Searching for a “Bioclimatic Law” in Architecture

Comfort and the Ethics of (Human) Performance

Authored by: William W. Braham

The Routledge Companion to Paradigms of Performativity in Design and Architecture

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  December  2019

Print ISBN: 9780367076191
eBook ISBN: 9780429021640
Adobe ISBN:


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Bioclimatic design emerged as a fully-formed architectural ethic in 1963 with the publication of Design with Climate: A Bioclimatic Approach to Architectural Regionalism by Victor Olgyay. In its pure form, it makes no mention of energy or HVAC systems and promises a bioclimatic “law” to translate climate analysis into a regionally specific architecture to counter the universalizing tendencies of contemporary construction. This article traces the history of bioclimatic design from its roots in agricultural practices to its application to buildings and subsequent transformation in their mechanization through the twentieth century. For architecture, bioclimatic design relies on the paradoxical measure of thermal comfort, which is the condition in which people are most productive. The article concludes with the description of an expanded bioclimatic method that connects climate analysis with the complexities of life as it is lived and buildings as they are actually built and used.

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