Last night I had a dream I was stuck in a basement. When I climbed up the stairs I was in the attic. Where was the house? I wondered. Then I realized that this was the house; that architects and real estate developers have spent fifty years ignoring basements and attics to get more bang for the buck in their buildings; that maybe we should return to an architecture of basements and attics if only for the green benefits.
Instead of designing just living space and throwing an oversized HVAC system to regulate heat gain and air flow, etc., we should consider an architecture that connects to the earth and reaches to the sky. We should look at that remarkable produce storage mechanism that relies solely on the passage of air from the basement to the attic, the California Cooler, a staple in the California Bungalow of the early 20th century.
People lived for years without the benefit of air-conditioning; if we could employ a few time-tested passive means to achieving energy efficiency in our buildings, perhaps we wouldn’t need to overload the grid with electricity demand. We could save energy costs and improve the quality of indoor air at the same time, never mind the added storage space.
What could be cooler than that?