A Cool Concept

Lined up on an axis with the open-air foyer, the courtyard pool serves as a striking focal point for all the living spaces, including the entry.

September 01, 2004

 

Photo by Tony Hernandez
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Festive Fortress

Lined up on an axis with the open-air foyer, the courtyard pool serves as a striking focal point for all the living spaces, including the entry. But this functional beauty does more to mitigate the hot, dry Arizona climate than to provide the owners and their guests with an opportunity for a dip. Through a clever combination of modern technology and good old Mother Nature, the pool and the water fountain wall that adjoins it create their own "evaporative-cooled" micro-climate.

A misting system, which sprays fountains of water into the air from the sides of the pool, raises the level of humidity throughout the interior courtyard, particularly under the covered areas. The temperature difference between the cool moist air within the courtyard and the hot, dry air outside it encourages natural breezes that further cool the space.

"It really acts like one big evaporation cooler," says architect James Hann. "This process works very well for this climate. It is almost a throwback to how homes were cooled in the days before there were mechanical systems to do that job."

The exposed-on-the-underside clay tiles, used for the courtyard roof overhangs, also contribute to the cooling breezes that keep this area comfortable enough for the homeowners to use year-round. The tiles rest on a latticework created using 3x4-inch timbers that lay perpendicular to the structural beams of the roof. "The openings between the tiles permit drafts in and out of the space, facilitating the entire under-roof cooling process," says Hann.

As an added bonus for the homeowners, who are avid gardeners and grow a variety of edible plants within the courtyard, the higher humidity benefits the vegetation as well.

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