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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
These two books are the perfect starting place to help you get to grips with one of the most vitally important aspects of our society - our homes and living environment.

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    • CommentAuthorFjord
    • CommentTimeSep 15th 2014 edited
    Hello to everyone at this amazing forum!
    I just signed up to hopefully take part in the exciting discussions regarding green builds.
    I have studied architecture and I'm very interested in the era of the 1950-60's modernist buildings and would like to build my own home one day featuring some of the typical design features of this period.
    While studying architecture very little focus were on the actual construction so I know almost nothing about the subject! :confused: So I hope I can get a little help here!
    I have started sketching a house with a flat roof and slender fascia (~300mm total thickness)with a large 100cm overhang. I have tried to find information on how to actually construct something like the attached photos without too much thermal bridging happening. (it seems like i can only attach one photo per post?)
    With my limited knowledge I see the challenge with this construction method that the joists need to puncture the thermal envelope to form the large overhang. I have tried to find a way to improve this and have worked on a way to make it seem like the joists continue from the side to the outside, but they're actually cut to stop the thermal bridge. I hope my drawings make some sense as English isn't my first language and writing technical build lingo isn't my biggest skill.

    I know the glazing will be bad in regards to heat transmission but I have found some triple glazed units (36 mm with krypton filling: 0.5 W/m2K) and they seem to be improved all the time so maybe a fairly good thermal envelope could be created sometime in the near future.
    Trying to find a solution to this thermal envelope problem got me thinking if it's even worth the effort to eliminate the thermal bridge in the joists when the heat transmission is so much higher in the glazing it self :/

    I would love your comments on a minimal construction like this. I haven't decided if I would like to be able to see the construction joists as in one of the referenced photos or if I prefer the minimal continuous surface, but I guess the underlying construction will be the same/similar?

    I know the part of the build is just one of many many design challenges, but I need to start somewhere.
    Thank you for reading! :)
    • CommentAuthorFjord
    • CommentTimeSep 15th 2014 edited
    • CommentAuthorrhamdu
    • CommentTimeSep 15th 2014
    Check out this green retrofit of a 1960s timber-frame house http://lewesecoopenhouses.org.uk/info/lewes-eco-open-houses/60-barons-down

    We were there on Saturday.

    You might be able to use similar techniques - though of course you could do even better in a new build. Ask Ian Mackay, I'm sure he would be interested in your project.
    • CommentAuthorFjord
    • CommentTimeSep 15th 2014
    Thank you rhamdu,
    I'll take a look at the refurbished project for inspiration. I think it's very interesting how that era's houses would be build with today's knowledge and improved materials.
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeSep 15th 2014
    I don't know how well it would sit with minimalist profiles,- windows, supports, structural members, etc not as good as metal admittedly, but engineered wood throughout with it's better thermal properties would obviously minimise thermal breaks at junctions
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeSep 15th 2014
    That form of modernist architecture was largely predicated on having lots of energy available - too cheap to meter and all that stuff. Is that appropriate today?
    • CommentAuthorFjord
    • CommentTimeSep 15th 2014 edited
    owlman: Yes I haven't decided on the materials yet because I don't have the knowledge yet, but I was thinking that with a construction as the attached with visible joists, I do prefer a gluelam structure due to the warmth of the wood. And I also thought that it would make the thermal problems smaller.

    Ed: I guess it depends on how you look at that style of architecture. I think it's correct that they didn't think about energy consumption like we do today, but I think a more dominant reason for the design change that happened back then had do do with the relationship between inside and outside and the new possibilities to melt these together with the large glazing that appeared. This is also the main focal point in my design. I think it is interesting to figure out how green such a design can be made to be :)
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeSep 15th 2014
    A living roof for about a metre in from the fascia could allow a much thicker/better insulated roof structure inboard of that as it would be hidden from the view below by foliage. The contrast of living structure and minimalist architecture could look particularly good too, IMO.
    • CommentAuthorFjord
    • CommentTimeSep 15th 2014
    owlman: I agree that it could be beautiful, but the weight of such a green roof would be enormous. The main roof of the build is 150m2 so I guess it would cause other structural challenges.
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeSep 15th 2014
    Nah, I'm only on about making a perimeter a green bit. A 1M or so, or less, all the way around the house edge just to hide a higher/thicker bit in the centre. No reason for it to be particularly heavy.
    • CommentAuthorskyewright
    • CommentTimeSep 15th 2014 edited
    I've no idea if its EPC / SAP performance is up to GBF standards but is this the sort of thing you had in mind?


    Some of the other designs by that architect have a lot of glass too, but I picked that one because of the flat roof.

