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The module THERMODYNAMIC DESIGN STRATEGIES explores the design opportunities which the field of thermodynamics and ecology is opening to architecture, and specifically to the field of collective housing. From a practical and project-oriented stand point, the module focuses on connecting thermodynamics and ecology to architecture with the objective of finding potential design strategies which bridge the void between quantitative and qualitative approaches. Contrary to current energy approaches to architecture which are based on quantitative analysis, the module bridges the gulf between energy and architecture, exploring those disciplinary parameters —such as spatial and material structure, program or perception— which are specifically connected to its material and atmospheric performativity.

The module is formed by a seminar and a workshop which, mediating between the technical and the cultural aspects of architecture, make explicit a hands-on approach which is focused on propelling design strategies and on its implementation on real practice.

The module starts with a seminar which introduces the ideas and concepts underlying a thermodynamic approach to architecture. The seminar focuses on three fields of enquiry: the first part explores the metabolic-logistical dimension of architecture, the second part the atmospheric-climatic approach to architecture, and the third topic unpacks the durability and adaptation of building usage in time. After these ideas have been assimilated, the module will continue with a collective housing design project to test how the theoretical ideas can be implemented.




The seminar will explore the connections between architecture and energy in three realms —construction, climatic performance and usage— through a series of sessions conducted by Javier García-Germán, together with couples of guest lecturers with specific expertise in the three mentioned fields.

Approaching the constructive, the atmospheric and the open-ended dimension of a building need a multidisciplinary focus. Only through a transversal perspective are the dimensions of these architectural endeavors unraveled. As a result each of the sessions will combine two guest lecturers. On the one hand a practicing architect who focuses his projects and oeuvre in the mentioned topics, and on the other hand an expert whose technical knowledge is complementary to the architect’s, and whose field of expertise will range from physics to engineering, depending on the lecture’s topic.

All guest lecturers are practicing architects or engineers currently involved in ongoing projects with the sole objective of underlining the practical dimension of this seminar.

The sessions will start with an introductory lecture by Javier García-Germán, followed by two lectures by experts in the field, and will be closed with a discussions in which students are welcome to participate.


-Tuesday 16th January 2018

Introduction: Climate and Architecture

Javier García-Germán


 -Wednesday 17th January 2018


Javier García-Germán


-Monday 22nd January 2018

Metabolism: Material Cycles

Introduction: Javier García-Germán

Expert in the field: Begoña de Abajo and Carlos García

Practicing architect: Alberto Nanclares, Basurama


 -Thursday 25th January 2018

Atmospheres I: Thermodynamic Animism

Introduction: Javier García-Germán

Expert in the field: Izabela Wieczorek (University of Reading, UK)


-Monday 29th January 2018

Atmospheres II. Material Atmospheres

Introduction: Javier García-Germán


Javier García-Germán


 - Tuesday 30th January 2018

Atmospheres II. Material Atmospheres

Introduction: Javier García-Germán

Practicing architect: Roger Tudó, H Arquitectes Barcelona


-Wednesday 31st January 2018

Architecture and Use. From infrastructures to rooms

Introduction: Javier García-Germán

Expert in the field: Enrique Espinosa, Madrid (ex-PKMN)

Practicing architect: MAIO, Barcelona


-Monday 5th February 2018


Javier García-Germán


-Wednesday 7th February 2018


Javier García-Germán


-Friday 9th February 2018

Workshop and Final Jury

Javier García-Germán

Almudena Ribot

Auxiliadora Gálvez




The idea of integrating a seminar and workshop is to introduce a series of ideas and concepts and, simultaneously, to learn how to introduce them in a given design process, thus reinforcing the practical approach of this module.

This workshop departs from the structural connection that exists between the climate of a given location and the culture unfolded by its inhabitants. This question which has been rarely addressed by architects, underpins a wide array of questions which connect climate to social patterns, local lifestyles, how people dress themselves or how is architecture inhabited.

From this perspective, a thermodynamic approach to architecture needs to explore the interactions between the local climate, the spatial and material particularities of architecture, and the lifestyle of its users.

Contrary to mainstream practice which deploys a top-down approach which proceeds from outdoor massing to indoor space, this studio explores the potential to conceive architecture from the interior. The objective is to design a building starting from the particular atmospheres demanded by its users. As a result, departing from the specific ambient conditions needed by users, students will define the set of sources and sinks required to induce specific atmospheric situations.

Climatic typologies will be a useful tool as it offers the possibility to bridge the gulf between local climate and specific everyday life patterns. Climatic typologies show how architecture can interact between a given climate and the way people live and socialize, offering the potential to connect the spatial and material lineaments with the specific physiological and psychological behaviors, bridging the gulf between the thermodynamic processes induced by architecture and the quotidian behavior of its inhabitants.

