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Case Study 12 - The Ventilation

Tadao Ando believes: lights can make the room alive. Winds can make our mind alive. People will keep in good mood. We should make people see the happiness, as well as the feel of it. If we close everything, people can neither see or feel the happiness. It doesn’t work that way.

Living in a ventilated and bright house is the key to happy life.

So how shall a house achieve the ventilation condition??

We can quickly recall words like “坐北朝南” “南北通透”.

As a matter of fact, ventilation is not only related to the direction of your house, it’s more of a final result from surrounding condition and windows. To bring the wind indoor, we need…

1 – wind path

Most of us thought the size of a window decides the ventilation quality. Regarding to the wind path, we need to consider the inlet and outlet first.

If there’s only one window in a room, this window plays both roles of ‘inlet’ and ‘outlet’. It might cause congestion, hence the rest part of the room will not share the same ventilation of the area close to the window.

It’s very common nowadays that in our apartments, one room has one window. we can simply open the door to let the window through into the hallway or other rooms to ensure a thorough ventilation.

Have a wild guess on which room has the best ventilation effect in the following layouts.

The answer is 3>4>5>1>2

Layout 3 represent the ideal ventilated situation. The wind starts from the front window with the path covering every corner of the room.

The second-best layouts are 4 and 5. While the windows are located at joint walls, they still can lead the wind for most part of the room.

We learn that the origin of the wind is also crucial, besides the size and quantity of the windows.

Talking of which, do you have any memories of the geography subject from high school??

2 – where does the wind come from??

The air flow from high-pressure area to low-pressure area consists the wind. At summer, the southern china area has higher pressure then the north, vice versa. Hence, the wind blows differently at different seasons.

At most part of China, especially at beijing, shanghai, guangzhou, hangzhou, it’s mainly wind southeasterly or northwesterly.

There might be exceptions at different geographic locations and different terrains.

Understanding the wind in the particular locations and matching it to a good window is the key to build a ventilated house.

Take the case I did at shenzhen as an example, a lot of people commented that the new design destroyed the original through-and-through 南北通透.

We learn that in shenzhen, the wind blows southeasterly at summer while it does northeastly at winter.

The new layout brings in the summer wind while as avoids the winter wind. It is a better ventilation solution than the original layout.

Apart from the climate condition, the surroundings can also affect the wind path.

Like the room below, the room opening unfortunately locates at the opposite of the wind origin. The walls block the wind path directly.

However, if at the downstream of wind path locates another building, the wind can be re-directed through the gap and improve the ventilation in the room.

Another opposite case as below. At the upstream of the room there is a new building that block the wind flow. The total amount of the fresh air that should have been brought into the room is greatly reduced, hence the ventilation effected is reduced.

Is there any way to solve this problem??

It’s not that difficult as well once we choose the right windows.

3- windows

When the wind blows parallel to the window, which windows would you choose from the below?

In fact, we can simulate the effect in simple sketches. The sliding window brings in less wind than the casement one. Because the opening part pulls the wind over and re-direct it towards indoor area of the room.

Optimizing the opening directions of the windows can help a lot in achieving maximized air volume.

Japanese resource tells that given the same wind speed, casements create 10 times more air volume than sliding windows.

One more important thing to mention before you finally start to modify your windows, is that to be aware of choosing the correct opening direction of the windows.

And keep in mind ventilation is a result of both inlets and outlets. They shall be considered equally at the movement of the air.

With given bad condition of the following case at the left, we can modify the structure by adding an extra window at the end wall to improve the ventilation. The fresh air comes in from up and down windows and goes out through the new windows that enhance a better wind path for better effect.

Right, this is the end of the story of the wind today. I hope you can learn a bit more about ventilation, rather than the cliché 南北通透 etc.

More to come soon.

-the end-

about the author

草三冉 Cao San Ran

is an interior designer and writer, based in Canton area, China.  He has been working in design industry for over a decade both in Japan and China. His works are always well-thought-out in layouts and details to ensure the unique and best hierarchy solutions for each client. His great writings also put an in-depth theory into an accurate but simple explanation that made me a big fan of his. 

If you read Chinese, scan above QR code to read more articles in Chinese from 草三冉. 

I will be happy to translate more of his works to share with English readers. 


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