Thermal And Airflow variability

THe eXPeRIenCe

A space with good Thermal & Airflow variability feels refreshing, active, alive, invigorating and comfortable. The space provides a feeling of both flexibility and a sense of control.

Thermal & Airflow variability can be characterized as subtle changes in air temperature, relative humidity, airflow across the skin, and surface temperatures that mimic natural environments


The Thermal & Airflow variability pattern has evolved from research measuring the effects of natural ventilation, its resulting thermal variability; worker comfort, well-being and productivity; physiology and perception of temporal and spatial pleasure (alliesthesia ); the impact of nature in motion on concentration. Generally speaking, a growing discontent with the conventional approach to thermal design, which focuses on achieving a narrow target area of temperature, humidity and air flow while minimizing variability


The objective of the Thermal & Airflow variability pattern is to provide an environment that allows users to experience the sensory elements of airflow variability and thermal variability. The intent is also for the user to be able to control thermal conditions, either by using individual controls, or allowing occupants access to variable ambient conditions within a space.
In contrast, conventional thermal design tries to achieve a narrow target area of temperature, humidity and airflow, while minimizing variability: the goal being to maintain conditions within the “comfort envelope”.
Design considerations:

  • Incorporation of airflow and thermal conditions into materials, daylighting, mechanical ventilation and/or fenestration will help distribute variability over space and time.
  • Thermal comfort is a vital bridging component between biophilic design and sustainable design, especially in the face of climate change and rising energy costs. When thermal and airflow variability is implemented in a way that broadens people’s perception of thermal comfort, it may also help reduce energy demands for air conditioning and heating.
  • Designing in features that allow users to easily adapt and modify their perceived thermal conditions of their environment will increase the range of acceptable temperatures by two degrees Celsius above and below the conventional parameters for thermal comfort.
  • Coordination of design strategies among a project team (e.g., architect, lighting designer and engineers) as early as the schematic design process will be particularly important for achieving design intent.

Example factors
Naturally occurring
• Solar heat gain
• Shadow and shade
• Radiant surface materials
• Space/place orientation
• seasonal vegetation

Simulated or Constructed
• HvAC delivery strategy
• Systems controls
• Window glazing
• Cross ventilation

The façade and internal layouts are designed to enhance daylight and light/shade variability while reducing glare. Connecting, elevated exterior walkways also provide access to breezes, shade and solar heat

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