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Bookshelf - Bioclimate
  • Builders in the Sun: Five Mexican Architects
    Builders in the Sun: Five Mexican Architects
    by Clive Bamford Smith; foreword by Dr. José Villagrán García.
  • Manual of Tropical Housing and Building Design
    Manual of Tropical Housing and Building Design
    by O. H. Koenigsberger
  • Design with Climate Bioclimatic Approach to Architectural Regionalism (Design with Climate Bioclimatic Approach to Architectural Regionalism)
    Design with Climate Bioclimatic Approach to Architectural Regionalism (Design with Climate Bioclimatic Approach to Architectural Regionalism)
    by Victor Olgyay
  • Environmental Diversity in Architecture
    Environmental Diversity in Architecture
    by Koen Steemers
  • Bruno Stagno: An Architect in the Tropics
    Bruno Stagno: An Architect in the Tropics
    by Bruno Stagno
  • Design with Nature (Wiley Series in Sustainable Design)
    Design with Nature (Wiley Series in Sustainable Design)
    by Ian L. McHarg

    A new edition of the 1969 classic.

  • Tombazis and Associates Architects: Less Is Beautiful (Talenti)
    Tombazis and Associates Architects: Less Is Beautiful (Talenti)
    by Alexandros N. Tombazis, Jolisten Schmiedeknecht
  • Tropical Sustainable Architecture: Social and Environmental Dimensions
    Tropical Sustainable Architecture: Social and Environmental Dimensions
    Architectural Press
  • An Urban Approach to Climate Sensitive Design: Strategies for the Tropics
    An Urban Approach to Climate Sensitive Design: Strategies for the Tropics
    by Rohint Emmanuel
  • The Climatic Dwelling: An Introduction to Climate-Responsive Residential Architecture (Eur (Series), 16615 En.)
    The Climatic Dwelling: An Introduction to Climate-Responsive Residential Architecture (Eur (Series), 16615 En.)
    by E. O'Cofaigh, J. A. Olley, J. O. Lewis
  • Bioclimatic Housing: Innovative Designs for Warmer Climates
    Bioclimatic Housing: Innovative Designs for Warmer Climates
    Earthscan Publications Ltd.

 

Elements of Intelligent Design - A Basis in Bioclimatology

 

"Before the machine age, even in the center of cities, nature was a trusted companion, partner of the baker, the ironsmith, the carpenter...Nowadays, this situation has been turned around: man cannot find nature, not even when he leaves the city to enjoy it. Locked in his shiny automobile, man is within nature a foreign body. A billboard is enough to erase the call of nature. Then nature becomes a fragment of nature and man a fragment of man. The promised dialogue between man and nature becomes a hysterical, monotonous human monologue."

- Luis Barragan, 1965

Introduction

Bioclimatology is the study of the relationship of climates to people. Bioclimatic design accounts for, and takes advantage of, local climatological characteristics by utilizing appropriate, passive design elements and building technologies to create comfortable conditions by controlling the transfer of heat to (or from) buildings. The use of the term 'passive' does not necessarily exclude the use of mechanical methods in designs. On the contrary, properly implemented mechanical methods can substantially increase the performance of the system and, thus, comfort, which is the ultimate goal.

Bioclimatic design differs from sustainable design in its focus on creating comfort, by utilizing, and connecting with, the environment rather than the building's impact on the environment. The attendant energy savings and smaller environmental impacts that result from bioclimatic design are beneficial consequences of integrating the project with local climatic conditions rather than application of arbitrary sustainable features.

As previously suggested, the creation of 'place' can be enhanced by a design-by-integration approach that immerses and engages people in their surroundings, both immediate and regional. There is no more effective and comprehensive way to achieve this than through bioclimatic design.

 

Evolution

Prior to the early 20th century, the ability to maintain comfortable conditions in indoor environments in warm/hot regions was limited to passive methods. With the advent of air conditioning in 1902 and seemingly unlimited, inexpensive energy resources, it became possible for architects to ignore passive methods, instead relying on active, mechanical methods to overcome climate-related design deficiencies. As a result, most building designs, and the energy use to make them function, are based on reducing the effect of the natural environment on people.

The concepts of bioclimatic design are far older than what was initiated in Asia in the 1950s and in the U.S. in the 1960s and those promoted in the current sustainability movement. Basic human building design has been climate-based for millenia - since the first people-shelters were built - and only changed with the introduction of mechanical methods of interior climate modification. Vernacular approaches which were comprehensive in their application but lacked empirical substantiation were eventually translated into scientific discourse that was studied and verified. The 1950s and '60s was a period in which vernacular architecture was seen as a valid, and preferred way of designing, and could teach architects how to design regional architecture, in tune with nature.

In the 1950s, Otto Koenigsberger performed one of the first extensive surveys of vernacular tropical architecture of Asia while he was stationed in India. His early conclusions were that such designs were not only highly climate responsive but also excellent examples of efficient building, both from a materials standpoint as well as in spatial planning from the point of view of utilizing outdoor spaces. By the 1970s, when his "Manual of Tropical Housing and Building" was published, the theoretical aspects of vernacular architecture were better studied and defined, and empirical data was available to substantiate the approaches that he promoted.

An awareness of environmental issues began in the U.S. in the 1960s and stimulated exploration of new ideas in a variety of fields, particularly in the area of solar energy. Rachel Carson's book "Silent Spring", introduced and created mainstream interest in ecology, resulting an environmental movement that was primarily youth-oriented. In 1963, Victor Olgyay coined the term 'bioclimatic' in his book "Design with Climate: Bioclimatic Approach to Architectural Regionalism", which proposed the critical need to relate building design to climate, and explored relationships to human comfort. The term 'green' also emerged in this era, but was associated more with a counter-culture movement than the environmental movement. Ian McHarg's book "Design with Nature" (1969) explored the potential for a nature/building relationship, but, like other 'movements', it was not a widely accepted, mainstream approach.

Olgyay's book initiated thought regarding defining environmental performance in terms of passive design methods and principles, and to human comfort. His Bioclimatic Comfort Chart, a process of quantifying and illustrating climatological conditions that defines a 'zone' of conditions that people find comfortable in a given locale, was the essence of his approach. His contention was that considering local climatic conditions and applying appropriate passive techniques at the beginning of the design phase will result in maximizing the opportunity to make buildings work in the favor of the occupants.