UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Reimagining the contemporary office façade for hot climatic zones Nair, Rohini Rajani


Contemporary facades of the office building typologies are either fully transparent facades or a derivative of one. Having originated in cold countries, these building facades have found their way into the skyline of the hot climatic zones of the world. Representative of progress, peace and prosperity, the transparent facades have started to replace the indigenous architecture of the hot climatic zones despite the well-known problems of the fully glazed façade. This thesis explores the fundamental problems of this type of building envelope that includes questioning of its origins, its materiality and its relevance based on energy for a hot climatic zone. The proposed solution is based on architecture that was already truly sustainable in every way (materially and energetically). This is the pre-industrial architecture, even though been in existence for centuries; it has been increasingly rejected by the developing countries on the grounds of it being visually representative of the old, obsolete and the poor. This thesis goes beyond a simple exploration of the sustainable components of the indigenous architecture to reveal a more holistic approach for the building envelope based on energy, material and form. This approach is formally organized into a potential envelope design methodology for contemporary buildings. This methodology is put to test at the end of the thesis by designing a building envelope based on it. This envelope design tests the feasibility of the methodology at present as well as demonstrates its potential to change the future of building envelope design and construction. It also proves that deriving a façade design from the concepts of pre-industrial architecture will not lead to a façade replicating the past but will be representative of the contemporary times. This thesis is meant to change the perspective towards how we approach the concept of energy and materiality in architecture and also find a better way to integrate the knowledge of the pre-industrial architecture into the contemporary world.

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