Atmospheric? Ecologic? Meteorologic? The New Architectural Language of the 21st Century

Atmosferik mi? Ekolojik mi? Meteorolojik mi?


  • Gülşah Güleç



Meteorological Architecture, Atmospheric Architecture, Ecologic Architecture, Atmosphere, Ecology


The aim of this paper is to reveal the fact that meteorological architecture, which is closely related to atmospheric and ecologic architecture, creates a new architectural language within the challenging and constantly changing context of the twenty first century. Meteorological architecture has close relations with atmospheric architecture since it emphasizes the sensational and experiential dimensions of space. Besides it is closely related to ecologic architecture because it discusses the changes in the spatial and climatical conditions. However meteorological architecture, which is brought to the agenda of architecture by Rahm, differs from atmospheric and ecologic architecture. It does not define a poetic approach as atmospheric architecture; instead, it defines a pragmatic approach in architecture. Hence Rahm does not focus on the poetic image of the changing lights and shadows within the space. He rather focuses on these changes to define new spatial and functional relations. As such, climatical conditions such as light, heat, air, and moisture change due to the changing actions and activities of people in meteorological space. Meteorological architecture deals with these changes, but it is different from ecologic architecture since it discusses ecology within a broader interdisciplinary framework. Due to this framework, climatical changes not only lead to spatial, functional, and environmental changes but also bodily changes in meteorological architecture. These are the hormonal changes in the human body, and they enable the ways of designing architectural space to be changed radically. Architectural space is not characterized by its effective form or image anymore. It is now characterized by its effects on the human body. That’s why; there is a change in architectural discourses from “form follows function” to “form and function follow climate” in the twenty first century. Meteorological architecture, which is also defined as physiological, biological, and climatological architecture, leads a new architectural language to be developed with its new discourses and design strategies.
Rahm, as the leading designer of meteorological architecture, promotes this new language by developing it with design strategies such as convection, conduction, emission, and evaporation. These strategies imply to use heat, light, air, and moisture as the main materials in meteorological architecture. Rahm uses them to design meteorological spaces and spatial relations. He illustrates these relations particularly in the thermodynamic sections by using a color palette from red to blue. Red color indicates hot while blue color is implying cold. But there are many other colors in between them to illustrate the spatial relations. Rahm uses these colors to make the invisible spatial components such as heat and light visible in the thermodynamic sections. Thus, section as one of the conventional tools turns into an unconventional design and representational tool in architecture.
Rahm leads conventional and material components such as wall, ceiling and ground to be replaced by unconventional and immaterial components such as heat, light, and moisture as well. These components and their physiological events of convection, conduction, emission, and evaporation enable him to design space and spatial relations in a more flexible and fluid way not by using walls or other structural components. This is a new design strategy in between physiological, biological, and climatological architecture.
However, this new design strategy does not lead Rahm to ignore sensational and experiential qualities of space in architecture. On the contrary, he acknowledges these qualities to design meteorological relations within the space. Hence, he actually designs meteorological relations rather than formal and functional relations in his architecture. Meteorological architecture motivates him to discuss and design changeable, flexible and fluid relations in space. These are generally thermal relations instead of visual or formal relations.
Meteorological architecture paves the way for establishing new relations between space, function and climate. This is a significant architectural approach to deal with global issues such as climate change and energy crisis in the world of the twenty first century. This is an alternative way of thinking on space as well. It is critically important to be able to think and design architectural space as a sphere which consumes less energy and eventually produces less carbon dioxide for keeping the environment clean and safe. A cleaner and safer environment is also important for staying away from the new potential pandemics in the near future. It is generally discussed within the context of decreasing the carbon imprint in recent architecture. Unfortunately, architecture cannot overcome these problematic issues of space, environment, health, and energy only by designing energy-friendly buildings. However, it struggles for updating its discourses and design strategies to focus on the global problematics as in the meteorological architecture of this century.