There are many different factors that come into the thinking of designers and architects when looking at how to design a house. For most projects, there is a desire for the structure to be durable and low maintenance, at the bare minimum, but should there be more of a focus on the weather and climate of the site and location when planning and designing a housing development or for a specific building? This is especially if you are building a house for extreme conditions. How should architects and planners look to build homes in extreme climates? There are a few ways in which to go about it.
Obviously, in Britain, the weather is not as extreme as it is in many other countries in the world. We are quite lucky in that respect. But even in mild conditions, there are potential problems to consider with certain materials used in construction. We might not have to worry about torrential rain for months on end, hurricane season or endemic droughts and dry weather, but we do have to consider the weather and its impact on our designs and housing plans, nonetheless. Experienced architects understand the different conditions in an area and the materials that will get the best out of a construction project, tailoring plans and designs to fit the circumstance entirely.
Despite the mild conditions in Britain, even the hardest of rocks can be ground down to dust over a long period of time. From the moment a house is built, the vulnerable materials and points will begin to grind down, and if a property is built in a location of extreme weather conditions and climate, this degradation can occur over a faster timeframe. This is more prevalent in locations where there is no woodland or other natural cover to protect a property from the elements, such as on the top of hills, along coastal areas and wide-open plains – where the wind and rain can have a big impact on the property.
As we move into a time where the climate is only becoming more extreme, with plentiful weather warnings each year, it is important to think about the way in which architects and designers plan and build to protect from the elements. To make sure this is the case, architects in some cases are looking to the history of housing design, with many traditional materials still relevant today when discussing how to protect a building from the elements.
Making sure a building is weatherproof is an important part of the planning process. The wind strength in an area depends on how far the wind can travel from the sea without any obstacle. The speed of the wind drops significantly the further inland you get. As we live on an island nation that is quite small compared with many other countries, the wind speeds are an important factor in so many areas of the country. The wind will have a different impact in different areas though, with coastal wind requiring a different type of material to protect a building from the elements, than a drier, inland wind over mountains and the like.
There is also the problem with the design and architecture of properties with a good view. Everyone wants a good view in their home but think about the open views from a house and you’ll begin to see how the elements (specifically the wind) can have a big impact on the design of the property and the degradation of materials used in its construction. A balcony or large windows will provide that vista homeowners are looking for, but they must be built in a maintenance-friendly way to ensure protection from the elements.
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