Featured Grid: Climatology and Home Design

In a book pub­lished in the 1950s enti­tled Cli­ma­tol­ogy and Archi­tec­ture, the author presents a matrix of rooms in a house vs. com­pass direc­tion. The author’s rec­om­mended place­ments are indi­cated with a sym­bol. Here’s the orig­i­nal graphic:

Climatology and House Design (Original Graphic)

It’s an inter­est­ing graphic but the reader needs to “work” a lot to under­stand and find mean­ing and insight. The pat­terns in the graph are almost ran­dom and there is no eas­ily dis­cern­ble con­clu­sion; the reader asks “OK, so what do I do wit this? How do I act on it?” In most busi­ness pre­sen­ta­tions, one of two things would hap­pen (1) Eyes would glaze over and no one would draw a con­clu­sion from the chart (2) every­one would have a dif­fer­ent opin­ion on what the graph means and there would be a long dis­cus­sion on what it means and how to inter­pret it. I decided to try to improve on the graphic by try­ing to group the data to make it eas­ier to dis­cover mean­ing in it. Sort­ing in alpha­bet­i­cal order makes it eas­ier to find a room, and also some con­tigu­ous blocks:

Climatology (alphabetical sort)

Still, alpha­bet­i­cal order is a bit ran­dom, and doesn’t seem to dis­close any­thing at all. I decided to sort by flex­i­bil­ity (ie which rooms could be placed in all 8 direc­tions, fol­lowed by which rooms could be in 7 and so forth). Here is what it looks like:

Climatology and Home Design

Here the sort helps in find­ing mean­ing in the data. It doesn’t explain every nuance, but gives a basis for gen­er­al­iza­tion into three blocks: (a) rooms like the garage and bath­rooms which can be located any­where in the house. Bed­rooms are sim­i­lar, except for avoid­ing a west­ern expo­sure (warmer or hot in sum­mer — this book was writ­ten before wide­spread use of air-​conditioning) (b) liv­ing rooms — ter­races, sun porch, play rooms which have the most nat­ural light and warmth and © util­ity rooms which are placed in the cooler parts of the house (north­ern exposure).

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