Architectural thermodynamics

Architectural thermodynamics
Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy's 1986 chapter on architectural thermodynamics. [4]
In hmolscience, architectural thermodynamics, a branch of human thermodynamics, is the use of concepts, such as energy and entropy, and the laws of thermodynamics in architectural design or theory, in individual unit, buildings, or city planning.

In the late 1970s, one of the first courses on “architectural thermodynamics”, as the class was called, was taught at Georgia Institute of Technology. The course name, however, was eventually changed to “thermal principles in architecture”, because the former name apparently intimidated students. [3]

Architectural pioneers in this field include English urban architect Alan Wilson (1970), Italian architect Luis Fernández-Galiano (1991). [1] Since 1995, Australian-born American mathematician and architect Nikos Salingaros has done a significant amount of theorizing in this field, albeit using a mixture of verbalized analogies, unitless thermodynamic variables, e.g. architectural entropy and architectural temperature, chaos theory, and complexity, geared to match building design with emotional comfort and beauty. [2]

In 1884 to 1992, Sanford Kwinter proposed with a more abstract formulation the need to introduce far from equilibrium thermodynamics and the arrow of time in architecture. These ideas were introduced through a various articles (see “Landscapes of Change: Boccioni's "Stati d'animo" as a General Theory of Models” in Assemblage, No. 19, Dec., 1992, pp. 50-65) and the book Architectures of Time which was written between the years 1984 and 1989 (Architectures of Time. Toward a Modernist Theory of the Event in Modernist Culture. 2002. MIT Press: Cambridge, Massachusetts; London, England). [10]

In 2007, Javier Garcia-German, building on Fernández-Galiano, edited From the mechanical to the thermodynamics. For a Definition Power Architecture and Planning (De lo Mecánico a lo Termodinámico. Por una Definición Energética de la Arquitectura y del Territorio), which seems to have been published in English in 2014 as Thermodynamic Interactions: an Exploration into Material, Physiologcial, and Territorial Atmospheres (Ѻ), the cover of which is as follows: [10]
Thermodynamic Interactions
In 2008, Turkish urban planning engineer Seda Bostanci did her PhD dissertation “Evaluation of Urban Skylines by the Entropy Approach”, wherein he uses a mixture of Shannon entropy and thermodynamic entropy to outline an aesthetical theory (see: aesthetic energy) of urban skyline design, the truncated synopsis of which is as follows: [1]

“Urban design has formed a field in which visual-spatial, cultural, social, functional and natural factors are taken into account for the purpose of providing the best habitat, and that gathers multidimensional concepts together within time while being developed in the intersection of architecture and city planning. Urban design has a wide range of content developed in communication with various disciplines. Within its content, computer and mathematical based model suggestions, especially on researches where urban environment qualities are examined, contribute to the discipline as innovative approaches.

Entropy approach has been put forward as an applicable innovation approach in the matter of aesthetic evaluation (see: beauty) in urban design. Entropy, aesthetic and urban design concepts have some relations. Entropy, in its preliminary meaning, is the mathematical representation of thermodynamic results.In applications, distribution relations of formal aesthetic evaluation criteria are measured over aesthetics-related evaluation concepts. The aesthetical qualities of the city are considered at different scales such as urban pattern, urban skylines, cityscapes, city squares and urban furniture. From among these scales, urban skylines are preferred for the applications. Aesthetical evaluation of the cities, measurability can be achieved through the entropy method. This method also makes possible an interrogation into the relationship that urban skylines formal esthetic evaluation criteria have established between each other.”

Aspects of Bostanci's theory, however, are marred by her use of the information theory interpretation of entropy, which has been shown to be baseless argument. [8]

Air in Motion
A human thermodynamics education course in architectural thermodynamics, a graduate school seminar course entitled "Air in Motion / Thermodynamic Materialism" taught at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, wherein air and or space (see: nature abhors a vacuum) is treated "thermodynamically". [6]
Thermodynamic materialism
In 2013, Harvard University Graduate School of Design offered a four credit seminar course entitled “Air in Motion / Thermodynamic Materialism”, taught by Inaki Abalos and Matthias Schuler, in which air and or space (see: nature abhors a vacuum) is treated and studied “thermodynamically”, rather than metaphorically, poetically, or phenomenologically, as has been done traditionally. An excerpt from the course description is: [6]

“The revision carried out by the thermodynamics from the mid XIXth is critical when reconsidering the architectural and landscape conception of this element, thus happened to be a real building material. This is enabled by parametric digital media, which allows not only deciphering its changing nature over time but also conceiving artificial environments, opening new territories at the scale of buildings, public spaces [see also: personal space] and the landscape. Now, the air in movement demands to be studied in its different manifestations, to reveal its power through meticulous analysis, to map them and to conceptualize what we are calling a new idea of thermodynamic beauty [see: beauty] which completes the tectonic tradition and points new directions to architect´s work.”

The second part of the course deals with "thermodynamic materialism", in some way, in coordination with a research project at ETH Zurich titled "Thermodynamic Materialism".

Viewing the estate (Edward and Charlotte)Surveying the land (Edward and Captian)
Left: Edward and Charlotte discussing changes to the land and buildings of their estate, scale models shown in front and behind them, from the 1996 film version of Goethe's Elective Affinities. Right: Edward and the Captain surveying the land (P1:C3), in preparation for landscape changes to the estate, illustration from the 1885 Hjalmar Boyesen illustrated edition (see also: architect).
Architectural elective affinities
A precursor to architectural thermodynamics, are the human physical chemistry based architectural and landscape work and theories of German polymath Johann Goethe as presented in his 1809 Elective Affinities, wherein he studied and theorized about people as "chemical species" and land and building as structural aspects or conditions, possibly in some sense "catalysts", of human chemical reactions (see: theory) occurring in the "wet way" (aqueous) or "dry way" (heated), modeled on Swedish chemist Torbern Bergman's 1775 A Dissertation on Elective Attractions.

