|The ancient Greeks planned whole cities in Greece and Asia Minor such as Priene, shown in the illustration, to allow every homeowner access to sunlight during winter to warm their homes. By running the streets in a checkerboard pattern running east-west and north-south pattern every home could face south, permitting the winter sun to flow into the house throughout the day.|
|Cross section of a Roman heliocaminus. The term means "sun furnace." The Romans used the term to describe their south-facing rooms. They became much hotter in winter than similarly oriented Greek homes because the Romans covered their window spaces with mica or glass while the Greeks did not. Clear materials like mica or glass act as solar heat traps: they readily admit sunlight into a room but hold in the heat that accumulates inside. So the temperature inside a glazed window would rise well above what was possible in a Greek solar oriented home, making the heliocaminus truly a "sun furnace" when compared to its Greek counterpart.|
|Like the ancient Romans, the 18th century Dutch and others in Europe at the time, used glass-covered south-facing greenhouses to capture solar heat in wintertime to keep their exotic plants warm. To prevent the solar heat captured during the day from escaping, the Dutch covered the glass at night with canvas coverings.|
A 19th-century solar remodel: Architect Humphrey Repton turned a dull interior (left view) into a vibrant home by opening up the house to a south-facing greenhouse.
AMERICAN SOLAR HERITAGE
|An Aerial view of the tiered rows of houses at Acoma|
|An early California family posing in front of the their Spanish-Colonial adobe house|
|The colonial "salt box" house, typical of New England architecture of the 18th century.|
The Royal Institute of British Architects developed in the early 1930s the device shown in this photograph called the heliodon to help architects determine the effects of the sun on buildings before they went up. By mounting a model of a proposed structure on a rotating drawing board below a fixed light source simulating the sun, designers could easily ascertain the solar exposure of the proposed building.
THE 20TH CENTURY
|Advertisement for a prefabricated solar-oriented homeThe Nazis condemned functional architecture as Jewish and when they came to power, a good number of German architects designing solar buildings fled, many ending up in America. George Fred Keck, a Chicago architect, befriended some of these expatriates and through their influence began designing homes in the Chicago area according solar building principles - expansive south facing glass to trap the winter sun, long overhangs to shade the house in summer, minimal east-west exposure to prevent overheating in summer and fall, and the placement of secondary rooms, garages, and storage corridors on the north side to help insulate the living quarters from the cold north winds. Keck had a knack for publicity and called the houses he designed "solar homes." By the mid-forties Keck's work caught the attention of the national media. House Beautiful, Reader's Digest and Ladies Home Journal featured his work. Fuel rationing during the war inclined the American public toward valuing the energy saving features of solar homes. When war ended, the building market exploded. With the wartime-conservation ethic still imbued in most people's minds, many manufacturers in the prefabricated home industry adopted solar design features for leverage in this highly competitive market.|
|Interior view on a sunny winter day of the Tucson solar home designed by architect Arthur Brown. Sunlight streaming through the large expanse of south-facing window glass warms the masonry walls inside which pass the heat on to the living quarters after sundown.|
|The solar-heated Rose Elementary School in Tucson Arizona. It obtained over 80% of its heat from solar energy for an entire decade, beginning in 1948.|
|Aerial view of the Village Homes subdivision built in the late 1970s in Davis, California. The layout of the subdivision allowed every house to face the winter sun.|