The Unbounded Boundary

Michelle Addington

Architectural theorists and sustainable designers have often situated themselves at opposite poles in regard to the architectural project. In one camp, architecture is the representation of an autonomous manifestation emerging from formal inquiry. At the other, architecture is the constructed composite of performative systems derived through functional determinism. The two camps rarely intersect, even insofar as the number of rhetorical exercises aimed at finding common ground—i.e ‘theorizing’ green design—have burgeoned. The chasm between the two may have yielded the inherent competition that exaggerates their incompatibility, but it is what they have in common that shapes the more fundamental conflict between architecture and the thermal environment.

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[1] Cfr. Robin Evans in the posthumous The Projective Cast (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1995) pp. 366.
[2] Ibid, pp. 368-369.
[3] See Colin Rowe and Robert Slutzky, “Transparency: Literal and Phenomenal,” in Perspecta.
[4] Cfr. Le Corbusier, Precisions on the Present State of Architecture and City Planning, trans. E. Aujame (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1991), p.66. The volume is an English transla- tion of a series of lectures that Le Corbusier delivered in Brazil in 1929. The original com- pilation was published in French in 1933.
[5] James Marston Fitch American Building 2: The Environmental Forces That Shape It (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1972), p.46.
[6] Both the UK and the US developed an obsession with ventilation that lasted throughout the nineteenth century. The prevailing belief was that human exhalations of carbonic acid as well emanations of body odor (at tributed to putrefying flesh) were deadly toxins. As such, ventilation with outside air of any kind, including highly polluted air, was considered preferable to the air of interior spaces. The frontispiece of Lewis Leeds’ lecture series in ventilation at Philadephia’s Franklin Institute in 1969 was titled: “ Your Own Breath is Your Worst Enemy.” See Lewis W. Leeds, Lectures on Ventilation, (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1869).
[7] Although John Shaw Billings had perfor­med numerous experiments on determining the ideal ventilation rates for human health, the first major study of ideal air temperature for health was carried out by the New York Commission on Ventilation from 1913-1918. The Danish engineer Ole Fanger developed the PMV, or predicted mean vote, method in the 1980s that is still used to determine the ideal air temperature for human comfort.
[8] Conduction is a function of skin temperature and the temperature of surfaces in direct contact, radiation is a function of skin temperature and the solid angle exposure to radiant field temperatures, evaporation is a function of the vapor pressure on the skin surface and the vapor pressure of immediately adjacent air, whereas convection is a function of skin temperature, air temperature, air pressure and air velocity.