Environment and Architecture
Effect of Climate on Architectural Form
Conscious Modification of the Microclimate
Trends in International Architecture
When an engineer designs a machine, a bridge, or a regulator, each line in his drawings is the result of a great accumulation of laws and principles from a dozendifferent mechanical sciences. He designs the machine to withstand a certain amount of strain and to do a particular job. In both these aspects he must consider and apply all that he has been taught in such fields as physics, dynamics, structural mechanics, and the resistance of materials, and must put into each line a whole library of expertise.
Similarly, when an architect designs a town or abuilding, every line is determined by the application of the same complex set of mechanical laws, with the addition of a whole collection of other sciences whose provinces are less well defined: the sciences that concern man in his environment and society. These sciences-sociology, economics, climatology, theory of architecture, aesthetics, and the study of culture in general-are no less important tothe architect than are the mechanical sciences, for they are directly concerned with man, and it is for man that architecture exists.
The mechanical side of an architect's work-ensuring that his building will stand and provide protection against the elements, or that the street pattern of a town performs its function efficiently-is no more than a preliminary to his real creation. Only when hehas provided these mechanical prerequisites, which should be incorporated without question or argument, can he begin to consider the real problem of designing a building. He is rather like the pianist who can start to interpret the music he plays only after he has mastered the technique of piano playing.
A machine is independent of its environment. It is little affected by climate and not at all bysociety. A person, however, is a member of a living organism that constantly reacts to its environment, changing it and being changed by it.
A plant provides a good example of the mutual interaction between a living organism and its environment. It possesses its own heat and water economies. Its respiratory heat is the result of metabolism which tends to raise its temperature, just as withanimals. It perspires, and the evaporation of this perspiration leads to cooling, since every gram of water given off requires between 570 and 601) calories from the plant, depending on the air temperature. Consequently, plants exert a reaction on the microclimate of their environment and to some extent adjust their own temperature to their particular needs.
In the same way, a building is affected byits environment. The climate of the locality and the buildings around it mold the building, so that, even though social, cultural, and economic aspects are important, it owes much of its shape to these factors.
Effect of Climate on Architectural Form
Climate, in particular, produces certain easily observed effects on architectural forms. For example, the proportion of window area to wall areabecomes less as one moves toward the equator. In warm areas, people shun the glare and heat of the sun, as demonstrated by the decreasing size of the windows. In the subtropical and tropical zones, more distinctive changes in architectural form occur to meet the problems caused by excessive heat. In Egypt, Iraq, India, and Pakistan, deep loggias, projecting balconies, and overhangs casting longshadows on the walls of buildings are found. Wooden or marble lattices fill large openings to subdue the glare of the sun while permitting the breeze to pass through. Such arrangements characterize the architecture of hot zones, and evoke comfort as well as aesthetic satisfaction with the visible endeavors of man to protect himself against the excessive heat. Today a great variety of devices such as...
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