The house will be 30′ by 50′ on the interior. It will be made of 12″ concrete masonry blocks with a concrete floor and bermed by earth on the east, north, and west side. The south-facing wall will be made of 8″ concrete masonry blocks, have many windows, and left exposed for passive solar benefits. The south wall faces solar south which, here in southeastern Oklahoma is approximately 6-7 degrees east of magnetic south. The roof of the house will not be buried but will be above ground and higher on the north side to accomodate windows. This will allow us better air circulation and cooling. The roof will be made of steel with steel trusses underneath so no interior supporting walls will be necessary. The roof will overhang in the front so that the higher summer sun is blocked out to reduce heating, yet the lower winter sun will shine in through the southern windows to aid in heating for the cooler months. Most, if not all, rooms will have SolaTubes installed in the ceilings/roof to provide free, natural lighting. (http://www.solatube.com/) There will be no interior space that does not have at least one window. We are leaving the big pantries/closets open for better circulation, as moisture can be a problem in below-grade houses.
Here is a rough version of our preliminary floor plan. This is very much subject to change over the coming weeks and months.
*Update 11/21/09: The original floor plan seems to be missing. I’ll try to find it eventually. We’ve changed so much since then it no longer applies anyway.*