Magritte—a painter who apparently loved air, who painted clouds, many clouds. But not just outside a building—Magritte’s clouds were often inside rooms, entering windows, entering fireplaces, in doorways, or even filling the room as wall decoration. Or is it the room that is decoration on the clouds? A typical Magritte paradox.
So “Magritte” is chosen here as the name for the environmental conditions we desire in a room, in a building. We can feel the air, the light, the bizarre harmony of a Magritte image. The aesthetic qualities, the geometric harmony, the allusion to comfort, which also implies comfortable and healthy air quality, light quality, sound quality, moisture conditions, etc.
In these articles we have discussed climatic regulation in terms of 9 features and their interrelationships. To structure these interrelationships we can make some abbreviations, equations and concluding remarks.
Any desired end result, the desired climatic quality in a room, the desired “Magritte” content, can be determined in terms of some combination of numerical magnitude (logos), or subjective sensory perception (pathos), or psychological freedom or ethical conscience (ethos). The final achieved indoor climatic quality is some relationship of the sum total of all the different parts.
This approach we have been allowed to call “The Hermitage Climatic Regulation Method” by the Director of The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.
The “Magritte” indoor climate quality, which we can call Qm, is therefore regarded in these articles as the sum of the following, each with a logos, pathos, and ethos element:
- The boundary conditions:
- The building envelope, the elements F (Fortochka), R (Rastrelli) and P (Palladio)
- The outer conditions:
- The micro-climate outside, the elements D (Dagmar), A (Astraeus) and M (Matisse)
- The internal conditions:
- The climatic influences inside, the elements T (Texas), I (Individuals), and C (Carrier)
- Mathematically, one could write:
- Qm = FUNCTION (F (Fortochka) + R (Rastrelli) + P (Palladio) + D (Dagmar) + A (Astraeus) + M (Matisse) + T (Texas) + I (Individuals) + C (Carrier)).
- If, as is often the case with a 20th century approach, very little attention is given to most of the first elements of this equation, the following is a typical result for a design approach to climatic regulation in a modern building:
- Modern (climatically very primitive) windows contribute perhaps 5% to the F (Fortochka) element of climatic influence. The R (Rastrelli) and P (Palladio) features are rarely used in modern buildings, and therefore have 0% influence on internal climatic conditions.
- There is also rarely any conscious use made of the climatic regulating possibilities of landscaping, plants (“biological air-conditioning”) or courtyards etc., so that the D (Dagmar) and A (Astraeus) features are also normally 0% in modern building design.
- Primitive solar shading of some form is sometimes added, so let us attribute 5% to the M (Matisse) feature.
- There is also seldom any conscious use made of the climatic regulating possibilities of local pollutant extract, so that the T (Texas) feature is low, perhaps 5%. Some individual climatic control is sometimes retained so the I (Individuals) feature can be set at 5%.
- The sum total of the first 8 parts of the climatic regulation equation contributes thus only 20%, in this example, to the total desired quality of the internal climate. Whether we allocate 10%, or 40%, is not so important, and can of course be discussed.
- But it is, in the above example, necessary for the last variable, C (Carrier), to contribute 80% to give the desired indoor climate quality Qm. This is simply a climatic analysis of the modern buildings we know. The prime climatic regulatory feature is the mechanical equipment.
- This can all be expressed for standard 20th century climatic regulation as:
- Qm20 = F (5%) + R (0%) + P (0%) + D (0%) + A (0%) + M (5%) + T (5%) + I (5%) + C (80%)
This can be shown graphically as follows:
It is possibly necessary here to make a few remarks about possible confusion between quality and quantity regarding climatic factors.
For example, a fashion of the time, made technically possible, and cheap, by scientific advances in the glass and metals industries, are buildings with walls of glass. But this confuses light quality with light quantity, and these are not often comparable. There seems to be no real reason for this building trend other than the simple reason that we now can do it. We can build transparent houses. We can also ask why.
This yearning for quantity instead of quality simply reflects civilizations development and is perfectly understandable. A hungry nation needs food—it is the quantity that counts—quite simply. But quality indicates a level of civilized development.
The French have a saying about the quantitative aspect of love, which in many ways can be defined as the major goal of humanity: “A man with 2 women loses his heart—a man with 2 homes loses his soul”.
