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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Arctic/subarctic urban housing : responses to the northern climates Ross, John Frederick


This study investigates the effects of the arctic and subarctic climatic conditions on the built environment, urban housing in particular. The method of research and development of this thesis has been through a literature search coupled with my own working/ design experience in the North (Fairbanks, Alaska) for three years. The thesis is in three parts (chapters 2, 3» and k)» The first part makes a comparison of the climatic conditions in the different northern climatic zones within the state of Alaska, as well as comparing these to more southern climatic zones. The second part (main body of the thesis) investigates the building design responses (solutions) to the varied climatic conditions: solar radiation, temperature, precipitation, wind, and special climatic conditions (humidity/moisture potential, blowing snow, permafrost, and frost heave). This analysis is organized into "planning levels". Four planning levels are established which deal with ^) site layout/circulation patterns, (2) building size, shape, and orientation, activity/space arrangement, and (J) detailing of the building fabric. Using the parameters established in part 2, planning level 1, part 3 illustrates a townsite layout for a specific site, the Willow Site in subarctic Alaska where the new Alaska State Capital i6 to be located. The majority of people who live in the northern urban areas look to the south for their housing styles and designs as well as assess housing quality by "southern standards". Presently there are few ways for people living ln the North to evaluate the quality of housing for that particular climate except through trial and quite often error. This thesis produces an ordered listing of building/housing responses to the northern climates which can be disseminated to the public who can then better assess housing performance and quality for their particular physical environment. The information contained within this thesis would also be of use to professionals in arriving at design decisions for housing/building in northern areas.

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