The "Neve-Zin" Desert Solar Neighborhood
Climate-conscious design depends not only on individual buildings, but on their urban context - on the relationship of one to another, and to the spaces created between them. Overlooking the dramatic Zin Valley adjacent to the Sede-Boqer Camps, the Neve-Zin neighborhood is the first building cluster of its kind in Israel. Its uniqueness stems from the neighborhood master plan, which was designed by the Center's architects. The plan and its guidelines are adapted to the climatic conditions of the desert highlands in a number of key ways:
- Each building lot has been guaranteed full solar access in winter, to maximize the potential for passive solar heating and encourage its utilization.
- A pedestrian realm is created in which paths are protected from sun, winds and dust. Water and maintenance-intensive public landscaping is limited to small areas, while private gardens are sized to residents' preferences.
Building lots are clustered in groups of four, with each lot containing a point at its outer corner on which the individual house must stand. In this way, public paths are tightly defined by the protecting walls of adjacent buildings, while open space at the center of each cluster is reserved for private landscaping.
Solar rights are ensured by limiting the height of each building in relation to the winter sun, and in this way restricting the shadows cast on the adjacent lot to the north. An imaginary "bulk plane" sloping upward at a prescribed angle from the adjacent lot's southern setback line defines the volumetric limits of the building or any other obstruction, ensuring solar access to each house throughout a winter day.
Vehicular streets are oriented in an east-west orientation. While maintaining a pedestrian character, they are wide enough to separate between neighboring north and south lots, making it easier to ensure solar rights.
Pedestrian walkways, on the other hand, are oriented north-south. Only 2.5 meters wide, they are shaded during morning and afternoon hours on a summer day by flanking walls, and will be further protected by vine-covered trellises specified in the master plan.
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In addition to climatic considerations, the design of Neve-Zin is distinguished by a common design language, which specifies building morphology, geometry of openings, and finish materials, and encourages a cohesive neighborhood fabric.
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For more info see: Etzion Y., "A desert solar neighborhood in Sede-Boker Israel," Architectural Science Review, Vol. 33, pp. 103-109, 1989.