Designing Turtletown: Part 3 Sheldon Has a Home

Posted by Kenneth Black on January 09, 2017
Designing Turtletown: Part 3 Sheldon Has a Home
Sheldon the turtle in his new home.

The whole point of the process described in this series of articles (see Part 1 and Part 2) is that it is now yours. Do what you want with it. Augment it and make it your own. Show others that they are critical to the design process. It is that connection that makes all the difference.

Performance is a question that is constantly drilled into our forms of expression and designed spaces. We obtain metrics for everything, sometimes forgetting that the numbers alone do not always define the space and the experience in it. The questions that were asked in the beginning of the project are for experiencing a place as we sense it and can begin to develop our method of thinking. This process of taking in the quantifiable, numeric characteristics of a place and translating them to the qualitative, experiential expressions has been condensed in this process to share it with others. We can find what interests us and moves our design and profession. These interests are then combined with our experience to make the vegetated design framework and Turtletown.

This is a process in which the method of getting there is just as important as the resulting product. This work was completed over the course of a three-hour charrette (a fast, concentrated design meeting). I hope that this process helps you in your future work, or future home projects that also have a series of needs.

See the design charrette for Turtletown in the figures below.

Collection of the process of the iterative sketching out the project.

Top: Fast shading studies of Turtletown using Google SketchUp. This is the December Full Sun example.

Bottom: This is the full shade example using 2x4s and 14" spacing. Majority shading began in April and ended in October using a 9inch overhang. This resulted in a shading angle of 53 degrees for full shade ass suggested in Heating, Cooling and Lighting as a fast reference.


Collection of the changed framework for Turtletown. The drawings are the perspective of the full grown Turtletown that served as inspiration (upper right), the site plan (middle left) and the shading structure and turtle enclosure, Turtletown (bottom).

Time to Build

For now, my glare problem is solved, and we have place for a growing tortoise with the intent of growing a twining vine on a wire mesh matrix. Sheldon has a home.

Kenneth Black is a Ph.D. candidate at Virginia Tech in the Center for Higher Performance Environments. He has 10 years experience in design or teaching in architecture. His research involves studio pedagogy, the performance of the building envelope (vegetated walls and roofs, and black and white roofing membranes), and design frameworks.

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