Climate-Adaptation in Architecture: Thermal Comfort Theory and the Industrial Revolution

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesis

15 Downloads (Pure)


The thesis explores historically different ways of using architecture as a means for adapting to climate. Decades of environmental policy have been focusing on energy saving strategies with an inherent decoupling of the occupant from sustaining an inhabitable climate. This approach takes departure in defining human climatic requirements by the means of thermal comfort theory used for designing a complaint-free indoor climate independent from given climate conditions. Since establishing thermal comfort as a standard requirement, the concept and its assumptions have been disputed for neglecting the human capacity of adapting to varying climate conditions as a vital part of building culture.
This debate is dominated by a dilemma of either improving the match between occupant demand and designing buildings delivering ideal conditions or admitting occupants a variety of means for making themselves comfortable. Disregarding the potential for resource consumption in either of the positions, the debate touches upon a structural difference rooting in the fundamental transitions during the era of industrialization.
A casestudy of the Copenhagen public school building programme 1847-1924 illustrates how the development of climate-adaptation strategies have changed from traditional stoves to central heating and ventilation. As a consequence, the air and heat flow between in and out is being mediated in an increasingly complex route of processes cutting the occupant’s involvement with climate and adaptation practices.
These changes, however, are not a mere consequence of general technological progress, but are embedded in a regime change from traditional architecture towards an industrial production of escalating human requirements and technical capabilities.
Beyond being the historical precedence for a highly mediated relationship between habitation and climate, the 19th century is identified as a conceptual hinge between theoretical positions referring to earlier occupant-based climate-adaptation on the one hand and the post-industrialization climate control regimes on the other.
Translated title of the contributionKlimatilpasning i Arkitekturen: Termisk Komfort og den Industrielle Revolution
Original languageEnglish
ISBN (Print)978-87-7830-391-2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • climate-adaptation
  • thermal comfort
  • ventilation
  • industrialization
  • architecture


Dive into the research topics of 'Climate-Adaptation in Architecture: Thermal Comfort Theory and the Industrial Revolution'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this