level than a straight row. Just my opinion.
    Yeah, put up the images if you don't mind. I'd love to see it. Thanks!

  10. #10
    Member
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    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...22841229037255

    here are some in willowick, ohio, cleveland burb

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