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TitleArchitecture - Comfort and Energy
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Table of Contents
                            Front Cover
Copyright Page
Chapter 1. Thermal comfort and the development of bioclimatic concept in building design
Chapter 2. Vernacular and contemporary buildings in Qatar
Chapter 3. Principles of thermal comfort
Chapter 4. Bioclimatism in vernacular architecture
Chapter 5. The utilization of microclimate elements
Chapter 6. Daylighting
Chapter 7. Ventilation
Chapter 8. Technology for modern architecture
Document Text Contents
Page 2


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C. G alio I Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 2 (1998) 89-114 113

5. Open public spaces

5.1. Vegetation

Vegetation around a building is important: this means choosing a site rich in
greenery or else creating vegetation where there was none. The role of the micro-
climate, and of its possible breezes and currents is fundamental in determining the
conditions for well being in a built environment. Besides creating shade, vegetation
transpires water and thus provokes natural cooHng through evaporation. A recently
pubHshed review [11] quotes reductions of temperature through evaporation of 2 -
3°C. It seems well demonstrated that joint evaporation and transpiration of a single
tree can save from 1-24 MJ of electricity in terms of air conditioning per year; a lawn
can cool a sunny lot by 6-8°C, while the evaporation of a hectare of grass corresponds
to more than 125 MJ per day.

In one of its works [12], the Rocky Mountain Institute compares the reduction of
the thermal load due to vegetation in three cities: Sacramento (34%), Phoenix (18%,
dry chmate), Los Angeles (44%). This data seems to indicate that vegetation works
more effectively in a damp climate, where it can, however, lead to a rise of humidity.

In dry climates vegetation can influence the dry bulb temperature. In the many
bioclimatic systems realised in BiocHmatic Rotunda in Sevilla Expo '92 by Spanish
architects, very effective coolers in a hot and dry climate, the vegetation is essential:
in the plan the proportion between green and buildings is 60/40. The vegetation
refreshing effect consists of temperature mitigation, solar radiation's reduction, rela-
tive humidity increasing, wind mitigation and direction (regulation). The main differ-
ence between refreshing effects from vegetation and from structures built by man
is that an inorganic material has a Hmited refreshing capacity, based on thermal
characteristics of the materials; a plant on the contrary is a Hving organism that will
regulate its branches and leaves to utiHse most of the solar radiation.

In Sevilla, other key-concepts of passive cooUng are utiHsed. Besides the ventilation,
the utilisation of earth mass, there are water jets, fountains, water films and water
floors: water runs beneath pavements made of porous material that allows water to
evaporate. Micronizers increase the evaporation during the hottest period, and run-
ning water and cold air coming from underground pipes give their contribution to
thermal well-being.

Running water, together with a cold air current, is the cooHng system that was
UtiHsed in the Maharaja Palace of Amber, near Jaipur, built in the 16th century: a
room with one side entirely open towards the courtyard is cooled by a waterway
crossing it, bounded by two stone sides which are pierced to admit air.

6. Shading devices

In Bioclimatic Rotunda in Sevilla Expo, a focal point is the generation of shadows
on pubHc spaces: but it is important that these sun protective systems are movable

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114 C. G alio I Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 2 (1998) 89-114

and they can be removed during the night to make possible the heat dissipation by
long wave-length radiation to the sky.

The same system is utilised for example in the open space of oriental mosques: the
big tent for solar protection during the day are removed at the evening. In the Holy
Mosque of Medina, twelve umbrellas with a diagonal span of 24 m, installed in groups
of six, immediately answered any doubts one might have had as to the possibiHty of
solving the climatic problem of Middle-Eastern historic buildings without incurring
a heavy environmental impact. The twelve shading mechanisms are the invention of
the Bodo Rasch Jr, the natural successor of Frei Otto, inventor of the tensile structure,
as a technologically advanced Hghtweight system of coverage. The extension and
retraction of the membranes is regulated by a computerized system in which local
climatic data have been recorded in conjunction with the spatial configuration of the
Mosque and its courtyards, so that efficient functioning is guaranteed in all atmo-
spheric conditions. Generally speaking, the principle adopted prescribes opening the
membrane cover during the day in summer as protection from the strong sunlight
that raises the temperature to 45°C in the shade, while its closure at night permits the
evacuation of heat absorbed during the day by the thick walls. In winter, the procedure
is reversed, so that the umbrellas are closed during the day, allowing the mild sun to
warm the marble paving and walls, whose thermal inertia is preserved at night by
opening up the membrane to prevent extreme cooHng. Lastly, the convertible struc-
tures are equipped with a windspeed monitor which automatically prevents opening
and closing operations when speeds exceed 36 km/h. Each umbrella has four lamps
integrated into the claddings above the column capital to illuminate the courts at
night, and air outlets located in the base and capital of the lower column which are
linked to the building's air-conditioning system.


[1] Ph. Foster-Raphael on the Villa Madama: the test of a last letter ('Sonderheft aus dem Romischem
Jahrbuch fur Kunstgeschichte', XI, 1967-68).

[2] Fathy Hassan. Natural Energy and Vernacular Architecture. Chicago, 1986.
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M. Sala I Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 2 (1998) 189-234 233

The broad covering structure, in which the various office spaces are to be found,
contains a piazza internally, which has been conceived and designed not as a cir-
cumscribed entity, but in an interchanging relationship with the surrounding buildings
and destined to constitute a focal point for recreational and cultural activities, in the
sphere of a more broad design for the urban requalification of an area of the city of
London. The reaUsation of this objective has been formaHsed in a prefabricated load-
bearing structure of reinforced concrete which in the upper part houses flowers and
timber pergolas and in the lower part contains routes and relaxation points. The
theatrical image of the pergola and other ramping levels contribute to the creation of
small terraces on the structure of a green oasis, evoking memories of an amphitheatre
which descends with terraced seating at the lower levels of the piazza where the shops
and services are concentrated to feed the metropolis.

8.2. El Palenque, Exhibition Structure, Expo 1992, Seville, Spain {J. M. De La Prada

El Palenque is a large space covered by a tensile sail structure, which has housed
numerous performances/exhibitions and cultural entertainment during the course of
the Expo at Seville. The lower part of the area was comprised of two connected
piazzas, with clearly differentiated characteristics. The first elevated on its pHnth of
about one metre, bordering the second by three sides forming a belt of seperation
between it and the pedestrian avenues. It is treated as a shaded and fresh area protected
from the surrounding context by four barriers; two of vegetation and two of water
nebulisers and fountains. The second piazza, to the interior of the former, constitutes
the performance space proper. Its general organisation and disposition of the veg-
etation areas at the front attempts to recreate the idea of a roman theatre. For
complete shielding against the suns rays large roofs and sails in PVC have been
utiUsed, positioned with tensile structure systems above metal openwork. The form
of the tense membrane itself suggested locating hot air extractors, similar to gigantic
upturned funnels, on top of the structure together with water nebulizers so as to
create evaporative towers that are able to lower the temperature of the air close to
the ground. To control the external overheating of the membrane, an evaporative
cooling method has been used with a continuous irrigation produced by mic-
roperforated on the surface facing the sun.


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