During my supervision and coaching of students at the Faculty of Architecture over many years, I experienced that students often demonstrated certain shyness when needing to consult with me as they were afraid that their sometimes primitive, but often intriguing, ideas about ventilation and air conditioning would be swept off the table by me. The finest contacts were those whereby relieved students could continue with their design and were sometimes enthusiastic about the “air conditioning by other means” that we had developed together. There were fewer fans, pumps, and pipes required then in my profession but, fortunately, I did not have to guarantee the climate conditions in the buildings concerned. I often felt the need to elaborate some innovative solutions at the interface of climate control and architecture into working concepts which ultimately led to the research project “Earth, Wind & Fire”.
Over the years of working with architecture and building technology students, my vision regarding climate technology has broadened. For me, the interface of two disciplines was prime breeding grounds for innovative ideas. Challenged and inspired by students and supervisors, I have been focusing on the development of these ideas since 2005, which has ultimately resulted in my doctoral research “Earth, Wind & Fire – Natural Air Conditioning”.
The primary objective of the study was to reduce the distance of understanding between architect and climate engineer by using architectural and structural elements to perform climate services in a building. By linking this objective with the future need for zero-energy buildings, a higher social purpose is served. A basically passive building which is activated by gravitational energy and the environmental resources of earth mass, wind, and the sun was also the basic idea behind the Earth, Wind & Fire Research.