Sustainable Housing in Chilean Patagonia: From Greenhouse to Dwelling
The complete lack of a sustainable housing market in the cold and rainy context of Valdivia, Southern Chile (39°49’ S, 73°14’ W), draws the need to find an affordable solution for the construction of energy-efficient living spaces. A team of architects undertook the challenge, whilst acknowledging other environmental issues such as the use of recycled materials. Based on research, the greenhouse principle was the focus of the design, as it dealt with prevailing weather conditions in a more proper fashion, by maximising daylight and solar gains during the long, cold winter, and also by allowing small-scale farming all year round, amongst other features. The greenhouse was thought to perform more as an in-between space -in terms of temperature and lightning- to all common zones in a house (e.g., a doorway or a living room), rather than applying to each inhabited space, individually. The architects researched on the above qualities to see whether they applied to the new prototype or not. Both potential overheating -in the short warm season- and glare risks were taken into account, by conducting specific environmental assessments (e.g., natural lighting levels) on both physical and virtual models.
Keywords: Environmental design, sustainable dwellings, Southern Chile, extreme weather.