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About this book

This book explores the bioclimatic approach to building design. Constant innovations in the field are evident, including the need to face climate changes and increase the local resilience at different scales (regional, urban, architectural). Differently from other contributions, this book provides a definition of the bioclimatic design approach following a technological and performance-driven vision. It includes one of the largest collection of research voices on the topic, becoming also a critical reference work for bioclimatic theory. It is intended for architects, engineers, researchers, and technicians who have professional and research interests in bioclimatic and in sustainable and technological design issues.

Table of Contents


Environmental and Technological Design Framework


Chapter 1. Design with Climate: An Unconventional Introduction

This chapter roughly describes an unconventional introduction to bioclimatic backgrounds aimed at tackling some of the major challenges of urban and architectural design with a multi-hybridised approach. As remembered by prof. Pearlmutter in the book preface and demonstrated by prof. Grosso in his key chapter, bioclimatic design is still an urgency. It needs to become part of our common way of thinking of architectural and urban design, as the matter of sustainability and climate issues become increasingly important in relation to current and future human space-living needs. The focus here is on the anthropogenic background, touching on climate change and massive urbanisation, trying to suggest potential visual and cultural connections for bioclimatic design. Furthermore, a reflection on how to localise the aspects of environmental and bioclimatic design research in the approach to technological design is introduced early on.
Giacomo Chiesa

Chapter 2. Keynote Chapter—Bioclimatic Design in Architecture: A Research and Didactic Experience

This essay intends to outline a synthetic excursus on my research, didactical and consultancy experience in the field of bioclimatic design for architecture. The aim is to highlight the milestones of my academic and professional career with regard to interrelationships between the bioclimatic approach and the design process in building design as well as landscape and urban design.
Mario Grosso

Chapter 3. Technological Concept in the Culture of Sustainable Architectural Design

Research on bioclimatic architecture has been one of the first significant contributions of architectural technology disciplines in the more general framework of the design/environment relationship. Technology disciplines have often been characterized by their ability to anticipate the main changes that were looming on the horizon; changes whose impact on the training and planning processes of the anthropized environment are still proving to be of crucial interest, with particular reference to the training of new skills capable of creating a link between the knowledge of scientific/technical research and the field of choices belonging to the design domain. This contribution intends to draw a picture that outlines the character and role of technological research (of which bioclimatic architecture is a part ) in relation to the culture of design. It is not a question of facing a complete chronological excursus, but of focusing on the environmental theme “for architects” through some application examples.
Rossana Raiteri, Fausto Novi

Chapter 4. Bioclimatic Approaches and Environmental Design. Strategies, Criteria and Requirements for an Evolution of Experimentations

Bioclimatic Approach to the project and Environmental Design are some of the potential factors involved in a possible, concrete change in trend, at the height of an epochal critical period in which the number of people living in cities exceeds the number of people living in the country; available water is constantly diminishing; most of world energy needs are still met through non-renewable sources; those resources are available for a few more years or decades at the most; the use of those sources implies real climate and environmental disasters such as first of all, the scientifically ascertained global warming process; the health of all living bodies is harmed to a greater and greater extent; the earth, water and air of this progressively impoverished little Planet are increasingly polluted. This paper investigates which logical-cognitive steps are required to bear in mind to set a proper changing action, more and more often meant to answer climatic emergency situations and taking into consideration the limits of resources; which objectives and criteria it is convenient to pursue or adopt in order to direct process, project and product choices in an environmentally and bioclimatically aware; which is the ideal framework of reference requirements which a changing action—though meant for basic environmental preservation and protection—should always respect and bear in mind.
Fabrizio Tucci

Chapter 5. Present and Future Challenges and Opportunities in the Built Environment

The present chapter aims to present and discuss the main challenges and opportunities in the Built Environment. The document analyses issues related to the impact of global and local climate change on the built environment, the challenges associated to the expected increase of the world population, social and technological issues related to energy poverty and future energy consumption. It also presents and discusses the major environmental problems in our cities and the expected energy and social problems related to the rapid urbanisation. The actual state of the art of the energy and environmental technologies for buildings and cities is presented. Futures priorities and ideas on the way to translate the current challenges into future opportunities are presented.
Mat Santamouris

