August 14, 2014

Skin + Climate


The more we can understand atmosphere and weather – its patterns, its extremes, its predictable behaviors alongside its sudden surprises – the better equipped we will be to design architecture that is not only inspiring and effective, but beautifully harmonious. While considering Skin + Climate, we reframe the architect as meteorologist.

A building exists in a constant, active, and direct relationship with climate. The envelope, or architectural skin, provides shelter against the elements, but not as division between interior space and exterior experience. Instead, the skin is the interface through which interior and exterior climates communicate. It is the surface across which thermal energy, natural and artificial light, noise, and activity are transmitted, blocked, or absorbed. In this way, it becomes the first and most effective tool for the control of energy and the regulation of thermal comfort.

The building envelope also holds the potential to become many other things once imagination and design thinking are applied. It can act as a sponge, filter, and evapo-transmitter, much like the skin of our own bodies.  Building skins can be utilized to generate energy, grow food, and sequester carbon.

In exploring Skin + Climate, we will delve into questions like:
+ What does it mean for a building envelope to act as living skin?
+ How does design change when the envelope must solve the comfort equation without a mechanical system?
+ How can we maximize the intelligence of the building envelope in order to create buildings that are regenerative?