Case Study of the Modern Ruin in Santa Fe, New Mexico

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Modern Ruin

(Picture 1: Modern Ruin)

Modern Ruin located in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the USA. Santa Fe is sub-tropical climate, perennial controlled by Subtropical anticyclones. It should be hot and dry during entire year. However, it is chilly in the winter and warm in the summer due to high elevation. Temperature varies greatly between day and night during summer. Santa Fe is desiccated, with less than twenty percent humidity sometimes. Because of this kind of climate and weather conditions, people need to build the different forms of building to adapt to the climate and purposes. To be more specific, they need to build a house which is cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Modern Ruin achieves certain innovation based on satisfying people’s basic needs of adopting climate.

As for traditional Pueblo architecture, people prefer to install few doors and windows so that retain heat during the winter and maintain cool during the summer. However, in order to achieve these kinds of conditions, Modern Ruin adopts two window strategies. Firstly, all windows are small, because small window can prevent sunlight in the day and heating loss rapidly at the that provide comfortable indoor temperature for residents. Furthermore, Santa Fe is a very dry area, blowing dust is inevitable. The design of small window also can avoid entering into the house. Secondly, most of windows are face towards north direction. According to the trajectory of sun, the north-facing windows decrease the direct sunlight effectively.

The entry of this building faces towards north direction. This is not only beneficial to avoid cold wind in the winter, but also make achievement of cross ventilation in the summer. The outdoor air remain its original temperature enter into indoor area, and then mix with indoor air in the process of flow. In fact, heat exchanges according to the temperature difference between indoor and outdoor and all the internal surfaces. As organization of RIBA points out natural ventilation has several benefits such as low running cost, zero energy consumption and so on. Natural ventilation also regard as healthy living environment factor.

Modern Ruin is organized in an “L” shaped plan. The corner of the “ L “ becomes a courtyard to some extent. The form of courtyard building is particular significance for arid regions. First reason is the design of courtyard creates ventilation and regulates the flow of air. It can bring fresh air into indoor area. Most of the ancient Pueblo architecture also applied courtyard

(Picture 2: L shaped plan)

Because of high temperature in summer, keep cool temperature becomes significant needs from residents. Therefore, Architect decides to use overhanging roof above the window which can intercepts the sunlight in the summer. In this way, overhangs avoiding direct sunlight and providing more comfortable environment for people to living. As picture 3 shows, overhanging provide shadow for residents so that people can sit comfortable under there. Furthermore, architects also use roof to decrease internal temperature. The roof of Modern Ruin is flat, not like gothic architectures have spires. The flat roof helps to retain the water and decrease the internal temperature. Other convenient for residents is providing a place where can dry stuffs which they want. The design of green roof also becomes a creative part in this building.

(Picture 2: Overhanging above the window)

(Picture 3: people sit under overhang)

In order to recall the traditional style of Pueblo architecture, Modern Ruin tried to be a kind of building which combined with ancient and cotemporary. For the facade, it looks similar with ancient buildings but it is not exactly same. Architect uses exposed rammed earth and rusting steel panels as mainly materials. Because it is chilly in winter in this area, thick rammed earth wall can provide protection against cold weather. For the whole day, thick wall can help to block the sunlight in the day, however, it also resist cold wind at the night. Rammed earth formwork milled down to finish lumber finally and gave residents smooth external wall to live. Although this area is a place where has large temperature difference between day and night, Modern Ruin adopts traditional thick wall and creative uses of materials to balance human needs. The inside of Modern Ruin also has difference with traditional Pueblo architecture. As picture 5 shows, theexposed steels give a sense of industrial. Corrugated decking, fixtures, and exposed conduit become contemporary elements in this building. It is worth mentioning that the materials used in this deign are reused materials. It is means the design of Modern Ruin attempt to be environmental. Excavation soil was used in the rammed earth mixture. If this building was destroyed one day, the materials will return to the earth.

(Picture 4: inside wooden surface)

(Picture 5 exposed steels and wooden wall)

There are plenty of differences between traditional Pueblo architecture and Modern Ruin, even though Modern Ruin also has significant characters of Pueblo architecture. For the similarity, Modern Ruin also uses vigas, flat roof and similar facade with traditional Pueblo architecture. But the most creative part may be there are a number of sustainable features. Using passive solar orientation is most important part for this design. Solar-thermal radiant floor heating is applied in Modern Ruin. It provides warm environment during chilly winter. In general, radiant-floor heating systems commonly relate to PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) tubing embedded in slabs. Hot water is pumped through the tubes and then resulting in slab becomes warm and slowly radiates heat into the inside of the building. Because of less rainfall, collect rainwater is necessary for local residents. Rain fall is stored on one place when it falls, and infiltrated into the ground for landscapes and groundwater recharge. Therefore, in this building design, catchment of water and reuse of gray water are created, which are beneficial to maintain surrounding plants such as aspen trees, limber pines and so forth.

The factors effects this design also have some social reasons. The primary factor is government policy. From the history of the United States, the building style became more and more similar around statehood. The appearance of buildings leads to phenomenon which is called “anywhere USA”. It means cities in the United States look almost the same and lack of certain characters. Therefore, in order to achieve the goal of promoting tourism, the government of Santa Fe decided to develop Spanish Pueblo revival. However, with the development of transportation, a large number of new materials were be applied when construct the buildings. Therefore, residents began to use these new materials such as pressed metal and glass. For the design of Modern Ruin, the owner wanted to create a mix feeling of clean, elegant and industry. According to this demand, architect incorporates rammed earth and steel. Other factor influences this design which is changes about lifestyle of residents. In the ancient time, Pueblo preferred to live together. However, live with families began to give way to isolated gradually. Single-family dwellings have become the major life style in Santa Fe. Therefore, Modern ruin is a not large building which is just suitable for a family. The final social factor is environmental demand becomes popular. Therefore, Modern Ruin adopts plenty of measurements which are mentioned above to achieve sustainable development.

To sum up, Modern Ruin is a contemporary building which attempts to follow on the style of traditional Pueblo architecture. It creates new form of combining contemporary and ancient. The strategies employed to reduce the energy consumption can be conclude as passive solar orientation, plate steel overhangs, natural ventilation, solar-thermal radiation floor heating, catchment of rain, green roof and reused building materials. These significant elements provide more comfortable inside environment for residents.