The site, with its south facing view across foothills to Massanutten Peak and the Blue Ridge mountains, drove our overall layout and organization for this modern country house. Selecting this site also served our goal of integrating contemporary active and passive solar systems into the design of the Sundial House.

Inspired by the concept of two houses with a street between, we divided the functions into a “Day House”, with shared open space on the south side, a “Night House” with private rooms on the north side. The street became an “Atrium” serving both houses.

The Day House common space includes kitchen, dining room, living room, and the suspended Loft floating above the kitchen. With the full height south glass wall, the Day House is the heat generator that powers Sundial’s passive solar design.

The beauty of a south facing view is that a large glass wall there not only delivers the view but integrates passive solar heating into the overall design of the house.

The Night House is divided into bedrooms, bathrooms, office, and laundry. These private rooms are accessed through doors off the central atrium.

The Atrium is the 3D crossroads of the house: lengthwise it connects front door to back door, vertically it connects the three stories, and crosswise it connects the two houses, including the bridge from the Night House to the Loft. The Atrium skylight with its 4 inch disc, casts a shadow on the North House to tell time, inspiring the name Sundial House.

The active solar photovoltaic panels are optimized by the south orientation of the house and the pitch we gave to the house roofs. The canopy roof which shelters the south terrace is designed to shade the house in summer and allow the sun deep into the house in winter.

The passive solar system depends on the thermal mass in the concrete floor and the solid 12 inch masonry walls to store daytime heat in winter and nighttime coolness in summer. Without this concrete mass to draw the heat during the daytime, the house would overheat in winter.

Sundial House Facts

Location: Keezletown, Virginia

Square feet ground and second floor: 3660

Square feet basement and garage: 2340