Subtropical plants fill up the interior courtyard, built atop a Watson Wick wasterwater system. Small pond has a purely decorative function. The courtyard is part of the passive solar function of the house, it receives most solar gain in the winter months.Useful Links
Strawbale building information for different climates and applications.
adobe and how to use it in building.
Electromagnetic fields and their influence on health.
Passive Solar and how to incorporate it in your home design.
Watson Wick - a system for plant-based waste water treatment
A hybrid strawbale/adobe structure is an informed choice for sustainable home in temperate climate of Northern New Mexico, with its very hot summers (up to 105F) and very cold winters (down to -18F). The strawbale exterior walls protect from the summer heat and winter cold because of the high insulative value of straw and the adobe interior walls store heat during the winter and cool during the summer, keeping the interior comfortable year around.
The design and materials were informed by what was available in the bioregion. Traditional adobe brick and clay(mud) plaster were incorporated into the house. We also consciously chose those building techniques that minimized forest products. Other considerations were no toxic materials, utilization of all waste water, limit electromagnetic fields, and incorporation of passive solar heat and energy efficiency.
The walls are plastered with native clays found in the surrounding hills. Hand-dug La Bajada Red and Abiquiu Sage clay was used throughout the house.
The house was built to mimic traditional courtyard house of desert cultures. In our case, the courtyard is enclosed with a roof, to create a climate-controlled growing space and a large heat sink which helps to modify interior temperature in the house. Surrounded by the building mass on three sides, with its glazed wall facing south, this is a perfect place to experiment with subtropicals, including bananas, fig trees, cherimoyas, citrus and numerous ornamentals.
Watson Wick pumice filtration system is in use to manage wastewater (black and gray) and to feed and water our 600 sqf green space. There are a few of these systems in use around the southwest, but our is one of the very few installed indoors. In other words, our waste management system is part of our interior space and is a strikingly beautiful living productive environment. Our plants de-water the waste-water system, and re-humidy the house (in New Mexico we suffer from very low humidity and extra moisture in the house poses no problem for either people, or house integrity). The moisture is just enough to make is comfortable, but there is no excess of it.
Russian Masonry Oven provides for most of our heating needs in the winter. It’s mass takes a long time to warm up, but once it gets going, it only needs a relatively small amount of wood. It must be run daily for maximum efficiency. With wall thickness of nearly 2’, the oven is the heart of the house. It is also used for cooking meals and baking, following the Slow Cooker recipies.