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Architecture for Hot Climates

Historically, there have been many ways in which dwellings have been built and designed in order to withstand the climate of that particular area. There has always been a need for buildings in hot countries to be cool when the weather is warm and warm when the weather is cold. Before air conditioning was available, people still managed this. Over the course of the last century, some of these natural skills have been lost, and now, as we reach a point in humanity where we have to show greater levels of care with materials used in construction and to maintain comfortable living in more extreme climates, architects and designers are re-learning traditional methods to keep buildings cool in hot climates.

One of the first aspects of a building that should be looked at when building for a hot climate is an obvious one, add as much shade as you can. Glass will always let warm air out during the colder months and let heat in during the warmer months. You need to add some shading over the glass to prevent this greenhouse effect. Use UV-blocking glass to cut down on heat gain and prevent the sun from bleaching the interior of the home.

The colour of the roof is another indicator of good architecture for warm climates, as a white or light-coloured roof will bat back the heat from the sun, keeping the whole house cooler as a result. Having some sort of overhanging shade provides a permanent umbrella to shield the building from direct sun light.

If possible, add plants and water features to a property to help keep it as cool as possible. Water features cool the surrounding air, whilst plant provides natural shade, blocking the sun’s rays before it hits the floor or the surfaces of the building. Increasing air circulation all round is a great way to cool down a building. Cross-ventilation ensures that air is constantly moving, keeping the interior air fresh and cool, and preventing stale air. Think about the views that the household desires, but also what that means in terms of heat retention. The architect will design a large expanse of glass to get the best views but will also be aware of where heat will be trapped and cause a problem of intense heat. Shading devices should be designed and implemented where this is a problem.

Re-learning traditional methods of construction that helped to keep temperatures cool in buildings that were located in hot climates and places susceptible to heat waves, is something that architects and designers are attempting now that we are faced with an ever-increasing future of extreme temperatures and weather patterns. Sustainable architecture for warm climates is something we all need to face up to in the coming years. This is especially the case should we begin to see a rise in temperatures in the UK, where we have been accustomed to a mild climate for centuries. If we are to experience greater levels of heat waves and hotter summers, in a country without air-conditioning as standard currently, architecture and design might be the perfect (only) answer moving forward to keep people cool.

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