MTS 01 - 22 - 2010

Theory Even though sustainability through design has become a topic in architecture that seems like it has been discussed so many times that there cannot possibly be anything new, during our travels, we have discovered additional examples of these principles. One of these discoveries was Barcelona’s Casa Batlló, designed by Antonio Gaudí; this private residence had an extremely simple, yet effective, system for natural ventilation. Two atria, which flank either side of the central stair case, serve as two cleverly-disguised thermal chimneys, as illustrated in the diagram. On every floor, the spaces that are adjacent to these chimneys have windows that look directly down into the atria, and beneath these windows are operable vents. Each of these vents (a total of six per floor) fed into each atria, following the simple principle that hot air rises. Along the upper level of the Casa Batlló, the atria are flanked on two sides by arcades created by a series of overhead arches. One side is formed by four vents, while the other has square windows. However, these, too serve a functional purpose: as the hot air rises from the lower levels, it exits through the vents in the arches and finally exits the structure altogether through the windows that lead outside. Sure, this form of passive ventilation might be common, but what makes the Casa Batlló exceptional is its seamless fusion of passive design into the architecture. The vents, constructed of the same detail wood in the rest of the house, merely appear to be further ornamentation, rather than a vital element in the building’s functionality. The arches along the upper level serve multiple purposes: they ventilate the building, while providing aesthetically-pleasing walkways between rooms. In every project, designers should consider the multi-functionality of different components. It is more than possible to merge passive design principles with aesthetic design in such a way that each enhances the other.

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