Solar Greenhouse in Alabama
Rural Studio 
Solar Greenhouse in Alabama

Solar Greenhouse in Alabama

Rural Studio 


This greenhouse is part of Rural Studio Farm, a project which was launched back in 2010 to bring back into use the systems of planting organic foods that had been largely abandoned in industrialized countries, especially in the United States. The building was planned out and built by students in successive workshops, in accordance with a design based on passive principles that ensure that rainwater is collected and heat is produced in the amounts necessary for the plants to grow inside throughout the year.

The construction follows the scheme of traditional greenhouses. The building opens up to the south to make the most of solar energy coming in through a slanting glass membrane that captures radiation in such a way that heat can accumulate in an element fit for precisely that. This is the thermall wall, formed by several rows of water-filled barrels resting on a foundation – itself formed by a row of barrels embedded to the ground – and clad behind with an insulation that prevents or minimizes heat loss. Towards the north, the greenhouse is topped with a berm or slope of earth that in the winter season protects the building against strong winds, improving its overall thermal performance. To prevent overheating in the summer months, the glass walls of the greenhouse can be opened or pivoted to allow natural cross ventilation. They are protected with tarpaulin canopies.

Thanks to its efficient system of collecting and storing water, the building is completely autonomous, even in periods of drought.

Obra Work

Solar Greenhouse in Newbern, Alabama (USA).

Cliente Client

Rural Studio.

Responsables Instructors

Elena Barthel, John Marusich.

Consultores Consultants

Xavier Vendrell; Davis Cliff; Paul Stoller (ingeniero medioambiental environmental engineer); Joe Farrugia, Anderson Inge, James Turnipseed; Gary Gray; Dan Wheeler; Steve Badanes; Jim Adamson; Ted Flato; Charles Mitchel; Lauren Day.

Estudiantes Students

M. Acino, C. Bagdigian, D. Bolden, D. Campbell, A. Clark, D. Craven, K. Funderburg, B. Greene, W. Gregory, K. Johnson, M. Jones, M. W. McCarthy, J. McDaniel, P. McInish, T. Mclemore, J. Miller, A. Powers, M. Stricklen, C. Weldy, A. Williams, M. Wilson, S. Wright, T. Avery, J. Bak, C. Bryant, K. Callis, C. Duffelle, C. Gardener, C. Heard, W. Johnson, S. Keele, R. Latham, L. McCarrell, D. Moore, S. O’Leary, B. Riesburg, H. Schlesinger, I. Shriver, S. Toro, E. Walker, T. Wang, T. Whales, E. Wirry, C. Baker, L. Bathke, S. Bianchi, D. Bowers, R. Bryant, A. Buehning, B. Buescher, T. Christiansen, A. Darpini, C. Eitzen, K. Gruhn, A. Hays, C. Hernández, T. Horton, A. Johnstone, K. Laferriere, A. Levet, M. Lewandowski, J. Lorig, Q. Mackenzie, I. Maples, A Martin, C. Plascencia, G. Rush, M. Scott, T. Tepool, K. Thompson, M. E. Tomlin, K. Wherry, M. Wood, T. Wong.

Fotos Photos

Thimothy Hursley, Rural Studio.