Learning from Historic Arizona Houses: Territorial Technology Tips for Home Comfort
Difficulty Rating: Easy
The 1917 Ellis-Shackelford House - Phoenix and its low technology methods for home comfortA century ago in 1912, Phoenix homeowners were served by utility systems that supplied electricity, telephone, water, sewer, and natural gas. Homeowners could also buy coal, firewood, and block ice. But, evaporative coolers would not be widely available until about 1933. Affordable home air conditioners would arrive in about 1960. How did anyone in territorial-era Phoenix survive without air conditioning? Remember how, during a summer storm, you lost power and air conditioning for a few hours or more. What if suddenly your home had no working air conditioner for a full summer?
First, take the RYDEN ARCHITECTS’ TERRITORIAL TECHNOLOGY CHALLENGE: Facing the environmental conditions of Phoenix without air conditioning, consider modifying your existing house using technology available one hundred years ago.
Next, learn Territorial Technology Tips for home comfort for living in the desert Southwest* from the 1917 Ellis-Shackelford House, a progressive estate home blending Prairie and Craftsman styles with built-in environmental technology, as designed by local architect R. A. Gray for prominent physician William C. Ellis.
*This new wording emphasizes that even in 1917 informed people were modifying popular house designs that were inappropriate for desert climate. This exemplifies the never-ending architectural struggle between style and substance in an effort to make buildings not only fashionable but also practical. Today, production housing developers compete to meet the popular demand for affordable “products” that are both trendy and green. (Don Ryden says, "I would recommend striving for regionally-inspired homes that are timeless and sustainable as demonstrated by Wright’s Organic Architecture philosophy.")
Then, use those low-tech ideas to make your home more energy efficient.
THE FOUR COMFORT FACTORS:
T = Temperature; H = Humidity; A = Airflow; X = eXposure
Tip 2 & 3
- Deep roof overhangs all around house shade second floor walls
- Insulated, ventilated attic protects rooms from heat
Tip 4 & 5
- Vine-covered pergola at west facade shades the first floor kitchen and laundry
- Sleeping porches at second floor on west facade catches breezes
Tip 6 & 7
- Rain gutters and leaders harvest water into underground cistern
- Raised basement with windows all around provides cool refuge in earth-protected rooms
- Solar water heater provides heating of water