UVa | A R C H 2013

The Architecture of Air

This week, we have learned about how we can manipulate air to create different conditions in a building. Before air conditioning existed, many different types of vernacular architecture was designed in order to manipulate the flow of air. For example, Malaysian houses are raised on stilts in order to capture and cool air from below and has vents in the roof to let the warm air escape. As buildings became more complex and closed off to the external environment, there was a demand for ventilation systems and air conditioning systems. First developed for textile mills, air conditioners were designed to remove humidity in the air with chilled water. As the popularity of air conditioners grew, architects were able to create a comfortable environment within a building, no matter where it was located or how it was built.
Although air conditioning gave some freedom to architects, it also wasted a lot of energy. As the demand to save energy grows, architects and engineers are now looking back to before air conditioning to see how they can create comfortable, yet sustainable interior spaces. One building that is following this track is my case study, the New York Times Building. Instead of having the ventilation system in the ceiling, the air comes out of the floor. This allows the air to naturally flow from the ground to the ceiling as it warms up. This saves energy because air doesn’t have to be at such a low temperature to be comfortable.

source: “The Air We Breathe” by Guy Battle



  charchitecture wrote @

Battle makes some very interesting arguments in his reading. He makes people aware that air conditioning is an overused luxury and provides different case studies and examples of ways to use AC less. I think his example of the Commerzbank with the double skin facades was very helpful in understanding different ways of creating ventilation/clean air circulation through a building.

  Kaity Badlato wrote @

I definitely agree with you and Battle. Air conditioning is overused and although it allows architects to build extraordinary buildings, I believe that architecture should respond to its environment.

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