UVa | A R C H 2013

sustainable heating and cooling systems

Today in class, we learned about how we can use the built environment to manipulate the power of the sun to create a comfortable climate.  Instead of using air conditioning or heating systems, by orienting the windows and shading systems.  Le Corbusier used this method in the design of the Unite d’Habitation.  In the winter, when the sun is lower in the sky, the sun’s ray point directly into each unit, warming the interior space.  In the summer, when the sun is higher in the sky, the sun’s rays hit the horizontal shade instead, allowing the unit to be in the shade.

In Switzerland, and much of Europe, many buildings use their structures to manipulate the sun rather than rely on heating and cooling systems.  While I was in Switzerland, I stayed in the school’s historic villa.  Instead of installing an air conditioning system, the villa utilized its windows to cool the building.  By opening several windows, breezes would flow throughout the building.  The villa uses shutters to allow the moving air, but not the sun’s heat from entering.

It is not only the vernacular architecture which utilizes the systems, but many of the modern buildings design their facades in reaction to the path of the sun.  Many apartment buildings use blinds on the exterior of the building to prevent heat from permeating through the windows.

I think the US could benefit a lot from using this system because of our excess use of air conditioning.  We can still live and work in a comfortable, controlled environment without relying on electricity to provide it.

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1 Comment»

  charchitecture wrote @

kaity –

you make some great points here and I completely agree. I think buildings can be very comfortable using limited electricity. Even the architecture in Switzerland that you discussed is very simple – just opening and closing windows to allow for cross ventilation. It can be very easy and allows the inhabitors to interact more with the interior and exterior. I actually wrote a similar post and discussed the WSG Headquarters in Berlin where the louvers can be rotated by the inhabitants to allow more or less ventilation while windows and vents on the opposite side weave together to create more operable ventilation. The louvers are also colored so pedestrians can witness this interaction as well.


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