Weather Architecture

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With its the everyday presence and seemingly predictable nature, weather often makes for an underwhelming topic of discussion. As such, we take for granted the power of this natural system and its many influences on culture.

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In the architecture field, the development of reliable heating and air conditioning systems marked a significant point in history and quickly eroded the practice governing how built form could respond to the atmospheric conditions of the natural environment. In doing so, it broke a knowledge chain — centuries long — of how buildings and weather can affect one another. However, climate change—in conjunction with our increasingly sophisticated knowledge of weather phenomena—has brought weather back to the forefront off public discourse, renewing the age-old discussion of the how weather and architecture can affect one another.

This relationship serves as the focus of the book -arium : Weather and Architecture. Richly illustrated, the book has a simple and straight-forward structure, consisting of three broad sections — Weather Report , Weather Forecast , and Weather Outlook — that are further subdivided into sub-sections.

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The many essays in the first section — Weather Report — looks at the intersection of culture and weather. Weather Forecast focuses on eight architectural concepts proposed by the students of the class that were created in response to all the information they discovered through their research.

Each proposal section begins with a short introduction — explaining the overall intent of the project — that is then followed by a handful of drawing-heavy pages that describe the scheme in more detail. The final section — Weather Outlook — is a compilation of nine short essays by various design professions and class critics speculating on the relationship between weather, atmosphere, and architecture. Topics of each essay range from descriptions of specific projects that engage weather in interesting ways to more theoretical discussions of the potential role of weather in shaping the built environment.

As a school-based book -arium is very impressive. Its beautiful design and high-quality production makes it stand out amongst other school-based architecture publications — particularly within the Canadian context.

Weather Architecture | The Bartlett School of Architecture - UCL - London's Global University

Similar to other design school anthologies, however, the specificity of the topic and conceptual nature of its content caters to primarily to architecture students and professionals. Question the true needs of the program. Do you need that much space?

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Are there ways that spaces can become multi-functional? Do we need that many private offices if some staff can telecommute occasionally and share offices? Once your team is set on the minimization program, take a look at the size of your footprint. Is it possible to add extra stories to make the footprint smaller?

That way, the building will have fewer excavation costs and more wall area that can benefit from the warming effects of the sun and an increase in natural daylighting.

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Design for natural ventilation. Since warm air rises, a building can be cooled by designing for stack ventilation by drawing cooler air from openings low in the building, while carrying heat away through openings in the top of the space. The rate at which the air moves is a function of the vertical distance between the inlets and outlets, their size and the difference in temperature over the height of the room.

This could prevent occupants from experiences sick building syndrome.

Relax the occupants comfort standards. Most buildings in this day and age are designed to keep occupants fairly comfortable, at around 78 degrees Fahrenheit. However, with climate responsive design, reducing the amount of energy used to cool and heat the building can result in using natural systems, meaning the sun and the wind. Adding a sweater in the winter or relaxing the company dress code to shorts in the summer can be enough to eliminate mechanical heating and cooling altogether, saving a bundle of money and the environment.

Conduct modeling and analysis.

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Energy modeling, lighting models, daylighting studies, computational fluid dynamics are all tools that designers can and should use to understand how the design best integrates with the local climate and micro-climate features specific to the site. Again, having the right team members with modeling expertise and software is the trick to keeping costs down while exploring the best options for the design. Perform multiple iterations.

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It will take the design team multiple passes of just these basic layouts in your pre-design or schematic design phase to hone in the lowest energy use possible, optimized for your specific site. Keep at the trials, and eventually, your building will be responding directly to the climate specific to the project site. Continue Reading.

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