Magritte shows air in his paintings, but it is clearly clean white air he shows. Quality air. Not quantity. The paradox is often that limiting quantity improves quality, often in an alarming synthesis of seemingly unrelated ways.
For example, putting an elegantly formed glazing bar in a window adds an element of focus and brilliance to an otherwise plain glass surface. Reflections provide light and shadow on surrounding surfaces. A curved glazing bar provides a gentle transition from brightness to shadow, reducing glare. There is less light quantity, but more light quality.
Of course the figures used in the climatic regulation equation are fictive estimates for illustrative purposes, and make no attempt to explain how, or if, one can determine some number such as 5% from some evaluation or combination of pathos content, logos content and ethos content of a window.
Or what level of climatic quality could or should be aimed at.
But relative evaluations are fairly easy to make. In October 2004 in Denmark a future-window design competition produced some ideas and prototypes for windows with higher levels of climatic regulation features, low energy loss, good daylight properties, conscious aesthetic matching, sound attenuation etc.
These dynamic multi-function types of window clearly have a higher F (Fortochka) content than a simple double-glazed modern window.
It is suggested in these papers that the very discipline of just making some attempt at structuring the analysis raises awareness of the possibilities and inter-relationships of other design approaches to climatic regulation, showing visually how much attention (or not) is given to climatic control knowledge.
Let us now conclude with a brief historical view of the changes in approach to climatic regulation.
We can use the above method, expressing any desired indoor climate condition as some function and combination of all the 9 climatic regulation elements. If one feature contributes highly, another contributes proportionately less.
Going first back in time we could for example characterize 18th century climatic regulation as being strongly weighted towards geometric and landscape features, towards the outside micro-climatic influences (Dagmar, Astraeus, Matisse).
In the 18th century there was also made elegant climatic use of the building envelope (Fortochka, Rastrelli, Palladio), although without the technological content possible today. There were limited possibilities for dealing with internal loads in a technically advanced way (Texas, Individuals, Carrier). Then again, there were not actually many internal pollutants in those times.
- We can express the “Fox” equation for 18th century climatic regulation as follows:
- Qm18 = F (5%) + R (20%) + P (15%) + D (15%) + A (25%) + M (15%) + T (0%) + I (5%) + C (0%).
This can be shown graphically as follows:
During the 19th century engineering knowledge increased, primarily in the field of machines and structures, but it was also gradually applied to the field of climatic control in buildings, primarily as an altruistic response to somewhat barbaric factory and housing conditions for workers displaced to cities from the country.
- There was a gradual shift from vernacular climatic control methods towards more mechanical control, which we can express for 19th century climatic regulation as follows:
- Qm19 = F (5%) + R (15%) + P (15%) + D (15%) + A (20%) + M (10%) + T (5%) + I (5%) + C (10%).
This can be shown graphically as follows:
Of course, it is necessary also to realize that the desired quality of the indoor climate, here called Qm, is also a variable. That is why the suffixes 18 or 20 etc. are added, to indicate the time period. Suffixes indicating geographical location and cultural or even individual aspects are also necessary for a thoroughly disciplined understanding.
Different people in different cultures at different times will determine some acceptable range of quality limits between which a building designer can find some indoor climatic goal. The point here is not so much which level is deemed necessary, although this is also a very relevant discussion, but more the question of how this level is achieved.
What actually defines “100%” is therefore not the prime question here, but how the 100% is built up of the many component parts and their relationships.
During the 20th century the emphasis shifted strongly towards the “Carrier“ feature while almost all other features degenerated, both as physically integrated features but also, more importantly, the vernacular knowledge and awareness of the climatic regulation possibilities involved also degenerated.
The change was gradual, but altered dramatically with the architectural modernistic revolution of Bauhaus et al and the resulting, perhaps unintentional, egoistic architectural morality of the 20th century. And a massive, continuing, consumption of resources by the rich people in the rich countries.
As far as climatic regulation is concerned, much of this consumption is unnecessary, driven by business greed and not by scientific need. Paradoxically, the result is often a level of indoor climatic quality which is generally lower than that possible in the 18th century.
