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  • The University of Utah

    College of Architecture + Planning

    375 S. 1530 E., Rm. 332 Arch

    SLC, UT 84112

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    WINDCATCHER

    Inspired by the wind, shaped by the heart

    The first home built by students from the University of Colorado Denver, this home was designed for a single mother from the Red Mesa chapter. Intended to achieve a balance, or more, a symbiosis with the surrounding environment, it was contemplated to protect the home from the harsh desert climate, while at the same time utilizing the beneficial attributes of the natural elements to maintain a comfortable micro-climate. This manifests itself in the focal point of the home, the central hearth, or self-described “windcatcher”, from which the home took its inevitable name. The hearth naturally acts as both the primary cooling and heating source for the home, employing passive evaporative cooling through a drip-line dampened blanket-like medium at the upper openings on all four sides within the tower, and the wood stove at its base. The cooling principle, extant in the public buildings at Zion National Park, to which the students made an educational pilgrimage to better understand the natural and highly effective low tech form of giant swamp cooler, was born of consultation with the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, Colorado. Thermal mass was generated through course-upon-exacting-course of stabilized compressed earth bricks (essentially adobe without the shredded straw binder) surrounding the stove. Further thermal mass was provided by two different 24-inch thick rammed earth walls (the longer stretching east-west, and the other enclosing the kitchen north-south), two eight-foot tall masses sandwiching two inches of rigid insulation, doubled in service by protecting the home from the above-mentioned harsh winds and intense summer sun.

    Credits

    University of Colorado Students

    Nina Afshar, Amy Beresford, Katie Carleo, Amber Danzi, Jessica Garfin, Dominic Herrera, Wren Hoffman, Matthew Joiner, George Kincald, Peter Lutz, Emily Martin, Cayla McConnell, Mark Olsen, Joshua Paulsen, Tina Pruett, Nik Rael, Matthew Rennert, Lisa Robins, Jonah Rogin, Eric Sechrist, Mike Sullivan, and Jocelyn Turkowski