To make good decisions, it is necessary to have some basic knowledge. The audience has shown great interest in the following slide from Lars Pettersson’s lecture about passive house design. Some engineers and architects know what U-values are, but how many have a feeling for how it works?
Look at some award-winning Irish houses presented in Clare county councils otherwise brilliant: “Rural design guide” Observe all the catch-words in the presentation:
“Some examples of award wining contemporary houses in the Irish countryside, illustrating well-considered design solutions (use of light, space, new building technologies) , for modern living requirements along with appropriate use of modern and vernacular materials within the particular context of their respective sites (siting, landscaping, proportions and massing). Each house illustrated has answered the criteria for their specific locations.”
No wonder that people are totally confused when the guidelines published by the authorities themselves seem so contradictory. Most of the recommended designs are very poor from a cost-performance and energy-performance point of view. We find it difficult to understand how some of these designs complement or fit in to the rural landscape of Ireland.
Cork county council rural design-guide is also excellent in part, but sometimes one wonders if they too live in a British time-capsule 100 years back down there. They claim under “Good construction”:
“Slate continues very slightly over gable, with or without propriety edge trim”
i.e. they want us to build without protective eaves and gable overhang! Pretty? Maybe, but blatantly wrong. It invites water-penetration into the external walls and this is not good for any type of house, but for a well-insulated wall very serious problems can arise.
Pictured to the right. This house illustrates Cork County Councils idea of:
“simple first principles with a view to developing more appropriate and well-mannered rural buildings”
Download the guideline here. Excellent about windows and many other aspects, quite suitable for other areas too. http://www.corkcoco.ie/co/pdf/578944050.pdf
Our point is not to attack the architects who designed these “modern” award-winning houses, or their owners, who hopefully live happily in their expensive design-houses. The point is that
the planning offices in some parts of Ireland refuse to allow house types that are sustainable and energy efficient and affordable in practice. All the talk in the world does not make huge wasteful architect-dreams perform any better, or prevent water-leaks emanating from hidden rain-gutters, flat roofs and non existing protective eaves.
The authorities and the profession in our field sounds a bit like the government and the banks a few years ago: “soft landing”, “sustainable growth”, “financial regulator second to none” -do you remember? Words lost their meaning because too few challenged the establishment and their description of the reality at the time.