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5450 Bee Cave Road
Austin, TX, 78746
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The Texas Dog Trot

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The Texas Dog Trot

Tim Brown

Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest ones. That is very true of the Dogtrot layout for a home. Early settlers in Texas needed a way to keep their homes cool during the brutal summer heat they were experiencing. Most of the anglo settlers came from European countries that have mild summers and a balanced four season year. It is HOT here in the summer. I grew up in Maine and enjoyed 85 degree sunny days where we could cool our homes just by opening a window and letting in the 65 degree night air. Not the case here in Texas 95 degrees at night is not uncommon.

Early builders in Texas devised a simple yet brilliant layout to keep the breezes flowing and the sleeping areas away from the hot kitchen. They split the home into two sections... Night and Day. The kitchen and living areas were in one side and the sleeping areas in another. This leaves room for a large open porch in between. The beauty of this simple design feature is the funneling of even the slightest breeze through the open porch. Air moves like water. In order for it to pass the same amount of volume through a small space, it needs to speed up the material. By creating a porch that is enclosed on two sides, it acts as a wind funnel. Brilliant right? This created a cool, peaceful place to rest in the heat of the day and a place for the ranch dogs to sleep at night... Hence the name "Dogtrot"

There is so much to be learned from our predecessors. Wherever you are in the world and whatever climate you live in. Few of them had a formal education and even fewer were building professionals. It amazes me the innovation that stems from necessity. Sometimes the only thing between us and a successful resolution is the ability to simply think simple.