Exterior cement plaster (stucco) is an exterior finish consisting of portland cement, sand, mixed with water to form a workable plaster. Admixtures may be added to for various purposes including workability. It’s advantages include utility, relatively low first cost, and minimum need for maintenance. Plaster can be a desirable facing material: hard, strong, fire-resistant.
One of the best ways to increase the usable floor space of a 11/2-story house is to add a dormer. It increases headroom, it provides daylight and fresh air, it makes previously dead space fully functional, and it doesn’t change the footprint of the house. With its long, simple roof, a shed dormer adds the most floor space and more opportunities for windows than other dormer types. Continue reading
Weathering steel, often referred to by the generic trademark CorTen steel, is a group of steel alloys developed to eliminate the need for painting and form a stable, ruddy appearance after a curing period by exposure to weather. In architectural applications it is used most often as wall and/or roof cladding. Continue reading
As living beings, we are our environment. Design plays a significant role in human health, and the way that we configure and manipulate elements in a space can mean more to its inhabitants than whether they like the color of the walls, or the texture of the carpet. On the most basic level certain environmental factors have universal effects on all of us – i.e. daylight & circadian rhythm. In other cases these environmental factors are very personal and specific, based on our genetic wiring. Genetics set the stage and the environment activates those genes in different ways. Continue reading
Ducts, Furnaces, & Air Handlers Belong Within Conditioned Space
Ducts, furnaces, and air handlers belong inside a house’s conditioned space. The best locations for ducts are insulated basements, sealed crawlspaces, or unvented conditioned attics. If placing ducts in these locations won’t work, they can also be installed in open-web floor trusses (in a two-story house with a centrally located mechanical room) or in some type of soffit, dropped ceiling, or chase. Continue reading
What is self-cleaning glass?
The first thing to note about self-cleaning windows is that they’re not, in fact, “simple pieces of glass.” They have a very thin outer coating of titanium dioxide, a white, powdery titanium compound best known for giving that dazzling gleam to paint, toothpaste, and all kinds of other bright white things.
Now if titanium dioxide is, essentially, the white in white paint, it might seem ludicrous to splash it all over a window—something we naturally want to be transparent. But the coating really is ultra-ultra thin. We’re talking about putting a layer 10–25 nanometers deep on glass that might be 4mm thick, which is like sitting a dime on top of the Empire State Building! It reduces the light passing through the glass by no more than about 5 percent. Continue reading
Economic prosperity in Barcelona, Spain during the mid-19th century encouraged the population to rise, but infrastructure constraints seemed to compel the decline of urban design and by extension public health. Presently, airborne pollutants with the greatest impact to Barcelona appear to come from motor vehicles. The city’s solution is to repurpose the existing grid layout in favor of environmentally- and pedestrian-friendly city streets with the application of superblocks.