2014 REFLECTOR + RETRO project 11 Jewell Close, Swinger Hill, ACT

Preliminary section of the Swinger Hill terrace house as existing. Analysis showed this to be badly oriented for solar purposes but was capable of some remedial retrofitting. The client’s reason for commissioning me was to put a reflector to the left of the LR above but its orientation showed that it would be less than effective and not good value for the cost involved. She proved to be not interested in what we could do to remedy what was really wrong with the design of the house – too complicated to illustrate here – refer to file.

This project started out as a query from Jocelyn Goson about putting a reflector on a SW facing window of a Swinger Hill terrace house. I asked David Anderson (designer and maker of the electronic system for my heliostat) if he was interested in gradually taking over my reflector development/research work and get involved with me in this project. He said yes so we talked to Jocelyn. To cut a long story short she seemed to be a controlling person who had little faith in the obvious DIY capacity (to us) of her husband and she openly mentioned that their relationship was a bit rocky. He never entered into the discussions with us. The drawings were very faint and it took us some time to understand how the building didn’t work thermally and we discovered deeper seated thermal problems due to poor design. It became clear to us that other, cheaper solutions would be more appropriate than just a reflector. We reported our findings to Jocelyn but for some reason she expected us to supply a quote for carrying out the work, not appreciating that we were designers and holistic problem solvers, not tradesmen – her husband could have managed most of what we would have recommended but we didn’t get the chance to discuss with him.

She suddenly decided to cancel the project so I sent her an account for our investigative time which she refused to pay. My guess is that she wanted the latest technology that would
(in her opinion) solve her problem but was intolerant of what the fundamental problems inherent in the house design were and how they could be resolved in a more effective way. Some people can’t be helped – and lack of understanding of simple physics seems to be a common problem. All a waste of time as the solutions for most of the problems were correctable but lack of faith in her quite competent husband proved insurmountable.