In a given region, Climate is the predominant weather. Just as flora and fauna adapt to their surroundings and create sustaining ecosystems, architects should design buildings that respond to the climate and are living rather than consuming. Climate change is one of the greatest challenges faced by human society in the 21st century. To tackle climate change, carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced by changing the way buildings are designed, constructed, managed, and used. The climate-responsive architecture aims to design the optimized building according to specific characteristics of that particular site, to minimize extreme energy use and have a reduced impact on the natural environment.

What Architects must know about climate responsive architecture
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Climate-responsive architecture functions in lockstep with the local climate(temperature, historical weather patterns, etc.), the direction of the sun (sun path and solar position), site-specific environmental conditions (such as wind, rainfall, humidity), seasonality and also taking into account the natural shade provided by the surrounding area and topography to design pleasant buildings which ensure physiological comfort of users, energy-efficient buildings with reduced reliance on artificial energy.

With an approach from a genuinely sustainable perspective to create buildings that respond directly to their unique place, the process begins with climate data rather than architectural sketches. By addressing the questions such as “Determining the sun’s position in the sky at a given time and season?”, “How much rain falls on the site each season?” and “What effect will the wind have on the building keeping in mind the occupant’s comfort?” The building should be adaptive to changing environmental conditions to meet its functional requirement and to provide comfort. Some steps to achieve climate responsive design involve:

Site analysis

To understand the specific site, it’s important to understand the ramifications of the building through site analysis. The Layout of the Building is designed through an integrative design process to achieve the most optimal location for the building.

Sun direction

The building should be placed considering the cardinal directions. The goal is to maximize the amount of sun that heats space in the winter as well as decreasing the amount of sun in the summer to reduce the less reliance on mechanical energy for cooling and heating.

Window Considerations

Buildings with façades facing the south should use a window area appropriate to their orientation, and glazing should use a double or triple-panelled Low-E-coated glass. In the hottest months, it minimizes the amount of heat transmitted into space while keeping heat inside during the cooler winter months.

Minimize the Building Footprint

To minimize building footprint, architects should design the buildings to be multi-functional. The building will have fewer excavation costs and more wall areas that can benefit from the sun’s warming effects along with an increase in natural daylighting.

Design for Natural Ventilation

A building can be cooled by designing for stack ventilation to draw cooler air from low building openings to protect from warm air rises while carrying heat away through openings at 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 temperature difference over the room height.

Relax the Occupants Comfort Standards

With climate responsive design, the amount of energy used to cool and heat the building is reduced by dependence on using natural systems, the sun, and the wind. This is possible only if the occupants are open to adding or removing clothing layers according to the seasons, increasing the amount of energy saved.

Modelling and Analysis

Architects and designers can utilize tools such as lighting models, energy modeling, computational fluid dynamics, daylighting studies, to understand how the design best integrates with the local climate and micro-climate specific to the site.

Multiple Iterations

The design practice of Climate-Responsive architecture involves more time in the early phases of design to model the project along with multiple iterations in the design process.

References:
www.thebalancesmb.com/designing-climate-responsive-architecture-3157812
www.irbnet.de/daten/iconda/CIB5079.pdf
www.seradesign.com/climate-responsive-design/
www.researchgate.net/publication/280948718_Climate-responsive_architecture_and_sustainable_housing_in_Nigeria
www.sageglass.com/en/article/designing-for-geographic-climates
Muskan Khan
Author

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