Ancient passive house construction

About one thousand years ago, the Taos Pueblo established a town using massive adobe masonry walls. Nowadays, one-hundred fifty people still live here, twenty of them year-round. Cooling comes from keeping the heat out and letting in the cold air at night. The thick walls retain the heat of the internal gains, people and open fires (currently wood stoves are allowed).

Small openings in thick earthen walls help modulate the interior temperature in a climate of extremes.

Small openings in thick earthen walls help modulate the interior temperature in a climate of extremes.

 

An arid climate with snow and seasonal downpours results in buildings with flat roofs and large scuppers.

Heavy walls, heavier corner, small opening, and scupper

A thick layer of mud plaster covers structural adobe brick walls.

 

Adobe bricks are made of sand, earth, and a fibrous material such as straw, then laid out to dry under the abundant sun.

Adobe bricks stacked and ready for construction

Adobe bricks stacked and ready for construction

 

Thick masonry walls allow multi-story construction.

The Taos Pueblo buildings are one, two, or three stories.

The Taos Pueblo buildings are one, two, or three stories.

 

Traditionally, Pueblo buildings were accessed up a ladder and through an opening in the roof. Solid doors are one of the few allowed alterations.

Original small windows adjacent to recent larger door openings.

Original small windows adjacent to recent larger door openings

The earth oven and shade structure are part of the original. Wood stairs and the church crosses visible in the background date from the Spanish conquest.20140602_104242

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