In short, Goethe modeled land and building design from the point of view of affinity chemistry, the precursor science to chemical thermodynamics. The characters of the Architect, the Captain, and Edward all embody aspects of architectural affinity chemistry theory.

A vicarious student of the Goethe's affinity theory work is German sociologist Max Weber, who at the age of 14 was reading Elective Affinities in the classroom as a young student, hiding it behind his textbook. [3] In Weber's application of Goethe's human elective affinities concept metamorphosized into its own peculiar variant, sometimes referred to as Weberian elective affinities, in contrast to Goethean elective affinities.

An extension of this Weberian elective affinities theory in architecture is the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, 5-day “Architectural Elective Affinities Conference” (Mar 20-24), themed on the subject of “architectural elective affinities”, which they defined as a “complex borrowing of the Weberian concept of elective affinities, namely the: attractions, interactions and similarities between individuals or disciplines and fields of research—used as a tool for grasping the development of architectural forms in the perspective of specific spatio-temporal structures.” The synopsis of the conference seems to be the following: [7]

“The elective affinities operative between architectural history and other disciplines—such as literature, history, sociology, anthropology, arts, including the photography and the cinema—have been lengthily debated in the past years. The conference intends particularly to identify these affinities, looking from inside the discipline of architecture.”

(add discussion)
Architectural thermodynamics (2013)
A 2013 poster for reconstruction of the subject and the architectural experience, the relations between space and matter, the use of thermodynamic criteria in design protocols, and how each approach can reveal the idea of ​​beauty. (Ѻ)

Shown adjacent, is a poster for a 2013 conversation series by Philip Ursprung,Iñaki ÁbalosandRenata Sentkiewiczin an open talk where they will share their approach to the topics of the reconstruction of the subject and the architectural experience, the relations between space and matter, the use of thermodynamic criteria in design protocols, and how each approach can reveal the idea of ​​beauty. (Ѻ)

1. (a) Wilson, A.G. (1970). Entropy in Urban and Regional Modelling (ch. 1: What is Entropy?, pg. 1; ch. 7: Entropy, Social Physics, and General Systems Theory, pg. 112; etc.). London: Pion.
(b) Fernández-Galiano, Luis and Carino, Gina (translator) (2000). Fire and Memory: On Architecture and Energy. MIT Press.
(c) Fernández-Galiano, Luis. (1991). El Fuego y la Memoria: Sobre Arquitectura y Energía. Alianza.
2. (a) Salingaros, Nikos A. (1997). “Life and Complexity in Architecture from a Thermodynamic Analogy.” Physics Essays, Vol. 10, pgs. 165-73.
(b) Salinngaros, Nikos A.. (2007). A Theory of Architecture (ch. 5: Life and Complexity in Architecture from a Thermodynamic Analogy, pgs. 105-28). Contributors: Mehaffy, Michael W., Terry M. (Con.) Mikiten, Debora M. (Con.) Tejada, Hing-Sing Yu. Umbau-Verlag Harald Puschel.
3. Benton, CC. (1980). “Laboratory Exercise-Passive Solar Curriculum Development Project.” (text) SmarTech, Georgia Tech.
4. (a) Fathy, Hassan. (1986). Natural Energy and Vernacular Architecture: Principles and Examples with Reference to Hot Arid Climates (ch. 2: Architectural Thermodynamics and Human Comfort in Hot Climates (Scribd) (pdf)). University of Chicago Press.
(b) Hassan Fathy – Wikipedia.
5. Seda, H. (2008). “Evaluation of Urban Skylines by the Entropy Approach” (“Kent Siluetlerinin Entropi Yaklaşımı İle Değerlendirmesi”) (Turkish) (English), Graduate School of Science Engineering and Technology, Istanbul Technical University.
6. Abalos, Inaki and Schuler, Matthias. (2013). “DES-03438: Seminar: Air in Motion / Thermodynamic Materialism”, Spring, Harvard University, Graduate School of Design.
7. Falbel, Anat. (2012). “Architectural Elective Affinities: Call for Papers”, Google Groups, Apr. 2.
8. Thims, Libb. (2012). “Thermodynamics ≠ Information Theory: Science’s Greatest Sokal Affair” (url), Journal of Human Thermodynamics, 8(1): 1-120, Dec.
9. Dusek, Val. (1999). The Holistic Inspirations of Physics: the Underground History of Electromagnetic Theory (Elective Affinities, pgs. 221-23). Rutgers University Press.
10. Garcia-German, Javier. (2017). “Thermodynamic Interactions” (Ѻ),

Further reading
● Berkowitz, Alan R., Nilon, Charles H., Hollweg, Karen S. (2003). Understanding Urban Ecosystems: a New Frontier for Science and Education (ch. 8: Understanding Ecosystems: an Ecological Economics Perspective, section: “Ecological Economics and the Second Law”, by William R. Rees, pgs. 120-22). Springer.
● Kibert, Charles J., Sendzimir, Jan, Guy, G. Bradley. (2002). Construction Ecology: Nature as the Basis for Green Buildings (section: “Thermodynamics in biology and human organization”, pgs. 109-114, section: “Applying biological thermodynamics to buildings”, pgs. 118-19, by Timothy F.H. Allen). Taylor & Francis.

TDics icon ns

More pages