Climatic Typologies: From Thermodynamics to Everyday Life


Tuesday, November 13, 2018, 1:00pm


Gund Hall, Room 109, Harvard University Graduate School Of Design.

Our theoretical work and professional practice has explored during the last ten years the design opportunities which the field of thermodynamics and ecology are opening to architecture. However, going beyond the quantitative and performance-oriented approaches which have prevailed in recent years, our work has focused on unravelling the connections which exist between a climatic understanding of architecture and the everyday life of its users.

From this perspective, a thermodynamic approach to architecture needs to address the interactions which exist between local climate, the spatial and material particularities of architecture, and the everyday lifestyles unfolded by its users.

Contrary to the parametric approaches which have dominated thermodynamic architecture during the last decade, climatic typologies are a powerful tool to bridge the gulf which exists between a given local climate and specific everyday life patterns. Climatic typologies —both historical and contemporary— show in a very explicit way how architecture can interact between outdoor climate and the way people live and socialize, offering the potential to connect the spatial and material lineaments of architecture with the specific physiological and psychological behaviors of its users, bridging the gulf between the thermodynamic processes induced by architecture and the quotidian behavior of its inhabitants.

The lecture will start unpacking the theoretical background which underpins this understanding of architecture. Ranging from meteorological data, thermodynamic typologies, constructive strategies and human psychosomatic behavior, to quotidian climatic situations, and overlaying a historical and contemporary outlooks, the lecture will start discussing those architectural ideas which ground ideologically this approach.

After this theoretical introduction the lecture will explore, through a series of competitions and built projects we have developed in the last five years, how a thermodynamic approach to architecture must mediate between the technical and the cultural to provide a comfortable, social and stimulating atmosphere for its users.


Speaker: Javier García-Germán, Associate Professor of Architectural Design, Madrid School of Architecture; Director of the Architecture and Post-Sustainability module in the Master’s Degree in Collective Housing, ETH Zürich & Universidad Politécnica de Madrid; Director of Ecological Urbanism module in the Master in City Sciences, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid.

Sponsor: RCC, Spain GSD.