Starting from quotidian situations the studio will proceed defining interior space, and through gradual steps will explore consecutive architectural scales: first a domestic space and later a collective housing program. The workshop will be developed in groups of two students, and each group will work in a different climatic location across the planet.



This design workshop will have three consecutive stages:


-EXERCISE 1: Chose location climate, material culture and physiology

The students will explore the climate of specific locations together with the human physiological adaptation to this climatic situation. Preliminary listing and ranking. Also will include a revision of historical references and material culture references.


Submission: 1 dinA1 vertical on 18th of January.


-EXERCISE 2: Everyday Life: Sources and Sinks

The students will explore through references (projects, images, etc.) the intersection between a particular climate and inhabitation patterns. This exercise, ranging from architectural references to everyday life, will focus on finding references about climatic typologies (historical and contemporary), social patterns and lifestyles, clothing, food patterns, etc.

The students will explore the thermodynamic performance of the selected references showing the spatial, material and programmatic interaction between sources and sinks. Definition of energy flows indicating pressure, temperature, etc. gradients, and the interaction between these and physiological and psychological effects. Emphasis on thermodynamic graphics and representation, and simulation tools.


Submission: 1 dinA1 vertical on 25th of January for jury with Izabela Wieczorek.


-EXERCISE 3: Design an interior space

The students will design an interior space which takes on board the findings developed in the previous 3 exercises. Starting from the desired everyday life situations, the students will give a precise response in which spatial and material systems will interact with inhabitation patterns, clearly identifying the thermodynamic patterns at work, with special emphasis on definition of kind of flows, sources and sinks of flows, collection/storage/emission patterns, etc. The thermodynamic graphics unfolded on Exercise 3 will be applied. The students will develop at least four thermodynamic strategies: a winter day and night, and summer day and night strategy.


Submission: 1 dinA1 vertical on 30th of January for jury with Roger Tudó.


-EXERCISE 4: Exterior massing. Connection to outdoor climate
The students will connect the interior spaces to the outdoor climate, designing massing and material strategies which interconnect interior architectural and inhabitation patterns to outdoor patterns. The collective program will be introduced into the design process.

Submission: 1 dinA1 vertical on 5th of February for jury with Javier Garcia-Germán.



Drawing upon the previous exercises, the students will assemble the different strategies unfolding a final project for the workshop.
Submission: 2-4 dinA1 vertical on 9th of February for jury with professors Almudena Ribot, Auxiliadora Gálvez and Javier Garcia-Germán.
The proposed pedagogy will, through its disciplinary apparatus, inscribe architecture in the global, social and ecological networks in which it is embedded, making explicit the dialectics between disciplinary autonomy and contingent engagement.


Useful bibliography for the workshop will be:
-Abalos, Iñaki and Ibañez, Daniel. editors. Thermodynamics Applied to High-rise and Mixed Use Prototypes. 2012. Harvard Graduate School of Design: Cambridge, Massachusets.
-Dollfus, Jean. Les Aspects de L’architecture Populaire dans le Monde. 1954. Alber Morancé: Paris.

-Neila González, Javier. Arquitectura Bioclimática en un Entorno Sostenible. 2004. Munilla-lería: Madrid.
-Mazria, Edward. The Passive Solar Energy Book. Expanded Professional Edition. 1979. Rodale Press, Emmaus, Pa.
-Olgyay, Victor. Design with Climate:Bioclimatic Approach to Architectural Regionalism. 1963. Princeton University Press. Princeton: New Jersey.




Metabolism: Material Cycles
Buildings can be understood as material and energy systems nested in broader ecological contexts. Far from being considered isolated objects, buildings operate in an expanded field, which links its structure to distant ecosystems around the geo-biosphere, where its material constituents come from. This places the building’s structure beyond the visual dimension of architecture situating its logistics within the field of ecology. This session delineate the opportunities and potential this field of research offers to architecture.


Compulsory readings:
-Pierre Bélanger, “Ecology 5.0” in New Geographies 06. Grounding Metabolism. Editors: G.Nikos Katsikis & Daniel Ibanez. 2014. GSD, Harvard University. Pages 183-187.
-Hebel, Dirk. “Introduction. Building from Waste” in Wisniewska M.; Heisel F.; and Hebel, D. Building from Waste: Recovered Materials in Architecture and Construction. 2014. Birkhauser Verlag AG, Zürich. Pages 7-19.
-Brenner, Neil. “Rescaling the Urban Question” in New Geographies 0. Pages 60-71.
-Kiel Moe, “The Non-Nodern Struggle for Maximum Entropy” in New Geographies 06. Grounding Metabolism. Editors: G.Nikos Katsikis & Daniel Ibanez. 2014. GSD, Harvard University. Pages 174-183.