Roots and Evolution


Chapter 6. Origin and Evolution of the Bioclimatic Approach to Architecture

This essay intends to outline a synthetic excursus on the origin and development of the approach relating architecture to climate in the works of researchers and architects, as an extensive interpretation of what is called in this book bioclimatic architecture.
Mario Grosso

Chapter 7. The Urban-Rural Continuum. The Bioclimatic Approach to Design, Between Past and Future

The rural built environment, as a multiscale whole of human transformations aimed at accommodating agriculture-related activities, prompts various reflections on the bioclimatic approach in architectural design. This contribution, firstly, highlights the theme of the urban-rural continuum (an intermediate and contradictory place, which epitomizes on-going contemporary transformations) in order to demonstrate that the contrast between urban and rural—although it has been used, since ancient times, on both analytical and design level—has not only been superseded, but is also, theoretically, inadequate for identifying the rural built environment. The link between agricultural and construction activities confirms the overcoming of this contrast; a reading in technological terms is proposed, with reference to the spheres of the product and the process, whilst recollecting its remote and deeply rooted cultural origins. The possible dual and contradictory character (vernacular or scholarly) of the rural built environment is illustrated with reference to the specificity of the bioclimatic aspects recognized in traditional buildings (“ante litteram sustainability”), highlighting how the relationship with the site-factor (microclimatic characteristics and local construction culture) was almost annulled in the twentieth century, also creating the basis for a widespread emergency for the quality of the buildings employed in agricultural activities. Touching upon the question of whether the rural building can be a typology distinct from other production buildings, this paper highlights the importance of the relationships with the socio-economic aspects of the agricultural sector, underlining the fact that the main identity for rural buildings in every age, in addition to the role that they play in the landscape, should be a stronger bond with the environmental elements, showing the centrality of the bioclimatic approach in updating the primordial interactions between agriculture and construction. Furthermore, the distinction between vernacular or scholarly character of the rural buildings prompted a reflection on the contemporary epistemological bases of the bioclimatic approach to general architectural design, which risks being ineffective whether it remains on an empirical level or if it is confined to a hyper-specialized niche. Finally, the bioclimatic approach is indicated as a common analytical and design methodological basis, useful for addressing the contradictory nature of the urban-rural continuum, in the framework of contemporary challenges.
Maria Luisa Germanà

Chapter 8. Pulsations in Technology Innovation

I’m honoured and pleased by the invitation to narrate firsthand some of my design experiments in “bioarchitecture”, a field I have been involved in since my post-graduate experiences until today with in-depth studies. Definitely, this article gives me an opportunity to revisit my past and recent works and share them with young researchers or any professionals willing to know more about the approaches pursued by the scholars of the Schools of Architecture in Italy in the past and still underway. I’m honoured by the opportunity of comparing my views against others’ on the vision of the architecture project in order to provide fresh inputs. I’m pleased because it gives me the opportunity to make my work known with the expectation that the conditions to build synergies and make either a practical or theoretical contribution to the community I live in, will be accomplished. In particular, research topics are outlined on building typologies, processes, construction and environmental systems with prime focus on the design of a human living environment and new solutions to counteract the urban and landscape decay compatibly with available resources.
Michela Toni

Chapter 9. Bioclimatic Design and Environmental Impact

The paper focuses on the relationship between bioclimatic design and environmental impact in the evolution of what is called a “solar city”. Since the ultimate goal of a sustainable project should be to reduce the overall environmental impact, it is appropriate to reflect on the relationship between building and site, considering that, from the settlement point of view, it cannot be said that many of the most famous interventions, from the 80s to today, are to be considered successful.
Adriano Magliocco

Environmental Building Design Concepts and Methods


Chapter 10. Climate, Place, Ecology

During the last century there has been an accelerated transformation in architectural studies and practices, which brought about structural and technological innovation. But the contradictions of this design approach are obvious. Environmental emergencies and energy problems are, therefore, the urgencies to be faced in the field of architectural design for a responsible approach to the sustainability of the sector. To overcome the current crisis (both economic and environmental) we need to review the cultural model of development and, particularly, of living. We need to be aware of the natural limits of growth and rethink the territory and the exploitation of local resources (tangible and intangible). The goal is the innovation of the model according to the parameters of ecology.
Maria Cristina Forlani

