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Air Conditioning: The Latest Architecture and News

How are Cities Adapting to Heatwaves in the Face of Climate Change

The climate crisis has made heat waves more likely and more intense around the world. In the northern hemisphere, the record-breaking temperatures are putting millions of people in danger. During the last months, recurring heatwaves have been affecting Central and Western Europe, causing wildfires, evacuations, and heat-related deaths. In the United States, local leaders are also urging caution, while densely populated cities in Asia are announcing strategies for coping with the extreme temperatures.

Cities are on the front lines of this public health emergency. People living in urban areas are among the hardest hit when heatwaves happen, partly because of urban heat islands. This is a phenomenon that occurs when cities replace the natural land cover with dense concentrations of surfaces that absorb and retain heat, like pavements and buildings. Heat risk levels also vary by neighborhood, with less affluent and historically marginalized sectors being the most affected due to the density of the population, limited access to cooling systems, and the limited availability of green urban spaces.

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Design Before Air Conditioning: A New Book Surveys Early Experiments in Climate Control

It’s easy to think of Modernism as inseparable from air conditioning, simply because we are surrounded by so much of it that is. A valuable reminder that this wasn’t always the case is provided in University of Pennsylvania architecture professor Daniel A. Barber’s Modern Architecture and Climate: Design Before Air Conditioning (Princeton University Press), which outlines the story of the febrile, flexible, and often-forgotten early experiments in climate control.

This Innovative Cooling Installation Fights Soaring Temperatures in New Delhi

This installation is a bespoke attempt to simplify and reinterpret the concept of air-conditioning, understanding that standardized solutions may not be universally applicable given the constraints of cost and surrounding environment. Using computational technologies, the team at Ant Studio has reinterpreted traditional evaporative cooling techniques to build a prototype of cylindrical clay cones, each with a custom design and size.

5 Passive Cooling Alternatives Using Robotics and Smart Materials

The IAAC (Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia) has developed a series of advanced materials and systems for air conditioning and passive ventilation, allowing homes to reduce interior temperatures up to 5 degrees lower while saving the electricity consumption caused by the traditional air-conditioning. The systems are made from long-lifespan materials, which lower the costs of maintenance in the long-term and can be used as low-cost alternative building technologies.

The projects highlighted are the Breathing Skin, Hydroceramics, Hydromembrane, Morphluid and Soft Robotics - all developed by students of the IAAC's Digital Matter Intelligent Constructions (conducted by Areti Markopoulou). The passive air-conditioning of spaces is investigated using a combination of new materials that mimic organic processes, adaptive structures and Robotics that help regulate temperature and create sustainable micro climates.

How Air Conditioning Helped Shape Architectural History (For Better or Worse)

This article originally appeared on Curbed as "How air conditioning shaped modern architecture—and changed our climate."

During a conversation with the New Yorker, a window washer who worked on the Empire State Building says that some of his toughest moments have been cleaning the trash that tenants toss out the windows. In his many years working on the Depression-era skyscraper, he’s wiped numerous half-empty coffee cups off window panes, and even scraped 20 gallons of strawberry preserves from the building’s facade. Tossed out in the winter, it stubbornly clung to the outside of the skyscraper.

Cracking a window open in a skyscraper seems like a quirk, especially today, when hermetically sealed steel-and-glass giants offer the promise of climate-controlled comfort. But ever since Chicago’s Home Insurance Building, considered one of the first skyscrapers, opened in 1884, the challenge of airflow, ventilation, and keeping tenants cool has been an important engineering consideration shaping modern architecture.

The great commercial buildings of the modern era owe their existence, in many ways, to air conditioning, an invention with a decidedly mixed legacy.