Diébédo Francis Kéré primary school Gando SE of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

In a building, the shell (shape. size, materials etc.), its siting, the amenities, etc., are more or less constant factors, whereas the variables are, climatic factors, inhabitants and activities of the inhabitants. When constants and variables are appropriately matched, we get an environment that is always in a flux, only partly predicable, but mostly full of surprises.


Wind Towers Iran

Ideally a Design of a Building should begin with the climate of the region and its local variant, but in real life one has to be very adaptive. Some of the problems that designers face while designing with the climate are:


1.       Building is often required to be located in a climate region that is essentially inappropriate for the intended activity, e.g. A dehydration plant in a tropical rain forest area.


2.       A building consists of several sub units (limbs), some of which will have either inferior or superior climatic orientation, e.g. Parking on a west side of a building / bedroom on a windward side.


3.       Environmental requirements are often so exact or acute that traditional climate modulation techniques, e.g. Building shape, materials, orientations etc. are inadequate.


4.       Within a building the activities cannot be located permanently, because there are many hourly, daily and seasonal variations in the climate.


5.       In a building, an accurately located activity, may last longer than the affective duration of the particular type of climate, in that section.


6.       Activities often require very specific climate conditions, but whose occurrence such as wind, are not easily predictable.


7.       Some activities cannot be relocated to new areas to suit the hourly or seasonal changes in a climate, because the amenities with which they flourish are fixed.


From a climate point of view, a building behaves like a biological entity, that is in a continuous process of achieving equilibrium. But the process, towards the equilibrium, is not always favourable to the inhabitants or their activities.

Traditional house, Nias Island, Sumatra, Indonesia Passive Climate Design


We need to hasten, delay, curtail or terminate some of the climate processes. Primarily we use passive devices for the purpose. Such devices include shading devices, insulation systems, heat absorption or dissemination systems. When these are not feasible or relevant to control the climatic processes in a particular time and space frame, we try to modulate the climate by mechanical devices.