Chapter 11. The Ecological Culture of the Project: A Critical Vision

The last decades witnessed an unexpected spread of the concept of sustainability. This phenomenon has also involved the urban and architectural design field for its obvious and known environmental impact. This cultural process, undoubtedly positive, is leaving a trace in our time more than others. It is leading to a growing awareness of the environmental problem, to an ever-wider diffusion of new design approaches and new technologies and to a significant reduction in energy consumption and polluting emissions. However, this same cultural process has exponentially accelerated over the last decades, partly because of emergency circumstances, causing an extreme simplification of its content and a subsequent rise in false beliefs. An example is the belief that the direction towards environmental culture is going is unambiguous and commonly shared. The following essay is a reflection on this false belief and its possible consequences.
Andrea Giachetta, Maria Canepa

Chapter 12. Interaction Between Anthropic and Natural Phenomena in Urban Contexts Re-equilibration

The protection of the urban contexts from the increasing anthropization development necessarily requires the adoption of appropriate and adequate strategies for the environmental re-balancing that are crucial especially when the environmental components: water, air and soil have been compromised by previous anthropic activities. Achieving a renewed quality of the environmental components is the necessary prerequisite for reuse and reconfiguration interventions. With such premises this paper focuses on the application of natural resources in the re-balancing interventions highlighting the significant environmental benefits arising from the use of principles of nature as a management model. All this in order to define the possible interferences between the natural and anthropic aspects that underlie the sustainability of urbanization and intervene on urban development with appropriate approach in order to find an alternative to the model that was previously used.
Rossella Franchino

Chapter 13. Advanced Sustainable Design (ASD) for Resilient Scenarios

In the era of “rampant post-production”, a time that could be seen as “the fastest technological revolution in history”, defining a new paradigm with radical and advanced connotations means taking even more responsibility to nurture that required disruptive visionary shift; especially in the areas where different aspects of living resist this said change.
Consuelo Nava

Chapter 14. Building’s Operational Versus Embodied Energy: Needs and Barriers for a More Reliable Environmental Impact Balance

To comply with EU directives, which require new buildings to be nZEB by 2021 (2010/31/EC) and all buildings to be nZEB by 2050 (2018/844/EC), the construction industry has mainly focused on the containment of energy consumption during use, but scientific literature highlights that techniques employed to achieve higher operational energy efficiency lead to an increase of embodied energy, embodied carbon and other environmental impacts, especially those related to the manufacturing of building materials. The more stringent energy standards have thus reduced the impacts of the building operational phase, but  raising those relating to materials and components which are required to allow the buildings achieving these benefits. Several evidences of this trend are provided by applying the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): although that method is not currently addressed by the EPBD, the key role that the embedded impacts play on the building environmental balance is confirmed. Though a precise calculation of embedded impacts is difficult to perform, due to the many factors involved, the estimation of their share compared to the operating impacts is crucial to determine an effective building energy and environmental balance. Moving toward this target, the Sustainable Building Rating Systems (SBRS) are progressively integrating LCA-based criteria within their protocols. This should provide a simplified and standardized approach thus helping their application in building sector, as preconized by the literature. However, several discrepancies among  the different  SBSRs in use worldwide emerge in both method’s application and interpretation.
Ernesto Antonini

Urban Environmental Design


Chapter 15. Bioclimatic Architecture and Urban Morphology. Studies on Intermediate Urban Open Spaces

The contribution follows the European guidelines for the adaptation of the built environment to climate change, illustrated at the COP21 (2015) and collected in the European Climate Adaptation Platform. The text concerns requalification process of the urban open spaces by connecting social and technological features characterizing the urban realm and the related environmental-climatic performance. Through an in-depth study of materials and possible combinations of innovative materials, urban vegetation, water elements and urban shades, the current knowledge of the complex issue of outdoor comfort and urban microclimate is being extended to provide innovative social and functional solutions. The paper comprises the relationship between energy use and urban morphology, studies on intermediate urban open spaces, on environmental and bioclimatic comfort, the interactions between biophysical and microclimatic factors, ultimately the tests of innovative technologies.
Alessandra Battisti

Chapter 16. Environmental Design Challenges for Multi-beneficial Urban Open Spaces

