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Priene Ancient Greek City (Turkey)

Credits: ©2004 F. Haverfield/Project Gutenberg

Priene was a little town in Ancient Greece on the east coast of the Aegean, in ancient Ionia (now located in present-day Turkey). It is generally considered to be one of the first examples of city planning on a sophisiticated grid, as well as a prime example of passive solar orientation. The city backed up to the mountain, providing protection from the north wind, with all homes facing south to capture winter sun. The high ridge of Mycale towered above it; Miletus faced it across an estuary; Samos stood out seawards to the west. In its first dim days it had been perched on a crag that juts out from the overhanging mountain; there its life began, we hardly know when, in the dawn of Greek history. But it had been worn down in the fifth century between the upper and the nether millstone of the rival powers of Samos and Miletus. Early in the Macedonian age it was refounded. The old Acropolis was given up. Instead, a broad sloping terrace, or more exactly a series of terraces, nearer the foot of the hill, was laid out with public buildings—Agora, Theatre, Stoa, Gymnasium, Temples, and so forth—and with private houses. The whole covered an area of about 750 yds. in length and 500 yds. in width. Priene was, therefore, about half the size of Pompeii (p. 63). It had, as its excavators calculate, about 400 individual dwelling-houses and a population possibly to be reckoned at 4,000.


Priene Ancient Greek Solar City

The small Ancient Greek city of Priene provides a model solar planning. Located in present-day Turkey, the city had about 4000 inhabitants living in 400 houses. Its buildings and street plan were similar to those in Olynthus - the first soalr city - but because the city was built on the slope of a steep mountain, many of the fifteen secondary streets, running north-south, functioned as stairways. The seven main avenues were terraced on an east-west axis. ©2015 Unknown

In the centre was the Agora or market-place, with a temple and other large buildings facing on to it; round them were other public buildings and some eighty blocks of private houses, each block measuring on an average 40 x 50 yds. and containing four or five houses. The broader streets, rarely more than 23 ft. wide, ran level along the terraces and parallel to one another. Other narrower streets, generally about 10 ft. wide, ran at right angles up the slopes, with steps like those of the older Scarborough or of Assisi.[24] The whole area has not yet been explored and we do not know whether the houses were smaller or larger, richer or poorer, in one quarter than in another, but the regularity of the street-plan certainly extended over the whole site. Despite this reasoned and systematic arrangement, no striking artistic effects appear to have been attempted. No streets give vistas of stately buildings. No squares, save that of the Agora—120 by 230 ft. within an encircling colonnade—provide open spaces where larger buildings might be grouped and properly seen. Open spaces, indeed, such as we meet, in mediaeval and Renaissance Italy or in modern English towns of eighteenth century construction, were very rare in Priene. Gardens, too, must have been almost entirely absent. In the area as yet uncovered, scarcely a single dwelling-house possessed any garden ground or yard.[25]


  Responsive and Sustainable Architectural Strategies for Temperate Regions (713 kb)


Ancient Town Planning