In recent years, ecological elements and sustainable architecture have become an increasing trend. Bioclimatic architecture is among the most outstanding ways of joining both, seeking coherence between construction and energy efficiency, always taking into account the outdoor spaces and the maximum comfort of the people who live there. That is why, we would like to talk about what bioclimatic architecture is let's check some inspiring examples.
If we focus on the term, bioclimatic architecture is defined as the design and construction of buildings that considers environmental conditions and uses them to benefit the needs of the users of the building. "Bioclimatic" refers to the relationship between climate and living beings. For this reason, bioclimatic architecture studies the climatic conditions of the environment where the building is going to be constructed, taking into account a series of elements, in order to take advantage of all the available resources, generating a environmental impact. At the same time, it pretends to offer maximum comfort, while avoiding high consumption of resources. It is about being sustainable.
It is complicated to establish clear lines of action in bioclimatic architecture because it is not the same process to build a house in Lapland as in the Sahara. What we can establish is checklist of main topics that could help us to better intrgrate each house in the environment and to use the resources available in the site.
- The soil: in this case, the climatic effect of the soil can be used to cushion and delay the temperature variation that take place throughout the day. That's why it is common to see buildings based on bioclimatic architecture "melted" with the ground, taking advantage of the heat that is released and isolating the house or building by using this resource. Geothermal energy is an ideal tool to take advantage of resources, besides being renewable.
- Orientation is another factor often taken into account in bioclimatic architecture, as it affects temperature regulation in a direct way, but it also has an impact on energy consumption. Orienting the house in an appropriate way, together with the use of shading elements (typical ones, such as blinds, and less used ones, such as vegetation) will allow a much better control on how the temperature is varying throughout the day and along the year.
- Insulating materials, both thermal and acoustic, must be sustainable and respect the environment. That is why, unlike conventional buildings, this type of architecture uses external thermal insulation and materials with high thermal inertia. For this purpose, elements such as stone or brick, as well as concrete, among other materials, are used.
- Ventilation is also important in bioclimatic architecture because it helps to provide adequate thermal comfort in each room. In general, mechanical ventilation is used, so that it is possible to renew the air and obtain quality air while maintaining an optimum temperature.
We can say that these are the key elements on which bioclimatic architecture is based to offer comfort to living beings while respecting and protecting the environment, always considering the conditions of the construction area.
In Spain, we have some clear examples of bioclimatic architecture that take advantage of the resources of the area, while protecting the environment and providing comfort to all spaces.
- One of those is the Casa Bioclimática GG, designed by Alventosa Morrel studio. This house has six modules arranged to get sunlight and respect the position of the trees. Wood has been chosen for its construction, reducing condensation and energy demand.
- On the other side of Spain, in Tenerife, the first bioclimatic experimental home, is located. Oriented towards the south to take advantage of the sun's thermal energy, the house has a specific inclination to obtain this energy and includes the integration of solar panels.
But there is no need to think only in single familiy housing to find examples of bioclimatic architecture. Even in office buildings, such as 2226 by Baumschlager Eberle, you can find bioclimatic design elements, in this case with a totally passive strategy, without heating nor cooling. Its appearance does not suggest that it is a particularly sustainable building, because we tend to think that the facades must look "green" to achieve this. Nothing could be further from the truth. Technology and good design can also help us to get environmentally friendly architecture.
There are, both in Spain and in other countries, a large number of buildings that take into account bioclimatic criteria. Thanks to this, there is a clear commitment to sustainability and the reduction of environmental impact, which is good news for the planet.