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Early Florida settlers built their homes with features that we now recognize as environmentally friendly: Wide overhangs to shade windows and porches, high ceilings and big, operable windows for ventilation.

That is precisely what Orlando architect Geoffrey Mouen, AIA had in mind when he designed “Tradewinds,” the 7,316-square-foot show house in Baldwin Park sponsored by Builder Magazine.

“Early in the design, we analyzed the typical direction of the wind,” Mouen says. “The breeze comes across the pool and into the house through big doors that open up. The house is designed to capture the prevailing breeze coming across the lake through the atrium and into the main living spaces. Hot air rises through high, clerestory windows and the observation tower to help ventilate the interiors.

“The whole goal here is we’re not relying on new gizmos and gadgets to keep the house comfortable,” Mouen adds. “We’re using traditional methods that respond to the Florida climate. Of course, we can close the house up and use air conditioning when the weather is too hot. But our goal is to allow people to turn off the electricity for eight months of the year, open the house up and enjoy the beautiful, temperate climate.”

Combining classic and contemporary design (Mouen calls it Anglo-Caribbean influences) the house was raised six feet off its lakeside lot for privacy from the adjacent Cady Way Trail. Runners and roller-bladers who pass by have no way of knowing that the 9foot louvered doors facing them lead to a Roman atrium – complete with fire cauldrons and a waterfall.

The residence has an unusual exterior – some neighbors believed the three-story building was a restaurant while others speculated it would hold church services on Sundays. However, the design actually optimizes the path of the sun to create intentional solar heat gain, interior natural light and exterior shading opportunities. A standing-seam metal roof reflects Florida’s harsh sunlight while prevailing winds from the Lake Susannah keep 2,200-square feet of covered outdoor areas cool.

Fourteen windows in the observation tower draw hot air out of the residence like a passive attic fan.  Undoubtedly, early Florida settlers would approve.