Orientation

Buildings built in Taos prior to the 20th century were oriented to solar or stellar objects (i.e. churches as well as the pueblo).


Many buildings in Spanish times were built the depth of locally-available vigas, and started out as linear structures - lineas - designed to be added to. Later additions made the structures C, L, H, or  - the ultimate - O shaped.
Many of the earliest buildings in Taos were built along the mesatop that the town actually sits on. If you want to imagine Taos as it was a hundred years ago, visit the southern side of the parking structure to the south of Alhambra furnishings on Paseo Sur and look down onto what would have been agricultural fields, fed by a spring just below (near where the dry cleaners is now). Taos was a place who primary motivation was security, and building the town at this high location would have afforded not only that, but great views and access to more plentiful clean air.

Buildings on the periphery of town were oriented to the paths which led to market, as well as the fields during this period.

Buildings built in Taos during the 20th century are almost exclusively oriented to the street upon which they front. After 1960's, buildings started turning away from the street. As more research became available about passive solar design, many realized that a southeast orientation was warmest in winter and coolest in summer, and therefore quite a few buildings built during and after played with solar orientations.

Lessons learned: For design in the historic district, plans should orient as their neighbors do, but maximize the use of natural passive solar devices to minimize energy consumption and maximize occupant comfort. New buildings outside the historic district should be oriented on passive-solar advantage.