Sustainable Design
Climate responsive design

This is Praveen from Chennai, India a 5th yr student of architecture. As you could see, I have chosen this topic of 'climate responsive design' wherein I will do research on how climate affects the design of a settlement and design the buildings in the settlement.

I would like to get feedback about this topic. I personally feel it is a vital topic at a time when buildings have become so immune to climate- or should I say, ignorant of climate.

How far is this topic from or close to green buildings and energy efficiency? Would this topic mean an overlap of those subjects too, or can I keep it the way it is?
I am fully aware of the fact that it becomes too technical. That is why I have restricted it to just the climate responsiveness. On how to plan and handle spaces and how to use the various devices effectively in the design both in the pragmatic and poetic way keeping in mind the design and planning strategy for the entire township of say about 200 to 400 employees along with the factory and their office spaces. Our course doesn't let us do a pure research and would like to culminate into a design. I thought i could use this to put a stop to the technical aspects at some point and get into the design part, which would also include handling of spaces. It also includes how climate affects the settlement planning, the grain size, the landscape etc.
Kala Praveen
Climate responsive design
climate responsive design = vernacular design. :)))
Frank John Snelling
Climate responsive design
Hi Praveen,

FJS puts it abstractly as Vernacular and I agree completely.

There has been a New Age wave of environmental/green/eco- design that has come with the caring sharing 90's, and of course since the 90's were so high tech then the solution had to be high tech also, so most of the climatic responses of buildings followed relatively complex systems involving metal moving parts and computer chips. Fine. But vernacular architrecture is usualy technologicaly advanced, it's just because it has been around for centuries that people want something new. Well it has been around for so long for the simple reason that it WORKS.

There are few architects out there who have been able to continue the incremental evolution of their local vernacular technolgies, they have done great work with it and I'm sure you will stumble upon them on this site. I strongly suggest you look them up.

Good Luck
Yahia Shawkat
Climate responsive design
Climate responsive design

Vernacular design is an element in the topic of climatic design, as it serves the basic need for human comfort, so I agree that vernacular design is climatic in a sense; however i disagree to the fact that it is the solution to every thing. this is an era where technology has served us as well as destroyed us; the climate of the pas decade has differed from the climate of the past 1000, this is because of global warming, which resulted in the shifting and expansion of some of the summer and winter seasons. And weather patterns have changed around the world; all storms have become more violent and destructive. Hence the need for climatic Architecture to rise is ever so necessary.

Technology + Renewable Energy + Innovative design = Sustainable Design

Sustainable Design = Energy Efficient Design = Climate Responsive Design

So Sustainability is the future and Vernacular design the past. And time always goes forward.

Taqui Abdin
Taqui Abdin
Climate responsive design
Taqui, Vernacular Design is sustainable because it is has evolved to be suited to both the environment and climate of a specific location.

Vernacular is low-tech and for myself low-tech is best because maintenance is minimal, affordable and therefore sustainable.

Vernacular design is based upon mininal moving parts (to avoid the maintenance issues of wear and tear).

The entrance of "sustainable design in architecture" is simply people finally realising the obvious:- that Modern Hi-Tech Utopian Architecture goes nowhere and wastes valuable resources.

Sustainable Architecture today is in fact Neo-Vernacular backed by science. :)))
Frank John Snelling
Climate responsive design
Dear Frank,

I have to disagree as I know for a fact the many hi-tech constructions are serving the climatic needs of the building, some of these examples can be seen in the designs of Norman Foster and Renzo Piano, and besides, vernacular design is simple and is basically build and drawn with minimal need for architects, plus you can not say that hi-tech needs more maintenance. Look at the Arab Culture Centre in Paris.
Taqui Abdin
Climate responsive design

Feel free to disagree. But hi-tech design (with all glass walls, enclosed air-conditioning systems, etc) actively works against the aims of sustainability.
Frank John Snelling
Climate responsive design
Hi Praveen,

Poetry comes from the feel of the space. And, as you have selected, climatology is a very important factor. Don't you sometimes feel that a modestly done space is more poetic and comfortable than a jazzily done up, awe-inspiring space?

This is because you feel more comfortable in that modestly done-up place, because the climate inside is comfortable and/or because it suits your psyche,.. etc. Whereas the jazzy building might have an initial impact, but once you get inside, you might find the atmosphere too artificial or the A/C running at a very high degree of cooling, or there are no windows to see the scenery (or what little is left of that is in today's cities) outside.

Design includes a lot of factors. Layout is, of course, the most important. However circulation and climatology are (if not equally important) also very important factors.

How you treat the layout depends also upon the prevailing wind directions and the resulting wind flow that is created post construction. So if your buildings are low-rise, you can rest after considering just the prevailing wind directions. However, if you have densely packed high-rise buildings, then the resulting flow needs to be considered.

Similarly, while designing windows, not only the wind speed and direction, but also the sun lighting and natural heat due to sun needs to be considered. So in cold countries you have large windows to let in a lot of sun, whereas in hot countries you have smaller windows to avoid the extra sun.

I think most guidelines are available on the net itself. However do look up some books on climatology to help you.

Consider the fact that while the employee may be working, his/her family will be spending most parts of the day in the house.

Check out Vastu guidelines for plantations. They encourage a natural healthy atmosphere, but are not binding.
Chitradeep Sengupta


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