Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/855

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warmed to such an extent that doors and windows are constantlyopened, and this in spite of the exceptionally cold and damp nature of the surrounding soil and the exposed position the house occupies.

Over and above all these considerations M. Somesco maintains he has realized the ideal that a dwelling should be like our clothes, only not portable, but permeable. It should be warm, because it should be made of materials that are bad conductors of heat. Indoors we should possess means of counteracting the chilling effect of the outer air. We ought to live indoors as we live out of doors, and we should consider our house merely as if it were an extra great-coat. The coat, if porous, will be warm and healthy. One of the reasons, he says, why we are apt to feel uncomfortable when it rains is that the rain blocks up the porosity of the walls, and that, too, on the windward side. As for microbes, M. Somesco proudly pointed to the artistic drapery which covered the bare bricks of his porous walls. "These are," he exclaimed, "my microbe traps. If I have any reason to believe that injurious microbes have been introduced into my house, I know pretty well where to find them. It would take but little time or trouble to unhook all this drapery, to put it into the disinfecting stove, and there superheated steam under pressure, without injuring the cloth, would assuredly kill the microbes. Even without these artificial methods of purification, if the walls were porous, oxygen would go wherever the microbe went, and Nature would effect its own cure." How far a porous wall can filter and purify air, as earth filters and purifies sewage, is a matter which has not yet been investigated. He is of opinion that if we leave our walls alone, and do not block them up with paint and paper, we have for ordinary house walls in ordinary weather two cubic feet of air going through every square foot of wall in the course of an hour, and this is probably enough to insure the sufficient oxidation, if it goes on at all, of the materials of which the wall is made. Further, the porosity of the walls must also materially assist in the ventilation of the room which they surround. It was M. Somesco's delight to think that even when the doors and windows of his house were shut the pure air of his garden was blown upon him through the porous walls.

M. Somesco's house can, of course, only be taken as an experiment. The principles of which it is a practical application have not yet been adopted by the public. Already a private house is in the course of construction at Beauvais built on the same principles, and they are also to be applied to the military hospital at Madrid. To sum up these new theories and methods, the teachings of M. Trélat, the practical experiments of M. Somesco, suggest that the natural porosity of our walls, especially the outer