Andre J Fanthome
Automation is everywhere around us - our homes, furniture, offices, cars, and even our clothing; we have become so accustomed to being surrounded by automated systems that we have forgotten what life was like without them. And while automation has noticeably improved the quality of interior spaces with solutions like purified air and temperature control, nothing compares to the natural cool breeze of mother nature.
But just like everything else in architecture, there is no one size fits all; what works in Tanzania cannot work in Switzerland or Colombia. This is due to several reasons, such as the difference in wind direction, average temperature, spatial needs, and environmental restrictions (or lack thereof). In this article, we take a look at natural ventilation in all its forms, and how architects have employed this passive solution in different contexts.
Ventilation serves two main purposes in a room: first, to remove pollutants and provide clean air; second, to meet the metabolic needs of the occupants, providing pleasant temperatures (weather permitting). It is well known that environments with inadequate ventilation can bring serious harm to the health of the occupants and, especially in hot climates, thermal discomfort. A Harvard University study demonstrated that in buildings with good ventilation and better air quality (with lower rates of carbon dioxide), occupants showed better performance of cognitive functions, faster responses to extreme situations, and better reasoning in strategic activities.
It is not difficult to see that ventilation plays a vital role in ensuring adequate air quality and thermal comfort in buildings. We have all felt it. But when we talk about ventilation, a light breeze from the window might come to mind, shifting through our hair and bringing a pleasant aroma and cooling temperature that brings fresh air and comfort. In mild climates, this experience can even be a reality on many days of the year. In harsh climates or polluted spaces, it could be quite different.