Magazine article Sunset

Solar Walls and Sod Roof

Magazine article Sunset

Solar Walls and Sod Roof

Article excerpt

Solar walls and sod roof

Passive-solar principles get a workout in this house designed by South Laguna architect Neil Pinney for Abe and Joy Gurvin of Vista, California. Set into a hillside on the north and roofed with sod for insulation, the house opens to the south with a glass-walled solarium. While the Gurvins built their house from scratch to suit their particular needs, the idea of the spa enclosure can be easily adapted to many remodeling situations.

Alongside the open living-dining area, Pinney designed the solarium to stretch 17 feet and project, prow-like, 6 feet into the garden at each end and 7 feet in the middle. To hold the 4-foot-diameter redwood tub, he poured a concrete shell to clear tub sides by 6 inches; the tub rests on precast footings inside the shell.

The architect paved the solarium with concrete that soaks up heat during the day to radiate into the house at night; an insert of removable redwood decking surrounding the tub allows access to spa machinery. …

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