Bright-Minded Home – November 2013

BRIGHT-MINDED HOME – November 2013

Q+A with architect Stuart Crocker about Crocker Pond House


Bethel architect Stuart Crocker was both behind the 1970s energy crisis and ahead of today’s energy-efficiency trends when he built the Crocker Pond House in 1993. With a nod to A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander, which has influenced his design thinking since first published in 1977, he offers some time-tested, inexpensive, and common sense planning elements that anyone can use to build a smarter home.


-Orient buildings on 45th parallel at +/- 12 degrees east of south to maximize solar gain and favor morning sun.
-Use shading and vegetation on west and north sides to protect from prevailing winds and stronger afternoon sun.
-Place screen porch on northeast side for coolest location for afternoon and evening use.

Floor Plan

-Design a long thin house with high windows to allow sun to penetrate deeper into rooms.
-Place common rooms and bedrooms on south side for solar gain, and service spaces, bathrooms, and hallways on north side.
-Create higher ceilings in south and lower in north to maximize incoming light and add contrast.


-Use double-wall construction or dense-pack cellulose and spray foam insulation.
-Put stairways and chimneys in central location to bring heat upstairs in winter.
-Make use of stack effect by opening low downstairs windows and upstairs skylights to allow cooler air in and hot air to rise up and out.
-Place windows on two sides in each room and closer to corners so light reflects off walls for more uniform light.
-Add overhanging dormers and sunshades to keep out higher summer sun.
-Use smaller windows on the north side to minimize heat loss and offer picture-frame views.   

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