Pluvial flooding is an increasing plague among the current urban problems. Green streets reconvert urban public connection space for multi-benefit uses such as preventing flooding, improving air and rainwater quality, increasing clean water infiltrated into groundwater, reducing the effects of urban heat island, providing open spaces, recreational habitats and green pedestrian links. An interscalar research project applies good practices of sustainable rainwater road management through nature-based solutions on an axis of strategic connection in the Terra di Lavoro plain (Campania, Southern Italy), offering original technical protocols. Main points of reflection are the central role of local public governments as drivers of integrated projects, the interdisciplinary vision and the meaning value of the interconnected green stormwater infrastructures (GSI) network.
Renata Valente

Chapter 17. Radiative Exchanges in the Dense City

A central question for urban sustainability is how to build cities that minimize, at the same time, the use of land and energy consumption. Future cities should be as dense as possible to meet the first requirement. However, the energy performance of dense urban areas is still under debate due to the lack of sound arguments. Since the origins of urbanism in the XIXth century, urban planners have incorporated energy considerations into their designs in a qualitative way. Nowadays, the discipline of Urban Physics is a well-established field able to provide them also with quantitative energy information to aid decision-making. This chapter explores how the current energy simulation capabilities, particularly the Finite Elements Methods, can contribute to a systemic study of energy exchanges in dense urban environments. We focus on radiative energy exchanges, which are especially challenging in dense urban morphologies. Finally, we discuss how the feedback between urban thermography and simulations can improve our understanding of the thermal behaviour of real urban environments.
Elena Garcia-Nevado, Benoit Beckers

Chapter 18. Urban Materials for Microclimatic Adaptation. Examples on Water Use for Cooling and Run-off Limitation

The paper focuses on the element that has a double face in the context of climatic adaptation, the first with respect to the reduction of overheating and urban heat island, the second because it required to be managed in some moments of the year, in particular when heavy rainfalls reach the urban areas. We talk about water, in its various forms and configurations.
Valentina Dessì

Passive Climate Control Strategies and Technologies


Chapter 19. Passive Means to Improve the Indoor Thermal Comfort

The building should be designed and constructed first to bring a good indoor environment to its occupants. This chapter addresses thermal comfort and passive means to improve ensure it. These are thermal insulation and inertia, solar collecting area and their solar protections, natural ventilation and combinations of them allowing passive solar heating and passive ventilation cooling. Passive (or constructive) means should be preferred, since they are often cheaper than active or technological ones, and use only energy from the environment. Active ways should then be used only for compensating the insufficiencies of passive ones. 
Claude-Alain Roulet

Chapter 20. Geo-Climatic Indicators to Define Local Potential of Low-Energy Technologies Including Climate Changes

This chapter deals with a geo-climatic approach to low-energy technologies in climate change scenarios. Different key performance indicators (KPI) which are able to predict the geo-climatic potential distribution of bioclimatic solutions in reducing expected energy needs while guaranteeing space comfort in buildings (e.g. wind-driven, controlled natural ventilation for passive cooling of spaces) are described. This approach is further expanded to define the resilience of the above mentioned techniques in absorbing climate change impact on cooling and heating needs. The main objective of the chapter is to describe a methodological approach and introduce the aims of the geo-climatic vision. Three bioclimatic technologies based on low-energy/passive cooling (direct evaporative cooling, earth-to-air heat exchangers, wind-driven ventilation) and one low-energy/passive heating (earth-to-air heat exchangers), are taken as references. The calculation results of the local potential of these technologies based on related KPIs are described for the entire Italian peninsula, assuming both current typical meteorological years and two future climate change scenarios.
Giacomo Chiesa

Chapter 21. Greening the Building Envelope

Four out of five European citizens live in urban areas and their quality of live is influenced by the environmental conditions. Greening the building envelope provides important ecosystem services, improves microclimatic conditions and reduces the energy demand for air conditioning. The chapter presents research results aimed at identifying benefits and challenges of vertical greening systems. In order to evaluate if alternative low-cost and low-maintenance vertical greening systems can be developed, the case of mosses is presented.
Katia Perini

Chapter 22. Shading Architectures—Bioclimatic Approach to “Well Tempered” Civic Spaces

