Step 11 – Orientation

Step 11 – Orientation (PDF)
Step 11 – Orientation (Page 1)
Step 11 – Orientation (Page 2)
Step 11 – Orientation (Page 3)

  • Murray


    Hello Matthew and John,

    Sorry to hear John is ill, and best wishes for a quick recovery. Alberta’s deep-freeze won’t help matters.

    This chapter deals with a very straightforward concept, as Matthew said in the video. Because of this tight focus I think the chapter is quite successful. Good work.

    My red-lining mostly offers points for consideration.

    I will admit to having many misgivings about the “Context” chapter, and am ruminating before commenting. Moo!

  • JimG

    Hi Matthew, tell John to have lots of hot buttered rum for his cold. (It won’t cure it, but will make him happy he’s sick…)

    What I see as a problem with this section is that to me it fails to convey that even in a “cold climate” houses need to be looked at for hot weather as well. So many houses put all the thought into keeping the heat in winter that it seems as if no thought goes into natural cooling and we have to resort to mechanical A/C.

  • Jane

    This is an important topic and glad that it gets its own section.

    One thing I would like to see added is ventilation. I believe that a house can be saved from A/C if there is ventilation, and who wants to be in a house that you can’t get fresh air? Air circulation in the winter is also important so that rooms are not too cold and others too hot.

  • Terri

    I found that Murray’s comments basically mirrored my own notes so I won’t bother with the scanning.

    Some slight differences to Murray’s are following:
    I suggest a complete compass for the section’s logo since the way it is now seems to suggest that north is most important.

    As for the first sentence…possibly what Matthew says on the blog is a good into: Orientation is how a house relates to the sun. (As in other sections, jumping straight to how fast houses fail seems to set in motion a negative mindset.)

    I agree with moving the last part of the paragraph up to be next after the introductory sentence. And the “Many fast houses…” sentence follow that one, but with the phrase “…do not consider the path of the sun.” to end it.
    Then I’d remove the whole sentence of “This is because the house design is not based on the type or orientation of the lot.” This idea seems self-evident given the preceding sentences.

    Other than this, I have nothing more to add except that I believe Orientation might go before Context because no matter the context, the orientation is even more important to overall livability (IMHO).

  • Doug Roberts

    Orientation to the sun is merely one of a number of factors that impact daylighting, heating/cooling and usability of outdoor living spaces, and should be dealt with as such in the context of an evaluation of those aspects of a house. Other factors that impact daylighting include location and size of windows/skylights/solatubes, size, shape and layout of the house, etc. Other factors that impact heating/cooling include HVAC systems, location and size of openable windows, screen doors, roof overhangs, insulation, landscaping, etc. Other factors that impact usability of outdoor living spaces include size, shape, location relative to indoor living spaces, landscaping, privacy, protection from wind and rain, noise, etc. Giving orientation its own section may cause readers to place too much importance on it relative to the many other factors to be considered when evaluating those aspects of a house.

  • jim baer


    welcome matthew. i hope john is feeling well soon.

    i thought the side bar was good, clear and concise.

    other than that, my redlines are attached.

  • BradW

    I thought the section on orientation succeeds in raising awareness of this important issue. All the pitfalls help define the problem. Since more than half of the existing and future housing will NOT be ideally oriented, I think you could go further. Doug Roberts makes a very good point that many factors can influence daylighting. These same factors and techniques can be used to beneficial effect.

  • MichaelG


    I have no critic of the actual text of the section, Jim and Murray and others are far more capable than I at that, but I do have query/suggestion.
    I wonder if there is scope here to include other orientation considerations, such as the orientation of the front entrance to the street or neighboring properties. Not just orientation to weather elements.

    A couple of examples of what I mean.
    I saw this a house I was considering renting that was on the corner of a a one way through road that carries a lot of speeding taxis, and a small alleyway.

    Floor plan is attached, and this is a street view of the house:,139.673537&sspn=0.01904,0.040426&g=%E6%9D%B1%E4%BA%AC%E9%83%BD%E4%B8%96%E7%94%B0%E8%B0%B7%E5%8C%BA%E4%B8%89%E5%AE%BF%EF%BC%92&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Japan,+T%C5%8Dky%C5%8D+Metropolis+Setagaya+Ward%E4%B8%89%E5%AE%BF%EF%BC%92%E4%B8%81%E7%9B%AE%EF%BC%91%EF%BC%96%E2%88%92%EF%BC%94&ll=35.650958,139.675895&spn=0.00119,0.002527&t=h&z=19&layer=c&cbll=35.650934,139.675788&panoid=vqNbSol-yzKSICUZplFI3A&cbp=12,40.93,,0,-2.45

    Of course there were no other cars on the street when google’s van drove down it.
    In built up areas of Tokyo, they tend to funnel cars between major roads through small one way streets, and taxis tend to speed down them… Bad urban planning in most cases.

    If the developer of this house simply oriented the front door to the side alley, I would have probably rented it. As it is now, if my two year old son opened the front door, he’d be two steps away from a speeding taxi. But this is a developer house, and they couldn’t really care less about that… Just follow the plan…

    Or townhouse developments, where they will often mirror two connected townhouses and have the front entrances literally next to each other, like the second attachment. Not too private. And this is in their stylized mock-up. Imagine how bad the real thing will be, especially if you didn’t like your neighbors!
    How about putting the garages next to each other, and the entrances on the outer sides? Simple change that might also allow some windows to light the long corridor that takes you past the garage and into the house proper.

  • Elizabeth


    Thanks, J and M, for this. You bring up good points about location and size of windows. Wish I’d had some of these pointers when designing our house!

  • MichaelG

    Hah! I just re-read the first sentence of my previous comment. No way should I ‘critic’ your work…

  • DHT

    John, I’ve been following your website for some time now, although I have not participated in any of the comments. I don’t know if this is the right place to use to send you this message, but I hope you will not remove the existing content of the website after Monday when you revamp the website for the new launch you just announced. BTW, congratulations on your website and for undertaking this next huge step. I’ve also got my first chance to make a very quick stop at your office and take a quick look at your space above the coffee shop. I am looking forward to a longer visit one of these days.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the comment. Don’t worry. We are archiving this site in its entirety. It will be available through a link on the new site. I am glad that you have joined us and that you find the information useful. I encourage you to participate in the new project – there are lots of ways to get involved.