    IIRC at least some have shutters built into the designs?
    I think I feel a Walter Segal moment coming on again!

    https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=walter+segal%27s+temporary+house,+highgate,+london&rlz=1C1AFAB_enGB461GB462&espv=2&biw=1366&bih=667&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=NiEXVPvbJLPb7AaMogE&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAg#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=poSobg7BoryjlM%253A%3BAX5xXJlCeluSOM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252F38.media.tumblr.com%252Ftumblr_mcny2eukqD1r3gs1yo1_400.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fmodernism-in-metroland.tumblr.com%252Fpost%252F34751536115%252Fhouse-highgate-1966-by-walter-segal-image%3B400%3B293 and

    • CommentTimeSep 15th 2014
    As buidings get larger (more volume), the external surface to floor space ratio decreases, which is why office blocks often get away with glass facades. For house-size buildings, it's not possible to do much better than scrape through the weak building regs, with lots of glass. Very small houses are forced into really small window areas.

    However, for ultra slim profile metal windows with half-decent Uw, see Vitrocsa, tho their UK agent's website is chaotic.
    • CommentAuthorFjord
    • CommentTimeSep 15th 2014
    Thanks to everyone reading and commenting on this post, it means a lot.
    It would be great if someone would try to give a more direct comment at the construction of something as i tried in sketchup, it seems like a challenge to create such a design without thermal problems.

    owlman: Ahh ok I get it now, clever idea! I don't think getting enough roof insulation is a problem with PIR/PUR but if it needs to be extreme I would also investigate VIP for the roof.

    skyewright: Funny you mention this house as I have it in my inspiration folder. It has similar features for sure, I haven't seen detailed section drawings though, so it's hard to tell how similar it is.
    A project that better shows the flat large overhang roof i'm talking about is this one: http://www.archdaily.com/523993/eagle-ridge-residence-gary-gladwish-architecture/ i would like to see the internal construction, because it might not be sufficient insulated.

    Nick Parsons:
    Thank you for the link, i have never heard about Walter Segal, but it seems like some interesting build principles, i'll investigate further.

    Thank you for the heads up on Vitrocsa! Looks good.
    How about - deep 2-skin beam with separating 'noggins' (cross-pieces) at ceiling height, allowing insulation between, with further 'ladder section' coach-screwed on to form the overhang with reduced thermal bridging.
    • CommentTimeSep 16th 2014 edited
    Line the inside of the roof with is much mineral wool as possible, then use Aerogel plasterboard or ply wood on the inside.

    As far as material thermal and structural properties are concerned, start at Engineering Toolbox.

    Then move to the National Physic Laboratory's Kaye and Laby for more detail.

    ICE at Bath University is useful. Though embodied energy is not really relevant, but can be useful.

    Engineers Handbook is useful for a quick overview of materials.

    If you want to understand structures better get a copy of Structures: Or why don't things fall down.

    There is nothing magical about buildings. Just follow tried and tested engineering and it all falls into place. If you want to understand more extreme engineering try chatting to an automotive, marine or aeronautical engineer.
    • CommentAuthoratomicbisf
    • CommentTimeSep 17th 2014 edited
    Hi and welcome! This sounds like a fantastic project as it's my favourite architectural era! Sadly I don't think the UK took to it nearly as much as 'newer' countries like the USA, Australia, South Africa etc.

    If I had the money I'd build a house inspired by the 1950s atomic age of space, the Sputnik and atomic models. It could probably be made fairly green with modern insulation, aligning the main area of glazing correctly, solar PV/thermal on the roof(though of course solar PV wasn't used domestically in those days, I think the panels would suit the style and spirit).

    • CommentAuthorArchmoco
    • CommentTimeSep 17th 2014
    Very Van der Rohe.

    I'm guessing you have checked out Glenn Murcutts work?

    I suppose it depends on how good of performance are you looking. Are you wanting the exposed rafters inside? Surely you can run the rafters straight through, don't need a thermal break if you have a thin layer of insulation on the exterior soffit and facia boards, and pack insulation between joists.

    joists would need to be engineered wood as any movement in the joist would distort your clean lines.
    • CommentAuthorskyewright
    • CommentTimeSep 18th 2014
    Posted By: atomicbisfThis sounds like a fantastic project as it's my favourite architectural era! Sadly I don't think the UK took to it nearly as much as 'newer' countries like the USA, Australia, South Africa etc.

    Maybe latitude is of some relevance? Alaska aside, the USA is essentially below latitude 49N The most southerly point on the GB Mainland is Lizard Point, Cornwall at 49°57′N.
    • CommentTimeSep 18th 2014
    Posted By: skyewrightThe most southerly point on the GB Mainland is Lizard Point, Cornwall at 49°57′N.
    Was down there an hour ago, it was almost sunny. :cool:
    • CommentAuthorrhamdu
    • CommentTimeSep 19th 2014
    Was there in June about 3 years ago and it WAS sunny. (Yes we were lucky.) The near-vertical sunlight seemed quite Mediterranean.
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