A hypothesis of these articles is this dilemma, apparently, a paradox: if civilization, in regard to its buildings, has advanced during the 20th century, then why do we have to accept conditions that would have been unacceptable to, for example, Rastrelli, in the 18th century?
We, the world’s climatic regulation specialists, are, however, already in the 21st century, and may wish perhaps to show this in our field of work. Our contribution to civilization.
The State Hermitage Museum could become a flagship for the new methods of climatic control, the integration and extension of the genius of Rastrelli and Bernoulli (building physics in the 18th century) with the ingenious quality—not quantity—of the inventors of modern HVAC: the French engineer Bonnemain who (re-) invented central heating systems in 1777 and the American engineer Willis Carrier who invented air-conditioning in 1922.
Other, simpler, buildings could also incorporate these methods. Most importantly though, the attitude of designers could change. Students could study the possibilities.
- A hypothesis for a suitable “Fox” equation relevant for 21st century climatic regulation can therefore be described as follows:
- Qm21 = F (12%) + R (12%) + P (12%) + D (12%) + A (12%) + M (12%) + T (12%) + I (12%) + C (4%).
This can be shown graphically as follows:
It can be seen that the C (Carrier) content in the above is reduced from the level of 80% of standard 20th century modern buildings to a level of 4% in a 21st century scenario. Note that it was 0% in the 18th century and 10% in the 19th century. Note also that the balance between the elements produces synergy, so that the absolute level of climatic quality in a future 21st century scenario for advanced climatic regulation Qm21 is higher than Qm20.
It is often mistakenly assumed that such minimalism applied to mechanical climatic control devices in buildings is the same as a reduction of the comfort level, and thereafter the logic applied is the following: can we accept the slightly reduced comfort for the amount of money that will be saved? Just by asking the question in this way is completely misleading, except that it is unfortunately usually true when the underlying assumptions are those of the 20th century.
It is clear that if, in the equation for the 20th century, the C (Carrier) content is reduced from 80% without any corresponding increase in the other climatic regulation features, then the result is quite simply a lower Qm after the change. The indoor climate quality, under these basic 20th century assumptions, is directly proportional to C (Carrier) content.
- This can be expressed as follows, where the quality after the change is 20% lower, because, usually, no other components compensate for the reduction in C:
- Q1m20 = F (5%) + R (0%) + P (0%) + D (0%) + A (0%) + M (5%) + T (5%) + I (5%) + C (80%)
- Q2m20 = F (5%) + R (0%) + P (0%) + D (0%) + A (0%) + M (5%) + T (0%) + I (5%) + C (60%)
But this is not a fact of building science itself, only a fact of the way 20th century architects and engineers have lost the ability to use building components climatically, to use surrounding micro-climates, to handle specific individual needs and pollutants.
In fact, it is suggested throughout these papers that a zero C (Carrier) content is a goal, a challenge to 21st century researchers, that—if achieved—releases enormous resources. A contribution to the salvation of mankind. Or a contribution to the wealth of individuals. This is of course also a challenge to the way democracy is used, or misused.
So learn from the mistakes of the 20th century. Throw out the continued teaching of 20th century mistakes. For the 21st century, I suggest here that disciplined analysis of the climatic regulation effect—and possibilities—of other building elements or features has considerable advantages. To the purely logos numerically determined factors, to the subjective pathos elements, and also to ethos, through the application of a “Lomborgist“ economic approach to economic growth.
More correctly defined in terms of the “ethos” question “which type or quality of economic growth do we want?” For example, growth in (necessary) child vaccine production facilities or growth in a (superfluous) air filters industry?
Therefore it is perhaps important to start with an analysis of the reasoning for the existence and magnitude of such superfluous climatic control elements as, for example, disposable filters, consuming 6 billion $ each year. Choose instead air-filtering windows and child vaccination, for example, instead of disposable filters.
Or we could just start with a renaissance of the Architect’s responsibility for climatic conditions in a building. The “Rastrelli” mentality instead of the “Corbusier” attitude.
And a redefinition of the Engineer’s role as an ingenious assistant contributor to an architect’s efforts to design preventative climatic regulation. A “new” humble mentality instead of the “Brunel” authorative, dominant, attitude.
This is perhaps the significant difference between the “Hermitage” climatic regulation approach and traditional 20th century design methods.Sergio Fox