Recommended readings
-Kiel Moe, Convergence. An Architectural Agenda for Energy. 2013. Routledge: New York, London. -McDonough & Braungart. Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way we Make Things. 2002. North Point Press. Capítulo 4 “Waste Equals Food” pages 102-115.
-Wisniewska M.; Heisel F.; and Hebel, D. Building from Waste: Recovered Materials in Architecture and Construction. 2014. Birkhauser Verlag AG, Zürich.


Atmospheres 1. Thermodynamic Animism or the opportunity climatic architecture offers to provide a healthy and stimulating environment

From the inducement of objective environmental phenomena to its subjective human perception, this session explores how the scope of atmosphere-to-body interactions has evolved during the last century. Starting with the pioneering experiments with ventilation, in which interactions were limited to the chemical exchanges between the atmosphere and human health, and going through air-conditioning and its psychrometric atmospheric delivery, this lecture will end analyzing the current situation, in which the politics and aesthetics of the non-visible environment are challenging the visual predominance that architecture has had until now.
The aim is to explore the manner in which this vaporous environment can become the object of architectural design. In a thermodynamic realm in which user and environment are entangled in space and time, design agency has shifted to the production of somatic effects. Taking distance from the mechanical and structural devices which induce atmospheric effects —which have already been discussed in the previous session— this lecture attempts to grasp the potential the thermodynamic interactions between the non-visible environment and the human body have for architectural design.


Compulsory readings:
-del Sol, Germ n; Benedito, Silvia. “On Atmosphere and Landscape” in Harvard Design Magazine no. 40 Well, Well, Well.
-Addington, Michelle “The Unbounded Boundary” in García-Germán, Javier. Thermodynamic Interactions. An Architectural Exploration into Territorial, Material and Physiological Atmospheres. 2016. ACTAR: New York.
-Hight, Christopher. “the New Somatic Architecture” in Harvard Design Magazine, issue no.30. Page 26.
-Malllgrave, Harry Francis. “Architecture of the Senses” in García-Germán, Javier. Thermodynamic Interactions. An Architectural Exploration into Territorial, Material and Physiological Atmospheres. 2016. ACTAR: New York.


Recommended readings:

-Borasi, G.; Zardini, M. editors. Imperfect Health. The Medicalization of Architecture. 2012. Canadian Center for Architecture: Montreal. Lars Müller Publishers: Zürich.
-García-Germán, Javier. Thermodynamic Interactions. An Architectural Exploration into Territorial, Material and Physiological Atmospheres. 2016. ACTAR: New York.
-Givoni, Barach. Man, Climate and Architecture. 1969. Elsevier Publishing Company LImited: AMsterdam, London, New York.
-Heschong, Lisa. Thermal Delight in Architecture. 1979. MIT Press: Cambridge, Massachusetts. -Mallgrave, Harry Francis. Architecture and Embodiment: The Implications of the New Sciences and Humanities for Design. 2013. Routledge: New York, London.
-Olgyay, Victor. Design with Climate: Bioclimatic Approach to Architectural Regionalism. 1963. Princeton University Press. Princeton: New Jersey.
-Rahm, Philippe. Architecture Météorologique. 2009. Archibooks + Sautereau Éditeur: Paris.


Atmospheres II. Material atmospheres or the opportunity architecture has to engage dissipating climatic energy flows

This session discusses the interest that has emerged in the last decade in a performance-oriented architecture which attempts to recover the precise articulation between structure and indoor atmosphere that climatic typologies have displayed since immemorial time. In contrast to the air-conditioned building which eliminated architecture’s climatic adaptations, the second part discusses how architecture is re-invigorating the connection between structure and climate, emphasizing the importance of its spatial, material and programmatic arrangements. The shift from mechanical to structural climate control explores —vis-à-vis the passage from steady-state systems to open thermodynamic systems— the potential climate has to reconnect technical and disciplinary questions with the broader cultural context, showing the potential these questions have to propel design practices forward.


