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Bioclimatic Architecture

December 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Today,  we are living a difficult tima for architecture and construction. The Crise is affecting this field harder than others and it is important to know, that in architecture, the quality is much more important than the quantity. Respecting the environment is one of the principal goals that architectura is trying to achieve all along the 21st century. We have made a lot of improvements but there is a lot to do yet.

What is bio­cli­matic architecture?

Build­ing that takes into account cli­mate and envi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions to help achieve ther­mal com­fort inside. It deals with design and archi­tec­tural ele­ments, avoid­ing com­plete depen­dence on mechan­i­cal sys­tems, which are regarded as sup­port.  (i.e. Using nat­ural ven­ti­la­tion or mixed mode ven­ti­la­tion)  Archi­tec­ture that has a con­nec­tion to Nature.

Here we have an example about how to use natural resources like orientation, vetnilation, etc to make a  construction energetically more efficient


But, does it really work?

Tra­di­tional tech­niques work, and in Spain we know it well: the cool­ness inside a thick-walled tra­di­tional vil­lage house at noon in August, the com­fort of a tra­di­tional patio in Andalu­cia on a hot day, or how the sun enters through South ori­ented win­dows in win­ter replac­ing  the need for heat­ing. If this works, don’t you think it could be pos­si­ble, through care­ful house design, to design houses like this today?  Answer–Yes! It is entirely pos­si­ble to design mod­ern bio­cli­matic hous­ing and archi­tec­ture, using nat­ural ven­ti­la­tion, pas­sive solar design, and sus­tain­able materials.

How much does it cost?

A bio­cli­matic house needn’t be either cheaper nor more expen­sive, uglier or nicer, than any other. The bio­cli­matic house doesn’t need the pur­chase and instal­la­tion of com­pli­cated and expen­sive sys­tems, but it just uses the reg­u­lar archi­tec­tural ele­ments to increase the ener­getic per­for­mance and get a nat­ural com­fort. To achieve this, the bio­cli­matic design imposes a set of guide­lines, but there still remains a lot of free­dom to design accord­ing to indi­vid­ual taste. Sit­ing of the build­ing, con­sid­er­a­tion of solar access, col­lec­tion of rain­wa­ter, using ther­mal mass to your advan­tage, cor­rect fen­es­tra­tion and solar shad­ing all can be taken into account when design­ing, and the end prod­uct you have is a much more energy effi­cient while being in tune with its sur­round­ings and Nature.

Then, why is bio­cli­matic archi­tec­ture is not well known?

Clothes mean much more to us that the need for ther­mal pro­tec­tion (started sim­ple and some­times lost to the con­cept of fash­ion), hous­ing means more than the need for a com­fort­able place to live, and may rep­re­sent, for exam­ple, a sta­tus sym­bol. As that sym­bol, it must adapt to the estab­lished stan­dards of sta­tus, some­times ignor­ing the envi­ron­ment (i.e. McMan­sions). Energy sav­ing and tak­ing advan­tage of the sun may not fit into these stan­dards, but hav­ing an expen­sive con­di­tion­ing sys­tem to over­heat in win­ter and over­cool in sum­mer every sin­gle space in the house (even if it is sel­dom used) may seem nec­es­sary. The cul­tural iner­tia of the over­done, is hard to stop, because right now its working.…and energy prices go up.

In despite of spo­radic aware­ness cam­paigns, pub­lic­ity takes pride every day to asso­ciate sav­ing with dis­com­fort and low sta­tus, and waste with easy liv­ing and pres­tige. And it gets the point across: a lot of peo­ple asso­ciate sav­ing energy to poverty. Sci­ence is dis­re­garded, global warm­ing has no real world con­se­quence, energy is wasted, peo­ple pay and pay with­out real­iz­ing it. Now our eco­nom­i­cal sys­tem needs us to con­sume as much as pos­si­ble so as to keep the wheel going.

The pow­ers that be are strong and they have built a legacy they want to con­tinue.  Big com­pa­nies (the legacy industries) refuse to inno­vate, lobby to keep the sta­tus quo–no energy sup­ply com­pa­nies is really inter­ested in new tech­nolo­gies for renew­able energy, just the new star­tups. How will they increase their ben­e­fits? How will they sell energy if you are mak­ing your own, or dont need as much because your new house works better. Air con­di­tion­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers aren’t inter­ested in alter­na­tive sys­tems that bust their tech­nol­ogy, nat­ural ven­ti­la­tion does not make money.

Archi­tects and builders don’t worry as far as their busi­ness goes well, and the con­sumer, with no infor­ma­tion on the topic, can­not demand alter­na­tive prod­ucts he does not know, ever won­der why there is no elec­tric car on your streets or solar pan­els on your roof?  Why would the pow­ers that be want you to get energy for free when they can charge for it?

Slowly, new pro­grams, smart com­pa­nies, eco cit­i­zens are becom­ing aware of the energy waste prob­lem, and things are babystep­ping forward–promoting research on the topic and gen­er­at­ing new leg­is­la­tion and stan­dards. For exam­ple, some­thing as sim­ple as good insu­la­tion in build­ings to keep heat inside is a topic for leg­is­la­tion of increas­ing impor­tance. And in a lot of coun­tries insti­tu­tions ( are appear­ing to per­form research and spread bio­cli­matic knowl­edge among archi­tects and builders (like CIEMAT in Spain). Hun­dreds of books have been writ­ten on the topic, and hun­dreds of projects related some how to bio­cli­matic archi­tec­ture have been imple­mented around the world, and slowly it takes hold.

One of the most important leaders of sustainable architecture is Norman Foster, who is one of the most respected architectural professionals in the world. With his ambitious goals in high tech architecture, he gave Great Britain and the entire world numerous architectural wonders.

01 foster                 8swissre                officeContact_8


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