General room orientation in house construction
This article is about collective brainstorming on the best general design (which can be used in any region/continent) for autonomous house construction.
Being inspired by the extreme reduction of rooms in houses in Japan and the simplification thereof (reducing it to sometimes only a single room), Feng Shui-room orientation and the ourcoolhouse.com-room orientation and concrete financial and ecologic advantage thereof, I have figured out a general guideline on what how many rooms may be discarded and how any remaining rooms are best placed together.
This guideline is thus intended to be used in figuring out one's own future building project, and it is not intended to be used as a fixed model.
Main focus would be put on:
- reduction of amount of rooms and simplification thereof; trough eg
- integrated cabinets into the wall itself
- hydraulic tables
- hammocks or retractable beds
- use of robotic vacuum cleaner
- hydraulic chairs or no chairs at all (swapping it for a pillow and the use of knee-sitting; this has health benefits eg on the plane of back-related problems, ligament jamming, ...
- heavy reduction in amount of kitchen appliances; keeping it to the only really needed kitchen appliances as electric stove, ...
- reduction of plumbing, piping needed (keeping rooms for washing clothes, boiler rooms, personal hygiene, ... together
- easy implementation of self-sufficiency functions and rooms (greenhouse, waste and water recovery, energy generation by windmills, ...)
- implementation of a single multifunction room with large open spaces (for morning exercises, media viewing, conferencing, ...)
- rooms in which dirt and food is employed/accumulated are kept together to keep spread out of dirt limited to only certain rooms. This is done by keeping shoes out of the building altogether (shoe box set at entrance), and rooms for eating, toilets, ... are semi-sealed off from the other rooms
Near the entrance a special shoe box is to be set, consisting of plancks stacked one over the other and placed at a slope. At the end of the slope is a chute with near the floor a dirt accumulation planck. This box would thus allow dirt from the shoes to fall from the shoes (trough the inclination of the shoe planks, down the chute and unto a dirt accumulation planck, hereby limiting dirt spread out and again reducing dirt of being brought in accidentally into the house via the entrance.
The toilet should also be well placed, allowing the use of composting loos and perhaps the reuse of the nutrients in the greenhouse.
In houses constructed within the scope of transforming an entire village to become self-sufficient, it is best not to include any kitchen, nor storage of any food within the house. This is necessary, so that within the village, a overall diet can be implemented to be followed by every villager. The diet would -as any diet- need to be conform regular calorie-intake (2000kcal/day). The storage of personal food within the house would be able to disrupt the controlled intake of calories. Instead, food would be prepared and consumed in buildings specifically constructed for this purpose (eg communal dining area and communal kitchen). The growing of vegetables however is less of a problem, as these contain very only little kcalories.
The house may be set-up as a cube of steel and glass with movable interior walls. A similar system has been used the Quantum house (see http://www.omslag.nl/wonen/ecobouw.html ) and in for example the house G at Embourg build by Eric Grondal (see http://www.architectegrondal.be/ ). As such, the lay-out can still be changed. Also, the use of natural materials and or wooden blinds can be embedded in this practice (as done in this house).
If in-home food growing by crops is to be used, the house may be fitted with a wooden frame (as used for in fire escalators/house construction) which is sealed with a glass from the second floor (lower floors not needed). As such, a sort of trombe wall is formed. After the glass, a bottle wall may be set up (using natural ink on plant-based resources (see the Integral Urban House design on this). The bottle wall is made from 1/2l glass jugs filled with (organic) ink is set up and supported bu 2 extra windows, set right after the first glass of the "Trombe wall". The bottle wall will heat the plants/room at night due to its function as a heat sink. At the above floors, food crops can be grown at the side (similar to Waymond Ip's vertical farm design (see http://www.verticalfarm.com/images/design/ip/Waimond_Ip.pdf). The roof may be accessed by a ladder. the sides of the glass wall are not to be done and instead a ducted fan (eg Motorwave-type) may be placed. The roof can be oversized so that is slightly hangs over the 4 sides (more offcourse to the glass-side and a little tilted yet still very flat) if natural building is used to protect it from rain and environment (eg with adobe walls, ...). Also, the roof may be sloped very slightly in 2 directions so that water rolling down the roof may be caught by a attached raingutter and can be immediately collected and transferred to a filter and then to a water tank. The water tank may be placed immediately under the roof so that it can operate (almost completely) gravity fed (and doesn't require a pump or electricity). The filtered, potable water may be used for domestic purposes. As such, shoes again can always be left outside the housing itself.
Deviation to adjust to climate differences 
Room orientation deviation depending on system employed in area of the world (tropics or temperate zones). The room orientation would also be dependent based on the house design/room setup itself, depending on the area of the world where the house is to be set-up. For example in the tropics, houses are ideally to be spaced towards the wind and heightened (to allow low-cost ventilation and cooling) while in temperate zones, the use of earth shelters (or underground living) is best always employed to conserve heat/energy/costs, ... In the tropics other (and cheaper) materials are more abundant as well as bamboo for construction, while this is not sturdy enough or cheap in temperate zones.
Other designs depending on region 
Some deviations of the design are possible: Especially in politically unstable regions (eg Sudan, Algeria, Libya, ...) completely or earthsheltered buildings are more suitable. These buildings should be build with a strong material (eg concrete). To reduce costs, the building should be communal (housing at least 8 people). This because the increased cost of material (concrete) and the digging. Although placing the structure completely underground is more secure (completely invisible, stronger, ...) a placement of the structure above ground, yet completely covered with a layer of soil (eg 20-40cm) can be used if there is esthethic objection against complete digging in (eg fear of cave-in, obstruction of exits, lack of terras (eg for recreation, growing plants, easier water harvesting, ...)).
In island nations, the design above may be used, but the poles need strengthening (to withstand currents and intensive waves). This can be done by concrete/steel poles (eg instead of wood). Another option for islands is to use a ship (eg container ship) converted to a house boat to accommodate a large community.
More information 
- Feng Shui
- Documentairy seen on room simplification in Japan
- The glass jug wall inspired by Steve Baer's Bead/Drum-wall (which has a number of interesting other orientation designs such as zomes and inventions which would change room set-up (eg Skylight trackers and Track-Rack solar trackers)