UVa | A R C H 2013

Thermally Active Surfaces

In our reading, “Thermally Active Surfaces: Physiology and Thermodynamics,” Moe asks the simple question: “Why do we heat and cool buildings with air?”  This question really got me thinking.  Only in the last century have we installed HVAC systems into our buildings.  For thousands of years, people relied on the thermal mass of materials, the orientation to the sun and the site in order to create different microclimates.  I believe that we should look back at this concept and reconnect with the site and the materials we use.

“Thermally active surface systems are inherently integrated solutions because the structure, enclosure, and human comfort systems are the same system.  This saves not only energy for heating and cooling loads but design, coordination, organization, and labor energy in building production.”  Integrating thermally active surface systems puts the focus towards the architectural systems, rather than the technical ones.  It fosters the importance of creating a system as a total entity with relationships between “body, program, technology, material, and form.”  I think looking at these sustainable ideas is not only energy efficient, but it also creates a sustainable relationship between the structure and the surrounding, making it something meaningful that will remain for years to come.


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