Subscribe to our list »
Connect with us on Social Media
trueHUE® Water cooler stories
“Architects are no longer thinking about the environments in their buildings — the air-conditioning engineer does that.”
Those who cannot afford AC are set to suffer the most, and those who can are aggravating the problem. The IEA predicts that energy demand for space cooling could more than triple by 2050, if no action is taken. Yet, Short says, “it is absolutely possible to make comfortable buildings in hot climates with little carbon consequence [but] architects generally pursue badly outdated, late-modern models”.
The glass tower is the most extreme expression of a house “open to the outside”, and most vulnerable to the sun’s rays. The now ubiquitous style took root in the US just after the second world war, with the construction of entirely glass buildings with steel frames. Structures from the 1950s, such as Lever House in New York, were then reproduced around the world regardless of climate, a shiny iteration of the modernist aesthetic known as the International Style. “The idea was to make identical looking buildings for everywhere in the world, and the idea of air conditioning is that you would make every interior the same: cool,” says Short.
The city of Dubai is now known for its glass skyscrapers and air-conditioned malls but it used to stay cool using wind towers — square turrets on the top of a building that would channel air inside via openings on all four sides.
In Kenitra, western Morocco, a new train station by Silvio d’Ascia Architecture and Omar Kobbité Architectes is cloaked with a mashrabiya lattice — an element of Islamic architecture that reduces temperatures by creating shade and natural air ventilation. “The objective was to reduce air conditioning as much as possible [and] give the building an identity that recalls traditional architecture,” says architect Omar Kobbité.