Understanding the environment complexity
Welcome to the School of Architecture.
This module on Understanding the Environment Complexity is part of the proposed curriculum for the bold experiment to teach Architecture online, which is unique, and unprecedented. Historically, it is a fact that some of the best architects in the world have been self learners, this School of Architecture proposes a practical guide of the most important steps that have made us Architects. You will enjoy this experimental process and the amazing experience of become an Architect.
Introduction[edit | edit source]
Just imagine: "In the developed world, buildings consume half the energy we generate and are responsible for half of CO2 emissions...that is alarming enough. But what will happen as the developing world catches up?" -- Norman Foster in a special CNN online feature examining visionary ideas for the 21st Century.
Of course, for those unconcerned about global warming, that energy use is still a concern in terms of economics. Further, energy use by buildings is only a small fraction of the focus of architecture, since the profession deals with so many other concerns. The title of this section: ENVIRONMENT COMPLEXITY should not be misconstrued as focusing on "environmentalism" but instead the ENVIRONMENT or PLACE. To clarify, this is to discuss the metaphysical aspect of SPACE and TIME. Architecture by its nature is an art that develops the built environment, those elements of our world constructed by man. It is an art that deals with fixed locations, or places. While mobile homes exist, they are not architecture. While one could move a building with the right planning and procedure, that is not architecture. Architecture is of a fixed place.
Place has an important role in architecture. Does anyone doubt the fact that replica Eiffel Towers in other places lack the presence and power to affect our emotions and psyche like the original in Paris. Would the Taj Mahal make sense in Tulsa, Oklaholma? When one approaches a fine building, its surroundings - both natural and man-made - have an important effect upon the building in question.
Architecture both influences and is influenced by its environment.
Nature[edit | edit source]
Before humans started constructing shelter, the natural world was. Whatever occurred to cause humankind to exit the caves and begin structuring their own world, whether the advent of agriculture or the gaining of conscience as a thinking people, it was an immediate exercise in responding to the natural environment. In the cave, mankind was sheltered from cold and wind and rain, but it was an existence dependant on geography and migration patterns of wild beasts. Building one's own shelter allowed men to emerge from the cave and create their own world based on their needs and desires.
This early development of man-made structures, however, was shaped and molded by the forces that surround us: gravity, sun, wind, rain (snow), etc. In each clime, primitive peoples developed structures appropriate for the local environment, to afford the greatest level of comfort possible in a stone age world. Fast forward to today. High technology and abundant oil has allowed mankind to create hermetically sealed boxes capable of creating interior environments that ignore natural forces. The result is a lack of understanding of concepts as simple as natural ventilation, which was commonly understood and practiced just 100 years ago.
Many now worry about global warming. Others worry about availability of energy. Both share a growing consensus that our buildings must respond to the environment and take advantage of natural forces to assist in the creation of comfortable spaces. In order to do that, however, it is important for the architect to understand some basic concepts of environmental science, including basic meteorology, biology, chemistry, physics, and other hard sciences. This section aims at covering the basics of those sciences that directly relate to the design of buildings for human occupation. It is assumed that the students of this section have completed at least high school.