The Adobe House


The first architectural project designed by the Center at the Sede-Boqer Campus was the "Adobe House" - designed, built and monitored in conjunction with the Applied Solar Calculations Unit of the J. Blaustein Institute. This project was one of the earliest examples of passive solar design in Israel, initiated in response to the energy crisis in the mid-1970ís.

The house was built entirely of adobe, or mud bricks, which were produced on-site from local loess soil, and dried in the sun - with virtually no investment of non-renewable energy.

Winter heating is provided passively, through a number of simple but effective strategies for solar collection and storage. The living area is heated by direct gain, with solar energy collected through a large south-facing window. In summer, the window is shaded by a trellis covered with deciduous vines. Energy is stored in the massive floor and walls, providing heat on cold winter nights.

Of particular interest is a rotating prism wall, installed in the south facade of the house's bedroom. During winter, the prism's dark face captures solar energy during the daytime, and at night it is rotated inwards, releasing stored energy to the building interior. In the summer, the prisms' light-colored, insulated faces are directed outward to avoid overheating.

A second bedroom, located on the northern side of the house, is supplied with solar heating as well - by a clerestory window which admits winter sunlight under the ridge of a pitched roof, which slopes upward to the south.

For summer cooling by night ventilation, a tower fitted with a wind catcher is oriented to the direction of the prevailing winds. Cool air descending from the tower is circulated through the house.

The building was found to be nearly energy independent - requiring only a fraction of the winter heating typical for houses of similar size in Sede-Boqer, and no air conditioning in summer.