Post -by Gautam Shah
An effective climate (actual feel) of a place emerges from the comprehensive mix of three basic factors: Temperature, Humidity and Air movement. To create an equitable environment, we need to hasten, delay, curtail, terminate, enhance or dilute the effects of these factors. The equitable environment is also achieved by siting, size, shape and form (openings and other architectural features) of the building. These are static and strategic means of comfort. Dynamic and tactical comfort solutions, however, are achieved through a persistent time and space management of tasks, reorientation of lifestyle settings, by adjusting the food and clothing. An Interior Designer as a building engineer may not enforce the lifestyles, food or clothing solutions, but awareness about these aspects helps generate a better design.
Siting of a Building and the internal components: Interior design solutions rarely create new places (sites) for buildings, but a designer must know how to take advantage of the existing site conditions for relocating the internal components. It includes siting and scheduling the activities, providing surface treatments (texture, colour, insulation and latent heat capacities), redesigning the openings, and establishing architectonic elements (such as the shading devices) for controlling the solar gain.
Size of the building, and its blocks: Unitary buildings are more compact in mass and show ‘single space thermal behaviour’. Compartmentalized or blocked buildings on the other hand have separated zones with distinguishing thresholds and intermediate buffer portions offer many different types of thermal profiles. Such variegated sections are easy to manage and exploit for appropriate activities. A compact building has lesser external surface area and so lesser heat gain, but also reduced heat loss. Pol houses (Ahmedabad, India) are raw houses with common walls and for the hot arid climate have lesser heat gain.
Shape of the building: The shape of a building has three major relevance: surface area, perimeter and orientation to sun and wind. A simple shape (cubical) has lesser surface area compared to a zigzag shaped or ‘winged’ building. A building with larger surface (i.e. foot-print with greater perimeter) has larger heat gain (summers) and loss (winters). A zigzag or winged building creates many shaded area which are thermal and wind pressure differentiated zones and used for thermal and air movements.
Most societies have repertoire of matured customs and traditions for climatic adoption. These knowledge get passed on from one to another generation. In a stable society the ethnic scene is full of fail-safe climate related strategies. However, in rapidly changing societies there is substantial infusion of new ideas, where migrants bring in new house forms and lifestyles. The Young migrants who possibly have had no opportunity to imbibe the accumulated knowledge of climate adoption from the place of their origin, find it very difficult to establish in an alien situation.