pattern language

Components of New Settlements Nine — Heating and Ventilation (Crawlspace)


You will surmise from this series that I am not a technician, a builder, a designer, an architect or any of the other professionals who  might qualify me to speak with authority on these subjects. I am merely telling you what is in my head. I assume I am either pretty right or simply off the mark. All I know is that I have believed in car-free human settlements for five decades. And I can see what I am talking about though I cannot draw it.

In an early issue of Mother Earth News — in the 60s I think — I read a wonderful notion of how space could be both heated and ventilated. It consisted of nothing more than a crawlspace that would exist underneath the floor, with vents placed around the sides of the room and a heating element in the center of the room. Somehow this led t a cooling off when cool was needed and a sensible way of warming things up when warmth was required.

I offer this merely to suggest that a component of my proposed settlements would be crawlspace platforms. I have imagined spaces within the skeleton frame.  These are areas large enough to create residences and other things within.  The contents of spaces would include MODULES — the actual containers of rooms and other interior areas and SMALL COURTS or COVERED AREAS or OUTBUILDINGS. Beneath the contents of spaces I would propose that there be standardized CRAWLSPACES which would be the means of much of the heating and ventilation. They would be strong enough to support modules and with modules in place they would be calibrated in such a way that the floors of modules would have vents that could suck up cold or warm air depending on the need.

A caveat: Even if it could be shown that some version of a crawlspace would be less valuable than something else, I would argue that the heating and cooling elements of a space be part of a platform unit. Thus a space would have

a platform and


and be held together and supported by a skeleton

which would include within it the channels needed to provide energy

and enable the recycling of waste.