For their honorable mention competition entry, Betillon/Dorval-Bory have attempted to create a new architectural language rooted in climate analysis for Fundecor, a non-governmental organization focused on environmental preservation. The procedure for creating the project is largely about understanding environmental systems and then allowing the building to respond and support those technical aspects for the desired result. As such, the architecture is “not trying to hide in a neo-vernacular posture, but celebrates its radicalism in aid of its atmospheric functioning.” More about the competition entry after the break.
A primary feature of the project is to develop a comfortable indoor atmosphere that addresses the climate of Costa Rica. To generate a breeze on a site that has little wind, the architects have allowed the building to carry out the natural phenomenon of anabatic wind production (creating a temperature difference that generates a convective motion of air masses) by using a “dark zone” thermal mass in the South. The surface will become the epicenter of a major upward movement of air as fresh air will replace the stagnant air by suction. “If we channel the fresh air, limiting the three sides of the dark area by a wall, air can flow from only one side. It is on this side that our building will be built, slightly downwards to prevent reflux of hot air,” explained the architects.
To channel fresh air and to ensure the production of wind, the building fits in a horizontal airtight tube, a direct transposition of an aerodynamics wind tunnel. The program within this tube is organized to create independent program cells so the building functions “more as a village, as a composition of separate chambers between which the wind blows.”
The project’s success lies in its ability to harmoniously connect the need for sustainable systems with programmatic functions. For instance, the dark zone becomes a parking lot for the building as the material used (black tar) supports thermal storage. And, the overall aesthetic is also informed by the notion of daylight control as a metal mesh filters the sunrays to reduce overheating and allows air to circulate freely within the volume.