written by:
March 14, 2016
With the harsh sun beating overhead, these designs deflect, diffuse, and absorb energy so you stay comfy—and don't stick to your leather couch.
A cluster of off-the-grid prefabricated units.

Multiple sustainable features keep this prefabricated building, designed by MOS Architects, cool and energy-efficient despite its New Mexico desert surroundings. A small airspace separates the building's aluminum skin from the wall underneath. The aluminum acts like a heat sink during the day, absorbing heat and radiating it into the air (and safely away from the building itself).

 

Originally appeared in Prefab Units Cluster Together in this Off-the-Grid Guesthouse
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Courtyard with cooling shade and water feature of weekend home by Asociacion de Diseno in Mexico.

Comprised of four modules arranged around a central courtyard, this home is a fresh take on the casa de fin de semana. Both the white facades and modules' orientations are crucial in maintaining comfortable indoor temperatures. Designed with the sun path in mind, each part of the home shades the courtyard year-round for residents. 

One of the biggest challenges of the project was keeping the open courtyard cool enough for the residents to enjoy it. The architects used a low impact water feature to create ambient cooling and two native flamboyant trees to provide shade. 

 

 

Photo by 
Originally appeared in A Minimalist Mexican Retreat that Uses an Array of Strategies to Beat the Heat
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austin residence exterior side patio

The steel shading structure and massive concrete foundation help keep this California home’s temperature a comfortable 70 degrees. In a climate where highs and lows can vary by 100 degrees, keeping temperatures stable would seem a huge energy drain. But the air-conditioning unit required by county codes still hasn’t been turned on. Photo by David Harrison.

 

Originally appeared in Five Open Decks
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Desert Canopy House lap pool

A lap pool runs alongside the west facade of this hybrid prefab home in Palm Springs by Sander Architects. “Our version of prefab,” explains architect Whitney Sander, “involves the use of building shells that are the ‘heavy lifting’ parts of any house: main structure, secondary structure, and (often) building skin.”

For the solid exterior walls, Sander devised a “sandwich” of eight-inch-thick expanded polystyrene (“what coffee cups are made of,” he says) and high-tech reflective foil-and-foam wrap (he calls this the “space blanket”). This is topped by eight more inches of structural insulated panels, or SIPs—making the house, with its 17-inch-thick walls, hyper-insulated against the heat. Further protection comes in the form of a deep, fixed overhang that, in some places, extends about 20 feet out from the glazed window wall, to help offset solar gain. 

Photo by 
Originally appeared in An Energy-Efficient Hybrid Prefab Keeps Cool in the Palm Springs Desert
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Facade of modern Japanese home outside Tokyo.

Designed for ventilation during peak summer temperatures, this three-story modern home outside of Tokyo uses traditional Japanese interior design strategies. The house is surrounded by buildings on all sides except its south facade, which faces the street. An expansive operable window is key for effective ventilation during hot summer months. Additionally, a cantilevered balcony shelters a carport, bike storage, and even a playful swing.

 

Photo by 
Originally appeared in Get GENIUS Storage Ideas from This Japanese Home
5 / 5
A cluster of off-the-grid prefabricated units.

Multiple sustainable features keep this prefabricated building, designed by MOS Architects, cool and energy-efficient despite its New Mexico desert surroundings. A small airspace separates the building's aluminum skin from the wall underneath. The aluminum acts like a heat sink during the day, absorbing heat and radiating it into the air (and safely away from the building itself).

 

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