The cities and their buildings are, by definition, the habitat of the human being. In this condition, it is essential that such spaces be designed in order to enable comfort and quality of life in a responsible manner, committed to sustainability, to the economy of energy resources, and, to the harmonious coexistence between man and the environment.
We integrate the concept of sustainability in our projects through the bioclimatic architecture approach, which relates the conditions of performance and comfort in interior spaces to the local context, its climate, the environment and available resources. Sustainability is achieved through the proper management of these factors, supported by committed work and technical expertise.
With this concern, Estúdio ARKIZ has been seeking to expand the field of sustainability through the use of computer simulations, which allow us to assess the environmental conditions of the spaces we design, such as insolation, thermal loads, natural lighting and ventilation. This effort allows us to achieve efficient performance while ensuring, at the same time, human comfort as well as economy of energy and materials.
The principles of bioclimatic architecture are based on the understanding of the determinants of comfort conditions imposed by the local climate, particularly the relationship between temperature range and humidity, incident solar radiation and the intensity of prevailing winds.
These factors must be addressed to ensure that buildings are able to dynamically respond to changes in climate, providing the best possible conditions of comfort to occupants.
Internal heating potentially caused by solar radiation can pose a major threat to the thermal comfort and energy efficiency of a building. For this reason, special attention should be given to strategies for solar protection.
Solar protection involves a broad range of strategies, from simple actions such as the correct orientation of the façades and openings in relation to the sun, to more complex solutions that involve the adoption of shading and protection elements such as louvers, screens and high performance glazing.
To ascertain the actual protective effect of these architectural elements, we adopt design methods that involve comparative electronic simulations of incident solar radiation over the façades, in order to identify the most efficient and cost-effective solutions for each case.
Natural lighting is an important strategy for reducing energy consumption in buildings, because it reduces the need for artificial illumination during the day. However, exposure to sunlight can, in the other hand, cause problems such as overheating or obfuscation of the occupants in case available light is excessive.
For these reasons, it is important to assess the lighting levels that would be effectively enjoyed in the interior spaces of buildings. This is possible through computer simulations that evaluate the ‘daylight factor’ incident in each space, as well as the correct specification of ‘illuminance indexes’ of the materials used in the project.
Natural ventilation is an important strategy for passive cooling of the internal environments of a building. The air exchange with the outside allows the dissipation of accumulated heat, and provides greater comfort to the user by convective cooling - in other words, the possibility to enjoy the pleasant feeling of a gentle breeze on a hot day.
A well designed building, from the standpoint of natural ventilation, should employ efficiently the incidence prevailing winds, taking advantage of opportunities to promote cross ventilation and ‘chimney effect’ in interior vertical voids.
The effectiveness and correct dimensioning of these solutions can be verified through electronic CFD simulations – ‘computer fluid dynamics’, which can show in detail the intensity and direction of the flow of air through buildings.
The large roof areas of buildings can act as collectors of rainwater, which can be stored in underground cisterns. This stored water, besides reducing the burden over urban drainage systems (and consequently, helping to avoid urban floods) - can be reused for the irrigation of gardens, cleaning, or even for toilet discharge through redistribution systems. This, in turn, also decreases the demand for treated water through the recycling of available natural resources.
Moreover, the energy efficiency of a building can be enhanced through the adoption of solar collectors installed over the roof, which take advantage of solar radiation to heat water that used in kitchens and bathrooms, significantly reducing the consumption of gas and electricity for water heating.
The main purpose of sustainable design strategies is to provide optimal environmental conditions of thermal comfort to occupants, with the lowest possible consumption of energy resources.
To achieve this goal, it is necessary to assess properly what are the desired comfort conditions in terms of temperature, humidity, light, among other factors, and which are the means that can be offered by architecture to provide such conditions.
An integrated approach to environmental comfort allows the combination of different design strategies, identifying synergies in order to improve overall performance of buildings.