Our thermal environment is as rich in cultural associations as our visual, acoustic, olfactory, and tactile environments. This book explores the potential for using thermal qualities as an expressive element in building design.
Until quite recently, building technology and design has favored high-energy-consuming mechanical methods of neutralizing the thermal environment. It has not responded to the various ways that people use, remember, and care about the thermal environment and how they associate their thermal sense with their other senses. The hearth fire, the sauna, the Roman and Japanese baths, and the Islamic garden are discussed as archetypes of thermal delight about which rituals have developed—reinforcing bonds of affection and ceremony forged in the thermal experience. Not only is thermal symbolism now obsolete but the modern emphasis on central heating systems and air conditioning and hermetically sealed buildings has actually damaged our thermal coping and sensing mechanisms. This book for the solar age could help change all that and open up for us a new dimension of architectural experience.
As the cost of energy continues to skyrocket, alternatives to the use of mechanical force must be developed to meet our thermal needs. A major alternative is the use of passive solar energy, and the book will provide those interested in solar design with a reservoir of ideas.
Lisa Heschong earned a degree in Environmental Planning from the University of California at Berkeley and once in Architecture from MIT.