Compulsory readings:

-Abalos, Iñaki. “Thermodynamic Materialism” in Essays on Thermodynamic, Architecture and Beauty, Ábalos, I.; Sentkiewicz, R. 2015. ACTAR: New York. Pages 220-229.
-García-Germán, Javier. “La Sección Como Herramienta Termodinámica”. Artículo en Catálogo del Pabellón Español para la XIV Bienal de Arquitectura de Venecia INTERIOR. 2014.
-Moe, K.. “Insulating North America” in Journal of Construction History, vol. 27. January 2013. Pages 87-106.
-Rahm, Philippe. “Form and Function Follow Climate” in Environ(ne)ment: Approaches for Tomorrow. Giovana Borasi, editor. CCA and Skira: Montreal, Milan.


Recommended readings:
-García-Germán, Javier. Thermodynamic Interactions. An Architectural Exploration into Territorial, Material and Physiological Atmospheres. 2016. ACTAR: New York.
-Olgyay, Victor. Design with Climate: Bioclimatic Approach to Architectural Regionalism. 1963. Princeton University Press. Princeton: New Jersey.
-Performance-Oriented Architecture. Rethinking Architecture Design and the Built Environment. 2013. John Wiley & Sons Limited: Chichester, West Sussex, U.K..
Architecture and Use. From Infrastructure to Rooms


Compulsory readings:
-Forty, Adrian. Words and buildings. A vocabulary of modern architecture. Thames & Hudson, London 2000. Chapter: FLEXIBILITY, p.142-148 (see scanned pages).!/Menu/general/columncontent/
-Lefebvre, Henri. La production de l'espace. Anthropos. Paris, 1974. La producción del espacio. Ed. Capitan Swing. Madrid, 2013, Capítulo 2 “El Espacio social”, Apartado XV (sobre apropiación y dominación) pp. 212-216
-Sadri, Hossein; Sadri, Senem Zeyebkoglu. “The right to appropriation: spatial rights and the use of space. [Re] appropriation of the city. Architecture as a tool for the re-appropriation of the contemporary city”. Scientific conference October 9th-11th - Polis University, Tirana, Albania. ISBN:978-9928-4053-9-5.
-Iglesia, Rafael E. J. “La vida doméstica y los objetos”. IAA nº 165, 2011
-Vidal Moranta, Tomeu; Pol Urrutia, Enric. “La apropiación del espacio: una propuesta teórica para comprender la vinculación entre las personas y los lugares”. Anuario de Psicología Facultat de Psicologia, Universitat de Barcelona, 2005, vol. 36, nº 3, pp. 281-297
-Sala Llopart, Blanca. “Antropología y arquitectura. La apropiación del espacio del h bitat”. ELISAVA TdD Nº 16, 2000, Barcelona.


Recommended readings:
-Bachelard, Gastón: La poética del espacio, México, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1957.
-Baudrillard, Jean: El sistema de los objetos, Madrid/México, Siglo XXI, 1969.
-Boudon, Philippe. Lived-in architecture– Le Corbusier’s Pessac revisited. MIT Press.
Cambridge, 1979.
-Bollnow, Otto Friedrich: Hombre y espacio, Barcelona, Labor, 1969.
-Chombart de Lauewe, P.: Famille et Habitation, Paris, CNRS, 1960.
-De Certau, Michel: La invención de lo cotidiano. México, Universidad Iberoamericana,1999.
-Koolhaas, R, Mau, B. SMLXL, The Monacelli Press. New York,1995, pp.239-240.
-Korosec-Serafty (Ed.) Appropriation of space. Proceedings of the 3rd lnternational Architectural Psychology Conference. Strasbourg: CIACO, 1976.
-Barbey, G. "The appropriation of the home space".
-Chombart de Lauwe, P-H. "Appropriation of space and social change".



Javier García-Germán is Associate Professor of Architectural Design at the ETSAM since 2007, where he is director of the Energy and Sustainability module in the Master’s Degree in Collective Housing and director of Ecological Urbanism module in the Master in City Sciences. He studied architecture at the ETSAM (Honors), the Oxford School of Architecture and at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (master in Design Studies), where he was Fulbright Scholar. He received his Ph.D. in architecture —Thermodynamic Environments. A Critical Cartography on Energy, Architecture and Atmosphere— in ETSAM (2014).

In 2005 he founded TAAs —totem arquitectos asociados— an award-winning practice based in Madrid which explores the connections between climate, architecture and users. TAAs is currently building a thermodynamic office building in Madrid and finishing the construction detailing of a 159 unit collective housing for the Ayuntamiento de Madrid.

In addition García-Germán has authored several articles in international periodicals and edited several books on energy and architecture, among others Thermodynamic Interactions. An Architectural Exploration into Physiological, Material and Territorial Atmospheres (2016, ACTAR), De lo Mecánico a lo Termodinámico (2010, Gustavo Gili) and Contextos 2008. Hacia un Nuevo Entorno Energético (2008, UCJC).

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