A very different project for us at Sunlight Homes, this contemporary set of four, small, loft apartments was designed for graduate students and young professionals who what to live near the University of New Mexico, which is one of the most walkable areas in the state. Each apartment is only 492 square feet, but with the addition of a very generous 275 square foot loft they live much larger! Despite being small, these apartments are packed with clever space and energy saving features.
These dwellings are as passive solar as possible and to store the solar heat that is collected, they each feature six, eighteen inch diameter by ten foot tall translucent cylinders of water that are placed directly in front of the south-facing windows. The concrete slab and double layers of 5/8” sheetrock add even more mass for heat storage. With this much thermal mass, the temperature stays comfortably consistent year round. The water tubes also help break up the light and give the spaces a unique contemporary architectural feel.
In order to properly shade the large, south facing windows during the summer, a metal louver system was custom designed to keep the interior comfortably cool. In cold weather, the warm, south sunlight is allowed to shine in, heating the water tubes during the day and providing natural heat all night. Each apartment has its own outdoor space, defined by board-formed concrete planters. These outdoor spaces are recessed from the main walkway patio and the steps act as informal seating for the gathering spaces. A critical aspect of the design was to create a shared outdoor space that would facilitate incidental social interactions between the tenants.
These apartments are a contemporary example of environmentally responsible and socially progressive residential architecture.