Text description provided by the architects. In northern climates, the effectiveness of solar energy is greatly diminished. With the 5th highest electricity cost in the country, the requisite for solar energy is even more pronounced in Massachusetts. The unique roof geometry of the Tung House is optimized for a two-fold solution that achieves net-zero energy use: PV and hot water solar panels provide power and heating while the resulting overhangs are calibrated for summer shading and winter solar access.
The design solution attempts to converge the technical aspects of sustainability and code restrictions with spatial experience and sequence. Although the property is relatively large at 42,000 sf, only 2,800 sf of the lot is buildable as it is on the edge of designated wetlands. While the massing adheres to these tight setbacks, the roof breaks free of the house’s orthogonal geometry to optimize solar orientation.
As the town ordinance strictly limits disturbing the site, the section of the house follows the natural contours creating a split-level condition. The result is a continuous experience from public, semi-public, and private spaces. As one enters, a view directly connects the front of the house to the preserved landscape of the backyard. An open stair is a communicating core connecting loft-like living and kitchen areas to a mezzanine and bedrooms above. Even as the house is open, the geometry of the roof creates dynamic spatial conditions, defining diverse areas of use.
In terms of the project statistics, the house is intentionally designed at 2,900 sf in contrast to the 5,000 sf houses currently being constructed in the area. The compact size is a careful negotiation between energy use, building form, and budget. 37 PV panels generate 1200kW per month, well over the 900kW estimated monthly average. In the summer months, the excess energy is transferred back to the city’s power grid. 3 additional solar hot water panels supply 100% of the house’s hot water requirements including the radiant floor heating system for the fall and winter seasons.