Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

Virtual Glamour Shots

April 20th, 2010 by Tim Delhey Eian

Here are two additional renderings showing front entry and southeast corner perspectives of the Passive House in the Woods.

Passive House in the Woods front perspective rendering

Front Entry Perspective

The front entry canopy will be sheathed with wood slats, and punctured with little openings that allow sunlight to penetrate the area underneath, as well as views onto the side yard. The stairwell beyond connects the backyard to the first and second floor decks, as well as the roof top terrace. Siting the garage was a fair challenge due to the steep topography of the building lot, and generous setbacks mandated by local jurisdiction. In the end, we seized the opportunity and located a root cellar underneath on the West side. The garage roof is designed to become a “green roof”, holding crates with sedums that absorb, store, and time-release storm water.

Passive House in the Woods southeast elevation

Southeast Perspective

This perspective shows the south and east elevations of the Passive House in the Woods, as well as the woods beyond. The generously sized south-facing windows capture valuable sunlight in the winter months, acting as heaters for the house. Over the course of a year, they are projected to capture 50% more heating energy than is lost through them. This is due to glazing that offers high solar heat-gains (64%), as well as outstanding insulating values (0.11).

What the rendering does not show is how the sun exposure is managed. Exterior venetian blinds, made from aluminum and operated by motors that are controlled by the sun and wind, recess into the area above each window—right inside of the wall. Depending on the weather conditions, they will automatically drop to block sun light in the summer months while allowing natural daylighting based on the angle of the slats. Each shade can also be controlled individually for privacy, or light control.

Passive House in the Woods decks

On the drawing board: Rear decks and stair structure

This working model perspective  shows the rear deck and stair structure that is going through final design, now.


FSC Certified Lumber – a Positive Relationship with the Land

April 12th, 2010 by Tim Eian

The focus of the Passive House in the Woods is energy efficiency.  In this post however I would like to turn your attention to another important aspect of the project.  Though the house is built from Insulated Concrete Formwork (ICFs) and is sheathed with an Exterior Insulation Finish System (EIFS) there is still a large quantity of wood used on the project for the floor and roof assemblies, the framing of interior walls, and the framing of the garage.  I tip my hat to Morr Construction for procuring FSC certified wood for all these applications.

FSC certified plywood sheathing FSC certified studs

FSC stands for the Forest Stewardship Council, an international non-profit organization that Read on »


Shape Shifting

March 20th, 2010 by Tim Delhey Eian

Passive House in the Woods and Garage

The exterior shape of house and garage are now near complete. What we are missing is the exterior insulation package, which will add almost one foot to the overall size of the house. The front entry area will also be sheltered by a canopy roof and side wall structure. All in all however, this image gives us a first glimpse at the final geometry of the two buildings side-by-side.

The garage is built using conventional stick-frame construction. We are using advanced stick-framing to reduce the amount of FSC certified wood. The shell is clad with an exterior grade gypsum sheathing. This is the more common substraight for exterior finish and insulation systems.

There will be two east-facing garage doors, and a south-facing side door. This is the only access to the house. There is no interior door connecting the two structures, to avoid both thermal disruptions, as well as a potential for interior air pollution from exhaust gases in the garage.

On top of the garage, the flat roof will be filled with sedums, planted in a tray system. This will minimize storm water run-off and create a more pleasant view from the roof top terrace up above. Remaining run-off is slated to be captured in rain barrels for use on site.


Site Considerations

March 15th, 2010 by Tim Delhey Eian

Passive House in the Woods building site

The Challenge

The first person to join the Passive House in the Woods team was Laurie McRostie—a south Minneapolis landscape architect. Laurie brings years of experience with sustainable landscape design to this project. The site, while beautiful, provided a fair challenge for any professional. Heavy woods and shrubbery filled this southwest facing slope. A huge front setback governed by the Hudson Township pushed the area in which any building can be placed well down the hill from the front elevation. A hefty elevation change added to the challenge of placing a house, garage, and driveway in an earth-friendly manor.

Collaboration and Strategies

At TE Studio, we collaborated with Laurie and the client to complete a detailed analysis including the existing significant trees and plans, drainage patterns, slope and grade changes, soil types, and the location of views on an off site. We determined the easiest and most welcoming entry point to the site, while maintaining maximum solar exposure. The elevation of the building was set such that minimal grading and site disturbance would be required. We focused on our client’s needs to maximize the enjoyment and use of outdoor space.

The Result

As a result of these efforts, we were able to save significant trees and control tree loss. Kiln-dried wood from the site will actually go back into the building as trim and flooring. The access to the home is welcoming and clear. We captured maximum solar exposure and limited the amount of grading necessary. Our design captures stormwater for reuse and infiltration in rain gardens. The garage features a green roof to further minimize storm water runoff. Our client preserved plants for site restoration. Laurie’s new site plan includes native landscape preservation and restoration to prairie and woodland. In addition, the site will be used for intense, localized food production. The exterior deck structure and rooftop terrace capture dramatic views of the woods and the St. Croix river valley. The choice of materials is based on durability, local sourcing, and the use of recycled content.

Passive House in the Woods landscape master plan

We look forward to sharing impressions of these efforts later in the year.


Room with a View

February 14th, 2010 by Tim Delhey Eian

So far, most of the blog posts talked about the construction of the Passive House in the Woods. Todays post focuses on the architectural side of things. There are many reasons why people design homes a certain way, and place them on a specific spot on a building site. As a designer, I believe in the architectural principle of “genius loci”, a theory states that any place (locus) comes with circumstance and opportunity. We can recognize and build on these features, and respond to them with our work. Read on »



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