Environmentally Sound Building

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The intent of this case study is to investigate a structure that relies on “old” technology to achieve environmental sustainability. Working in a team of two, students were to select a building that relies on natural elements to achieve comfort. Students must identify three historic references that have been adapted to the particular building which contribute to the building’s overall sustainability.

Dominus Winery:
Located in Napa Valley, California, the Dominus Winery was designed by the architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron. It was awarded the Pritzker Prize for 2001. The building is set far back from the main road and is surrounded on all sides by the accompanying vineyard. The orientation is based off of the rows of grapes and aids in the overall sustainability of the building. The majority of the glazing is located along the North Elevation to reduce the heat gain that would penetrate from the South Elevation. The walls are a double-shell structure that utilizes gabion walls. This solution offers both natural light and natural ventilation.

Site Plan


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Historic Lineage #1
Gabion Walls

Walls are wire mesh filled with locally quarried stone, commonly used in river engineering
Smaller stones at the bottom minimize pest penetration while large stones at the top allow for more natural light and ventilation
Natural light filters in during the day, while artificial light penetrates out at night
Conditioned spaces utilize a double-skin wall with glazing adjacent to the gabion wall

Gabion wall

Historic Lineage #2

Historic Roman construction
Direct openings to the outside
Allows for natural light, ventilation, and temperature control


Historic Lineage #3
Ancient Egyptian House

Heavy masonry exterior walls
Utilizes concept of thermal mass for temperature control in hot climates
Slow rate of thermal transfer allows stones to become cool over night and helps maintain cooler temperature throughout the day

Egyptian House

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