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September 13, 2011 / bjh3ev

Assignment 01: Solar Path

This assignment challenged us to find a site with a variety of obstruction and visibility and document the path that the sun would follow throughout the day and over the course of the year. I chose the field located at Madison Bowl, off Rugby Road because it is a unique large clearing that seems like it would receive sunlight year round, and I wanted to use a sun chart to see if that was actually the case.

As a sunken valley, the sun exposure of the open field is highly impacted by the height of the buildings and trees around it. The obstruction from each of the three-story fraternity houses has the same effect as a four-story building due to the additional 10-feet that the field is sunk down.

What times of year and times of day make up the primary solar window?

There is an opening in the sky above the building on the South end of Mad Bowl, meaning that there will be sun exposure from 11am to 1pm year round. Besides this time of day, the significant presence of tree cover means that the primary solar window is found during the Summer–more precisely from April to September. There are more trees on the West side than the East, so generally the direct exposure during the morning is greater than in the afternoon.

How might you respond to this as an architect with respect to the siting and orientation of your meeting place?

If I were to design a meeting place sited in the center of Mad Bowl, I would definitely react to the direct midday sunlight that would hit the South side of my building and exploit it to warm the building in the Winter–however, that would also mean the need for an artificial cooling mechanism in the Summer or some way to provide shade when desired. Almost no sunlight reaches the site from mid to late afternoon, so there would need to be a way to make use of all available indirect light.


EDIT: updated panorama, added to response as an architect