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Philippe Rahm

“Modernity led to uniform, consistent spaces in which the temperature is regulated around 21 degrees. The aim here is to restore diversity to the relation that the body maintains with space, with its temperature, to allow seasonal movement within the house, migrations from downstairs to upstairs, from cold to warm, winter and summer, dressed and undressed.” Philippe Rahm Architecture

Housing and studio for Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster source: www.philipperahm.com

Housing and studio for Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster source: www.philipperahm.com

“For people to feel comfortable in a heated room there must be equilibrium in the exchange of heat occurring via convection between their bodies and the surrounding air. This equilibrium is of course relative to clothing, from nudity in the bathroom, to the thermal protection of blankets, to light clothing worn in the living room. Today, confronted with the will to economize energy resources, the demand is to set up in each building, and even each room, a precisely calculated thermal capacity in order to expend only the energy that is strictly necessary.” Philippe Rahm Architecture
 
Philippe Rahm's design for  Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster house “is based on the thermodynamic phenomena of the Gulf Stream, one of the most fascinating models for thinking architecture today because it gives a route to escape from the normalization and the homogenization of the modern space....
 
“Instead of warming all the space at the good temperature around 20°C, we propose to create in the house two sources of heat, like two different thermal poles creating a thermodynamic tension inside the all house: one pole is cold at 15 °C and situated in the upper layers of air of the house. The opposite pole is warm, at 22°C situated in the lower layers of the space. A movement of air will be generated by this difference of temperatures and positions in the space. With the help of thermal model software, we analyze the variation of temperature and his distribution in all the space and find then places for activities, according to specific temperatures. The project process is thus reversed: a indoor climate is first produced and after, functions are freely chosen anywhere in the space related to the thermal quality required depending of activities, clothes, personal desires. An ecologic and economic gain is obtained at the same time by creating in the whole house a low average of temperature at 18°C instead of the 20°C in a normal heating system.”  Philippe Rahm Architecture
 
Rahm plays with standards, behaviors, and physiological effects of interior climates:  “Architects of today investigate the extents of architectural means, making sense of sustainable development. They have to understand how they can limit energy consumption and production of greenhouse gas and, as we know, this is all about the reduction of the energy used in buildings, in heating, etc. .... We take measures now concerning building where we advocate, on one hand, for the use of renewable energy and, on the other hand, for a considerable improvement of thermal insulation of the building envelope coupled with a controlled renewal of air. But do we have architecture acting on a more moderate, finer, smaller, thriftier level? Less heavy, less present architecture, a diluted, almost homoeopathic architecture, but still having the ambition of a climatic correction of elements which need to be respected? Today, we would like to go further down in scale of measures of climatic corrections in order to investigate sensitive zones closer to the body, on the limit of our skin, to reach the point where architecture dissolves and becomes pure thermogenesis...
 
But don't let us make a mistake! This search consists not only in saving energy spent in the building and in fighting global warming, but rather it is also a question of discovering new modes of houses and spatial compositions, of elaborating new strategies of design and beauty, where scales mix, where architecture becomes as much construction and structures as food and sweating.” Archinect interviews Philippe Rahm
 

Commentary

Energy Hog

Should energy efficiency change the way we live? The Energy Hog website is sponsored by the Alliance to Save Energy, whose website defines “Energy Efficiency” in part as  “[g]etting the desired energy services — comfortable homes, profitable businesses, convenient transportation — with less energy use, less air pollution, and lower total cost.” http://ase.org/content/article/detail/938.  This concept of energy efficiency “is a far cry from the energy conservation images and practices of old - of doing with less or doing without, of being uncomfortable or less comfortable.”http://ase.org/section/aboutus

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