“To know its environment is to understand an architecture”.
Encapsulated in this succinct quotation is the driving force behind my Churchill Fellowship research. Years of study and practice have taught me that first and foremost, Architecture must be suited to its environment, just as much as it must be suited to its cultural, technological and economic context. So I set out to discover what I call an Architecture of resilience, where the prevailing climate has been accommodated thru a number of generations, and where severe weather events are a normal occurrence, not just a novelty of climate change.
I chose places that have very long histories of permanent settlements, where Architecture has had the possibility to develop subtle and sophisticated strategies from generation to generation to modulate the climate. I am aware that Architecture is not just the result of response to climate, yet in places where the climate is severe, this is the most important role that must be acknowledged.
The locations of my study are regularly visited by monsoons, typhoons and large seasonal variations. They are also located between the latitudes of 20 to 40, thus sharing climatic conditions with most of coastal Australia. The focus of this research fellowship has been to look for lessons in the vernacular that can be applied to contemporary works of architecture, thus making our built environment better prepared to cope with changing climate patterns. Regardless of the causes of climate change, there is documented evidence that weather events are becoming more severe. At the same time there is a growing need to move away from an overdependence on energy consuming climate modulating systems such as air-conditioning and active heating. Therefore, it is of outmost importance to look for passive design strategies which can accommodate severe weather events while still providing solutions for human comfort.
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