Black River Construction Plymouth County, Massachusetts – 1976

The goal of this project was to create an inexpensive passively-heated home. The house is a standard “raised ranch” commonly built by a local contractor and is set into a south-facing hillside. Black River Construction designed and built the south wall which is entirely translucent or transparent. The upper floor wall, where not windows, consists of a layer of bowed translucent fiberglass and three layers of Dupont Tedlar separated by 1″ dead airspaces. Inside the quadruple glazing is an aluminized canvas shade in tracks that can be closed at night or during cloudy weather to suppress convection and retain heat. Overheating is controlled by a wall of sealed 5 gallon drums containing water, antifreeze and corrosion inhibitor. The lower floor the wall is double-glazed and backed by operable insulated louvers. An insulated concrete floor slab provides thermal mass.

stafford_ext 2 320

South elevation


stafford_ext 320

Steel columns and X-braces support lower level

Stafford passive_louvers 320

Operable insulated louvers on lower level

Stafford Interior 320

Thermal storage wall

Stafford exterior close-up 320

Bowed fiberglass protects inner layers of plastic film

Stafford passive_shade 320

Insulated shade behind thermal storage wall