The UP Diliman Arki Buildings: Misused Advantages
(An essay on how context affects architecture)
According to Amos Rapoport’s Climate as a Modifying Factor, primitive and peasant builders excellently deal with climatic conditions of a certain area. This means they are very skilled when it comes to using the fewest possible resources to attain maximum comfort. However, just like what our professor said, we nowadays take for granted these skills and resort to concepts which hardly give solutions to our climatic problems. We often make things more complicated, not taking into consideration that these buildings need to provide us shelter from undesirable external forces. So, do the contemporary buildings in the UP Diliman campus, such as the Arki buildings, properly respond to our country’s hot-humid climate? Or were the designers less skilled than primitive and peasant people? Here are data we have gathered regarding the concepts of the Arki buildings which may or may not adapt to tropical climate.
Given a Hot-humid climate, the objective is to cool the body. The UP College of Architecture Building 1 follows several solutions for this climatic problem. First of all, the building has a very high ceiling and very minimal interior divisions. This allows the air to circulate inside. Also, there are considerably large openings at the upper part, addressing the principle “hot air rises, cold air sinks”. This keeps the cool air trapped inside and drives the hot air away. The building has a lot of openings. In fact, there are a lot of windows along almost every side. The glass windows allow in enough light for the morning and thus helps save electricity. The structure is also tilted or oriented in such a way as it doesn’t receive direct sunlight, thus doesn’t have much shade problems. However, even though the building provides all these solutions to tropical climate, it is still very necessary to install Iwata air coolers inside the building. Perhaps this is due to the materials used in the building which are cement and metal beams and columns, which don’t have minimum heat capacity. Also, many glass windows around the building are fixed, meaning they can’t be opened to allow air to enter. The operable windows are often closed or slightly opened, still not allowing enough cool air to enter. The tendency is for the hot air to be trapped inside the building, resulting to a hot temperature.
The UPCA Building 2 on the other hand resembles a courtyard style. However, just like the problem in the Building 1, the openings aren’t utilized properly. There are a lot of windows in the building. However, they are often closed so that an air conditioner could be used inside the rooms. Still there is enough shade to cover up the people walking through corridors, making it cool enough for the students to stay during their break times. The building 2 however made use of the “hot air rises, cold air sinks” principle more effectively compared to the building 1. Here, the classrooms were located at a lower position. The upper floor is larger compared to the one below, thus providing enough shade. This is why it is cool at the corridors in front of the classrooms even without electric fans or air conditioners. All in all, the Arki buildings 1 and 2 both had solutions to the problems of a tropical climate. They both had their respective advantages. However, these advantages aren’t maximized. We don’t utilize the maximum capacity of these buildings to respond to the climate. Instead, we take them for granted to give way to the artificial sources of cool air such as the air conditioners. It would have been helpful to the environment if we were to do away with these coolers and instead show appreciation to the forms and designs of the building; let the building do its work.