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  • Proposal for an In-ground house

    A few years back I worked in a basement office and was suprised at just how effective the strategy of 'in-ground' is.
    Warm in winter, without supplemental heat. (ofcourse the house above was heated.)
    Cool in summer, although the de-humidifyer had to run continuously. (it's humid in West Virginia)
    Anyway, I had to give it a try, to see if I can convince myself that living in-ground is viable.
    First I chose a natural forest environment, moderate climate, good solar exposure.
    The ground is easily excavated, with 'basement' type block walls, waterproofing, protection boards, crusher run and french drain. Whatever it takes to keep out ground water.
    The walls are furred out with vapor barrier and gypboard interior finish.

    So I chose to address these questions;
    1.) How do you find the thing, or how to give it a presence.
    2.) What is the quality of the spaces. How to make the house feel like home and not a basement. (cave?)
    3.) What's a good name. I came up with SUBterra. Well, everything in Latin sounds good, veritas?

    I'm very interested in a good 'ol design crit. Let em rip! I've gotten as far as I can with this. (for now)

    Here's a possible solution to question #1

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  • #2
    another view

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    • #3
      The roof cover is polycarbonate on an aluminum frame.
      The idea is a green house in winter, warming the roof.
      In summer the vents open to create a 'thermal chimney' effect, drawing air through the house and out.
      The weather barrier is an asphaltic membrane on plywood sheathing.

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      • #4
        The plan

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        • #5
          The two rooms, Sleeping/Living and Eating/Working are arranged around a light well.
          The bathroom opens to a utility room.
          Tall cabinets line one wall providing storage, and a kitchen.

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          • #6
            I'm still waiting on the organic LED TVs.

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            • #7
              Hello Groucho

              Thanks for posting your project!
              I'll make some comments, but nothing personal!

              I think its a really nice idea, but it still needs work.
              You need to provide more details about it. The roof, the strategy of the openings with the orientation, the shadows from the roof, all those trees in the site...

              Also, I don't think a Living/bedroom will work with all that space that you design. If you're giving the idea of a small ergonomic space, how do you have a storage and do not have a bedroom? The concept seems lost from that point. Just need to work more on it.
              And Im not sure about the angle of the roof. Im sure you have searched for the specifications, but looks like (it could be me) you have a lot of angle to keep the snow on the roof.

              It's just a thought, but you can use the sunlights in a different way. Have you thought using it as a roof? It could minimize all the "dead" space that you've designed in the middle.

              I like the starting concept, with work will be a nice theme.

              I don't know if you're working on it, or just did it for fun, or if it was a uni project...

              Thanks for sharing and keep walking!

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              • #8
                Hi Groucho and thx for posting.
                I won't really comment on the interior organisation considering it could be anything... The concept reminds me of the war trenches. But something is clearly not working here: the roof. To me it's totally useless. Either bury the house completely and let the soil and vegetation cover it. Great insulation and almost unspoiled landscape. Or, half buried. But then, take advantage of that configuration and allow day light and views. Think of those half buried war bunkers...

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                • #9
                  periscope windows give an above ground outlook whilst still being underground.
                  there are a few examples on the net if you google.

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                  • #10
                    Thanks guys. Well living in the ground is like a trench. That's the problem. Environmentaly it's a really strong strategy, using the earth for cooling and heating.
                    Problem always is, you're in the ground.
                    The courtyard was inspired in part by this one from SANAA
                    The technology of the roof is just hypothetical, no idea if it could work.

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                    • #11
                      OK, so I stole the roof also. SANAA again.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Groucho View Post
                        OK, so I stole the roof also. SANAA again.
                        What project is that?

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                        • #13
                          Think its great you've set up a design challenge for yourself!
                          In my view where you have come short is by looking at the SANAA precedent a little too much(at least it seems that way)...you've identified some positives of living in-ground and you've experienced it yourself. That's a good start in itself! I presume this is a hypothetical project for now so rather than getting into looking at precedents I would approach it based on what you've experienced and how you want the building to develop. Michel has immediately picked up on the theme of war trenches and yes that could work as a basis for a design concept to develop from, but maybe you've got some idea that could be used to really inform your concept of in-ground living?

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                          • #14
                            Groucho,

                            I've always loved this type of architecture. One of my favorite desinger, Emilio Ambasz has done a lot of projects along this line. Some half buried some almost completely buried. I particularly like his San Antonio Zoo.
                            And his house design below is along a similar trench design as yours.

                            What I really like about the direction your going is that I could see the roof as floating above the ground and opening it up at the bottom to allow some ventilation into the rooms.
                            Very nice project, but if your going to go further you really do need a better program.
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                            • #15
                              Hi Gorgon...no idea where that house came from, but Iwan Baan's website i would guess.
                              There was also a PS1 courtyard installation that used a similar theme. (form)
                              There's nothing about living in-ground that appeals to me, except it works. really well!
                              Steve Holl made an in-ground museum, with glass 'monitors' that are illuminated at night. Absolutely beautifull!
                              So I'm struggeling to find the 'genious' in this thing. Thanks everyone for the generous responce!
                              Oh yea, the chicken coop, that was genious.

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