In relation to the growing impact of urban heat island, thermal wellbeing in outdoor spaces becomes a relatively new environmental problem architectural designers have to take in charge. Bioclimatic approach to architecture can give a substantial contribution to achieve liveable conditions in outdoor spaces as well as to maintain multi sensorial comfort conditions, sustain natural rhythms, and stimulate human senses. Adaptive approach to thermal comfort in inner spaces—recently adopted by UE—is opening the road to more sensitive comfort approaches also for outdoor spaces. Green structures contribute to mitigate urban microclimates through a multi scale “climate control strategies”: shading, air temperature reduction, setting off and canalising cold breezes. Architects have now a responsibility to develop bioclimatic-based design to promote mutual support among natural and social communities of living beings as a tool for co-existence and progress. A toolbox can supply architects a basic knowledge on green systems morphology and metabolism in order to develop sensibility and bioclimatic design capability by shaping accordingly the green/built environment since the preliminary design phases. Basic knowledge of such a toolbox are: bioclimatic urban and building design tools; morphology, metabolism and sociology of green systems; building physics; principles of urban climatology; sensorial experiences, and evaluation of comfort conditions in outdoor spaces.
Giovanni Scudo

Technological Representation and Digital Innovation


Chapter 23. Energy and Digital Scenarios. Is the European Buildings Future Smart?

Two apparently distinct scenarios have an effect on the architecture, engineering and construction industry: the energy and the digital transitions. Technology evolves at a never before seen pace, transforming the ways we visualise and understand the world, and providing new tools for designing and building architecture. This paper explores the impact renewable energy and digital technologies are having on the construction industry and the new possibilities they offer.
Chiara Tonelli

Chapter 24. The Green Design Approach Digital Innovation Facility: BIM and New Industrial Processes

The chapter relates bioclimatic with the development of digital design in the field of Design Science, recalling some salient points of the origins and development of the concepts of bioclimatic from its origin in the search for alternative energy sources for space missions over the 1960s. From the studies in this field have resulted in new calculation methods and energy and characteristics physical environment assessment. Energy research developed in parallel with distributed computational capabilities and the software that allowed them to automate not only the calculations but also parametric simulations. A chronological summary of this evolution is illustrated with references to the main modeling and energy simulation software. Some experimental projects developed over the last 20 years are presented, demonstrating the state of the art of Green Design with evidence relating to the actual performance in use conditions. In advanced areas such as the development of tertiary buildings and terminals, the three areas of sustainability are combined to obtain more sustainable projects not only on an environmental basis but also on economic and social ones. The phenomena are driven by market and management needs; it is evidenced by the increase in standards and life cycle certifications aimed not only at products but also at the overall management of the project and activities over the life cycle. With the evolution of CAD towards BIM platforms since the second half of the 1950s, the possibility of creating interoperable platforms useful for various purposes has opened up: in a first phase, it was possible to import data processed by specialized software and subsequently to integrate them into the field of modeling. With the perspectives opened by platforms on the web, a new way of designing and producing is started, fully compatible with the digital environment. Introducing these types of innovation that enable the full digitalization of processes appears to be the most plausible operating scenario for Green Design as it allows the connection and implementation of lean and efficient management of the project-production chain in all phases of the cycle of life and in perspective to create new project areas aimed at the digital construction of buildings directly from the digital model (Digital Twin).
Maria Antonietta Esposito, Filippo Bosi

Chapter 25. Simplified Methods and Tools for the Representation of Energy in the Project of Architecture

Designing is the attempt to see beyond. It is an attempt to take under control the quality of a space and to make it appropriate for humans. It should be, but several times moving around famous buildings we have the perception that in many cases the visual quality was the main element considered by architects in the design, but—at the same time—the missing control of “other” qualities in the building was clear and the result was an unbalanced feeling of nice and unpleasant that is difficult to decode and understand.
Alessandro Rogora

Chapter 26. Kinetic Adaptive Façades. A Systematic Review of Technological and Adaptive Features

Kinetic envelopes can be defined as technological solutions which are able to move, open and close themselves, increasing the reactive capacity to incident solar radiation or other forms of environmental energy stresses, typical of a traditional facade system. Starting from this definition the chapter will provide a systematic review of these innovative technological solutions and their performance features, with a focus on materials, sensors and mechanical devices that is possible using to guarantee microclimatic control based on the dynamic interaction between the external and internal environments, achieving the target nZEB.
Rosa Romano
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