The orientation of your house plays more of a role than which corner of your block you plant your lemon tree on your block.
Good orientation increases the energy efficiency of your home which in return is not only a huge step forward to more sustainable housing, but also the reduction in energy usage equals a cheaper home to run which equals more bucks in your back pocket. With the discussion of raising energy prices yet again seems like a very logical step forward especially considering a correctly orientated building doesn't cost you anything other than some upfront thinking.
Additionally, a good designed well-orientated house is much more comfortable to live in both during summer and winter. In summer they are kept cool through minimising the heat gain into the house and capturing cooling breezes and then in winter warmer through allowing the winter sun into the house and preventing any heat loss.
One of the most important aspects is the orientation of the block itself. When selecting a block, you ideally want it to be elongated along the east-west axis, therefore having a larger north facing boundary. This increases the ability to maximise the homes northern outlook. In return, this means more room and more windows facing north, and subsequently, the ability to capture and store more winter sun and heat.
Along with the orientation, the current built environment should be considered when looking to purchase a block of land. Any existing buildings or trees to the north, no matter how small, will shade some portion of the north face of the house and will therefore dramatically affect the homes overall performance.
For instance, a corner block with an uninterrupted north face compared than a block with a three storey house in close proximately on the north face will work very differently. Both blocks may be elongated on north face, however the corner block with no overshadowing from any surrounding structures will provide a far greater end result than the block being overshadowed by the three storey home. During the winter months, the sun is at a much lower angle, so even a small obstruction to the north face can be quite detrimental to the function and operation of the house
Similar to how the built environment plays a role with capturing the winter sun, it also greatly effects the cool summer breezes (in Perth commonly referred to as the Freo doctor, or Fremantle doctor). These cooling sea breezes come from the South West providing a cool relief to our hot Perth summers. Wind paths are a little more flexible than the sun as these breezes can be manipulated and guided to a certain extent with wing walls and wind tunnels, but if you again have three storey house in close proximity to the south west of your house, possibly abutting your house it will effect the ability to capture these cooling summer breezes.
As you can see it is not just a simple as only looking at the overall orientation of your block, but also the surrounding build environment and how this will affect your home design.
A good designer that has the ability to think outside of the square can work in with any scenario to make the best of both the block orientation and built environment.
Stay tuned for our next post in our mini series on Passive Solar Design.