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Sawtooth Saltbox

March 22, 2010

Well here’s my passive solar, well insulated, ISO. shipping container home concept.  It was quite a bit “O” fun to build this.  It’s heavily laden with Google warehouse components and I spent so much time editing the components that I probably would of done better to have made the whole thing from scratch.  Every time I open this file I run the risk of crashing my computer ( it’s my third biggest file).

When I finished this design I sent it to Michael Janzen who has the “Tiny House Design” blog.  The Sawtooth Saltbox isn’t exactly small but like the Sketch-up work that I did – the passive solar design and …..well, shipping container homes are pretty darn cool.

Here’s the part that I dread – writing about the design – I’ll just plunge head first into it and try to get through it in a quick and understandable fashion.  The Sawtooth is made of two 40′ containers and two 20′ containers arranged in a jagged zigzag pattern ( hence “Sawtooth”) This arrangement allows to open up the width of the home past the 8′ of the container to make the space more usable while retaining the structural integrity of the containers .  The windows on this model or facing south to capitalize on the suns energy – heating the houses tile floor ( which would be a radiant heat floor) with the direct rays of the sun.  In the summer the sun sits higher in the sky so good roof over hangs will block out the direct rays of sun – this will keep the house cooler in the summer. The Sawtooth was designed with most of your window space on the south and east faces.  The east facing windows will help heat the home with the early rising sun – to help heat the house when it is at it coolest.  Good window shades will help block out the direct morning sun on summer mornings.

The Sawtooth has 2″x6″ wooden frames on the inside south and east walls – a soy base insulation foam would be sprayed inside this frame  ( the soy foam is said to have a R-value of 7 giving these walls a R-42 value.  These frames would be “skinned” with larch panels which a sustainable forest product and has a warm orange-y tone.  I have steel plates welded to the corners of the exteriors of these walls ( in the elevation images).  On the inside you would cut holes through the steel walls of the containers in these places, with 3″ hole saw – this would allow the insulation to push into the corners –  this would prevent air leaks ( energy nose bleeds) at the corners.  I have insulation materials on the exteriors of the north and west walls.  These walls would have a larger R- value to protect the house from the cold north winds of winter and the from the heat of the summer afternoon sun.  Small windows would be put on these walls at the top with wooden shutters on them – this would let the heat of the summer out on the west walls and would winterize the northern wall windows.  I had an earth-bag insulation design in mind when I created this model – poly. bags filled with insulation materials like perlite  or a lava rock called scoria . Kelly Hart has used this method in his earth-bag home with great success.

The Sawtooth Saltbox was one of my first Sketch-up projects  ( over a year and a half ago) .  When I first downloaded Sketch-up I was very fascinated with shipping container homes and boxes are about the easiest things to draw in GSU.  I sat on this design for about a year and pulled it out again last fall and completely reworked it – I wanted to build a single story house (wheel chair accessible) and I wanted to give it a very detailed floor plan so I could get a clear idea on how to layout such a house.   This would be why it looks like the “bachelor pad from hell” with a colour scheme of a  Hergé’s “Tin Tin” graphic novel ( I was reading ” Tin Tin, Explorers on the Moon” at the time ).

The roof took a bit of thought, I wanted something that would shed the north winds at the back and have a good facade area in the front for solar panels.  Something like a salt-box roof.  I made several elevations with 3 conjoined roof designs but they were less then inspiring.  I finally thought I would take a stab a a modernist take on the Salt-box roof that would bring the whole house together ( instead of making it look like 3 conjoined houses) and I wanted an overhang over the main entrance to give a visual clue as to where the door was.  With this in mind I whipped up this elevation in about 20 minutes.  It’s probably the most visually satisfying thing I have done in Sketch-up.

So there you have your basic passive solar home build inside a (“my goodness you live inside steel boxes”) shipping containers.

I don’t know why but it takes a lot out of me to explain this design, so if you have any specific questions on the Sawtooth Saltbox please write and I will try to make it clearer.

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 9, 2013 2:45 am

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