Since ancient times man has taken care of its personal refuge and that of its species. Through observation of the environment and the application of new, constructive, and diverse technologies human kind has experimented different ways of building our habitats and the weather has always conditioned him in the search for a comfortable home.
River and Columbian cultures were already developing construction techniques based on the terrain, the weather and their beliefs. Temples that worshiped the sun and were also cosmic observatories that provided information to behave in a balanced way with nature. In Classic Greece (500 a.c.) people talked building the southern façade higher than the northern one to obtain more sunlight and help control the internal temperature of their temples and city equipment. Therefore, we must consider that architecture has always been linked to the weather.
This search has evolved with time, and now we can materialize buildings that can sustain autonomously. They are buildings that are practically living organisms that maximize the energy provided by the local weather. However, this has been a process that has suffered a transformation since the industrial revolution, the search for energy autonomous buildings and cities and massive development followed absolutely different paths, production and population increase along with the growth in raw materials requirements and energy transformed the world, global wars, the haste in the functioning of cities, industrial competitiveness, massive resource generation and the global raise in birth rate, have made architecture be more oriented towards functionality and competitive, and we have lost the search for home comfort in relation to the weather and the surroundings. Let’s keep in mind that architecture not only does it work with light, space dimensions and the surroundings, it is also determined by the weather that wraps human activity and its habitat.
Nowadays, this situation must be reverted due to the global pollution that we face. Our buildings demand between 100 and 150 kW/hr per square meter each year, some even 200. Not only in its useful life, but also in its construction, due to the shipping of materials, in some cases they spent 3 times the building’s useful life energy consumption during its construction alone. Greywater treatment and solid residuals generated by each home or installation has also gone out of hand.
What opportunity does Bioclimatic Architecture provide?
Bioclimatic Architecture makes emphasis in the search for human comfort while at the same time, seeks through the shape of buildings and cities, through passive technologies, the generation of energy and renewable materials for the climatic administration of buildings.
The opportunity of capturing energy is places in an architectural project taking advantage of the macro and micro-climatic conditions of a determined zone. For this reason, it is fundamental to take into account the elements and factors of climate. By having a well-developed bioclimatic architecture, we can count on free energy for the building which will lead us to a better quality of life.
The most important climatic factor is arguably solar radiation, our primary energy source. It is radiation that makes other factors work. For example, it produces changes in the temperature of air masses inducing breeze, its incidence in water creates humidity, clouds, and precipitation. Lastly, it is this solar radiation that directly affects the thermic inertia of materials – the capacity of a material to absorb hear during the day and then releasing it during the night. Thus, we can build a passive solar collector inside the building choosing a material with good thermic inertia and of an opaque color and, in the best case scenario, obtaining the raw material from the same territory where the construction takes place. This in order to dialogue with the landscape and the place, thus drastically reducing the carbon print, which would be much higher if we chose a construction material that does NOT belong to the surroundings and we had to import.
In synthesis, bioclimatic architecture deals with strategically utilizing passive energies that exist in a determined territory and utilizes renewable materials, with the aim of reducing the impact in the environment, be able to recycle it in the future, and also reduce the energy loss related to its own production. Bear in mind that the manufacture of concrete and steel use an enormous amount of energy. For this reason, it is necessary to observer the local experiences in construction. We need to resolve the problems through the shape of the project, its orientation in relationship with the sun, the openings for cross-ventilation or convective ventilation, natural lighting, heat, water, and wind collectors, etc. When we can make this project become an organism that is sustained on its own, we will be fully entering a harmonic equilibrium between architecture, nature, energy resources, and materiality, and be able to enjoy a better physical and mental health, be able to watch for pollution and overexploitation of our planet.
Fellow - Architect
Blue Power Projects