Sponsors - Bioclimate
Links - Networking
Bookshelf - Climate
  • 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
  • Man, Climate and Architecture,
    Man, Climate and Architecture,
    by B. Givonl
  • Tropical Architecture: Sustainable and Humane Building in Africa, Latin America and South-East Asia
    Tropical Architecture: Sustainable and Humane Building in Africa, Latin America and South-East Asia
    by Wolfgang Lauber, Peter Cheret, Klaus Ferstl, Eckhart Ribbeck

 

Elements of Intelligent Design - Climate

Here Comes The Sun...

As much as architects design for its light qualities, the sun's heat component rarely receives the real attention it deserves. There are special design criteria for seismic zones, flood zones, hurricane zones, and other zones of concern, but the one ubiquitous condition to which only nominal attention is paid - climate - has a larger impact on our daily lives than any other factor. Regional climatic variations influence design considerations for shelter, warmth, cooling, and the interrelationship of indoor and outdoor habitable spaces. Accordingly, geographic location and the attendant climate - temperature, humidity, sun, rain, and wind - are the primary factors to consider as the first step in intelligent, context-responsive design.

Global climates have been studied extensively and numerous regional classifications have been devised. The Koppen scheme is one of the most comprehensive and the diversity of regions is shown in the following diagram:

 

 

For architectural concerns, these categories can initially be grouped into four general macro-climatic regions. These regions and their primary design issues are:

  • Cold - Solar underheating is the main issue, and rapid heat loss occurs during the majority of the year. Objective: Maximize heat gain from the sun and internal sources and minimize heat loss
  • Temperate/Mixed - There is a seasonal variation between solar underheating and overheating, but neither is very severe. Objective: Balance
  • Hot + Arid (Dry) - Solar overheating is the main issue, but because the air is dry, evaporative cooling is effective. A significant difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures occurs. Objective: Balance daytime heat gain with nighttime heat loss
  • Hot + Humid (Wet) - Solar overheating is an issue, but typically not as great as in Hot + Arid/Dry regions. However, humidity increases the level of discomfort and evaporative cooling is ineffective. Little difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures occurs, and day-to-night humidity levels do not fluctuate significantly. Objective: Minimize heat gain and maximize heat dissipation

 

Intelligent Design thus begins with establishing in which major climatic region the project is located and conducting a site analysis to identify conditions (e.g., topography, natural vegetation, other nearby structures) that alter the regional climate in ways that create local variations (mesoclimates) and site-specific microclimates. These climatic characteristics influence placement and orientation of the building on the site, and making this determination is the next step in the design process. Making the proper choices will accomplish objectives including reducing mechanical air conditioning requirements and attendant energy costs, maximizing passive heating and cooling capability, and, ultimately, creating comfortable, healthy living conditions for the inhabitants.