What is architecture? This question has changing answers throughout history. From primitive structures that were once for the sole purpose of shelter, to complex building systems that address a multitude of problems, architecture has evolved to become so many things. Today, our society is constantly changing and the idea of adaptable buildings has created new possibilities for exploration of design. However, our world is changing so quickly that new designs are quickly becoming old and not addressing long-term issues. One of the most complex issues to address is changing weather conditions.
As weather conditions are rapidly changing, the storms have become larger and stronger. In the past thirty-five years, the number of category four and five storms has greatly increased along with the temperature of the ocean (nrdc.org). In 2005, Hurricane Katrina was a warning sign that our current infrastructure and cities along coastlines are not resilient and do not have the ability to adapt to drastic weather patterns and storms. When New Orleans was built under sea level, no one would ever imagine that it would also face huge a devastating storm such as Hurricane Katrina. Now that we have learned about the possible disasters that can destroy current modes of design we must rethink the ways in which we design our cities and the ways in which buildings can respond to weather patterns.
As ocean temperatures rise, the current weather patterns are predicted to change and the number of intense rainstorms is also predicted to increase (nrdc.org). With all of these different weather patterns and advancements in technology, architecture has the possibility to design cities that are more resilient. Buildings can become more than shelter and act as a barrier to changing weather. Since weather patterns are predicted to become warmer and wetter, air conditioning units will become more inefficient and will need to work harder in order to create a cooler livable environment for humans. As temperatures become warmer and more humid, architects will have to create buildings that will be able to create a thermal comfort zone without the increase in energy consumption. As discussed in class, tropical climates elevate homes from the floor to promote natural ways of ventilation. According to the pyschrometric chart, natural and fan ventilation prove to be the most successful cooling methods in humid and hot climates. Raising buildings from the ground will also be useful to avoid flooding from rainfalls and intense storms such as hurricanes.
Here is a building that responds to the natural flooding of a lake by building the home elevated from the ground so when the river is flooded as shown below, the home still remains above the water.
Architecture has the ability to expand drastically to rethink just design and also respond and create systems that adapt to the long-term possibilities of weather patterns. By looking at architecture in a lens beyond design, the possibilities in which architecture can address these problems are greatly expanded. According to Lechner, the four factors that contribute to a change in heat are air temperature, humidity, air movement, and mean radiant temperature (Lechner 60). As discussed in the readings buildings have become thermal barriers in the past to reduce heat loss. In future we can think of architecture acting as a thermal barrier that promotes the cooling of air and ventilation. Skins of buildings have now become more active in thinking about their role in the environment and are becoming a system that addresses specific environmental needs. For example, Thom Faulders designed the Airspace building in Tokyo, Japan which utlilizes the skin of the building as a protective shield and method of privacy. The skin still allows for diffused light to enter into the house and also filters and stores rainwater. The skin allows for privacy and also functions to protect the home.
Here is an example of the foliage like skin that protects the building from harsh sunlight and filters water.
These unique methods are progressive ways for rethinking the way architecture can respond to our environment and create new dwelling places. Architecture can be many things and by adapting to long-term problems of our environment, they can be both protective shelter and also control our living environments