Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thermal Delight

By Dempson Haney

“Thermal Delight in Architecture” is a little black book that can be found at 710 and in the hands of those within Arc481 Environmental Systems and Design. This book is a light read, one that myself finished in just two hours. It was written by Lisa Herchong. When designing a soar building, she found the reference of examples scarce. She then set out to publish this book that would dab into many aspects, theory, and case study of the attributes of thermal energy.

The first chapter is titled “Necessity”. These first pages talk about life and its thermal need. Starting with mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and then humans; it explains comfort zones and how it affects our lives and body.

The next chapter is “Delight”. It was here she describes the temperature (or thermal) fluctuation as a human’s means of refreshment and recreation. Thermal does not restrictively refer to the warmer side of our senses, but also the cooler. “People like to hang a lantern or wind chime under the roof of the veranda. The lightly swaying lantern gives a suggestion of refreshing wind and coolness.” (Herchong 25) This anecdote suggests a psychological reference of our thermal behavior.

Following Delight is “Affection”. It is here she begins to touch base on how thermal interacts with the physical environment of architecture and urban design. She mentions the inglenook, gazebo, porch swing, and what role they played in this thermal interaction. There is also an account of an anthropologist, his family; and what it was like to move from a home with central heat to one where each room needed to be heated via fireplace or salamander. Another precedent is the social center of Japanese hot baths. These baths are similar to Roman baths. Herchong elaborates on their function and how they become a part of their daily routine.

The final chapter in the book is “Sacredness”. Herchong isn’t just talking about the religious complications of thermal transfer. Sacredness also refers to the daily lives of those who interact with a particle form of thermal transfer. One case study is Karen Terry’s home in Sante Fe, designed by avid Wright. “a passively solar-heated house may go through an air temperature flux as great as 20 degrees per day. People learn to live with this flux by putting on a sweater of moving to the part of the house with the most desirable conditions.” (Herchong 56) It also mentions that Karin maintains a sort of migration strategy with her home. It states that thermal comfort is sometimes a luxury and even a status symbol in different parts of the world. One account states that during the medieval times, an Islamic Sultan’s throne was cooled thought evaporation using elaborate fountain systems to create a heat barrier or curtain. Today some of the coolest places in India are stone temples.

My small blog does not do this book justice. There is just so much packed within this small and inexpensive book. You may not be able to write a report on it but you can learn where to start with it. Simply buying this book for the list of sources in the notes is worth the pocket change. Because it touches base on various religions, culture, and regions it is a great way to diverse your knowledge on this particular topic and easy with it being all in one place.

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