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L e c t u r e 3 :

C l i m a t e r e s p o n s i v e a r c h i t e c t u r e I
C l i m a 6 c z o n e s i n I n d i a
I n d i g e n o u s s h e l t e r s a n d t h e r o l e o f c l i m a t e

Great knowledge comes from the humblest of origins

"No environmental factor plays a greater part in the development of human life than
climate
Vernacular Architecture theoretician, Paul Oliver

Climatic Zones in India



Regions having similar characteristic features of climate are grouped under one climatic
zone. Based on the climatic factors, the country can be divided into a number of climatic
zones.
Bansal et al. had carried out detailed studies and reported that India can be divided into
six climatic zones, namely, hot and dry, warm and humid, moderate, cold and cloudy, cold
and sunny, and composite.. A place is assigned to one of the first five climatic zones only
when the defined conditions prevail there for more than six months. In cases where none of
the defined categories can be identified for six months or longer, the climatic zone is called
composite

Climatic Zones in India


According to a recent code of Bureau of Indian Standards, the country may be divided
into five major climatic zones. It is seen that the recent classification is not very different
from the earlier one except that the cold and cloudy, and cold and sunny have been
grouped together as cold climate; the moderate climate is renamed as temperate climate.
However, a small variation is noticed as far as the land area of the country corresponding
to different zones is concerned.

Climatic Zones in India


Temperature
Differential heating of land and water, altitude, geographic position, cloud cover and
albedo, and ocean currents.
Humidity
Mixing ratio, relative humidity and dew point temperature.
Precipitation
Rain, snow, hail , etc.
Speed and the direction of wind

The characteristics of each climate differ and accordingly the comfort requirements vary
from one climatic zone to another. Before proceeding further, it would be useful to define
comfortand the conditions that affect it. According to ASHRAE [10], thermal comfort is,
that condition of mind which expresses satisfaction with the thermal environment. It is
also, the range of climatic conditions within which a majority of the people would not feel
discomfort either of heat or cold. Such a zone in still air corresponds to a range of 20
30 C dry bulb temperature with 30 60 % relative humidity. Besides, various climatic
elements such as wind speed, vapour pressure and radiation also affect the comfort
conditions.

HOT AND DRY CLIMATE


The hot and dry zone lies in the western and the central part of India; Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Sholapur
are some of the towns that experience this type of climate.
SR.NO

ELEMENTS OF CLIMATE

DESCRIPTION

TEMPERATURE

In summer, the maximum ambient temperatures are as high as 4045 C during


the day, and 2030 C at night. In winter, the values are between 5 and 25 C
during the day and 0 to 10 C at night. It may be noted that the diurnal
variation in temperature is quite high, that is, more than 10 C.

HUMIDITY

The climate is described as dry because the relative humidity is generally very
low, ranging from 25 to 40 % due to low vegetation and surface water bodies.

PRECIPITATION

Moreover, the hot and dry regions receive less rainfall- the annual
precipitation being less than 500 mm.

SPEED AND DIRECTION


OF WIND

Hot winds blow during the day in summers and sand storms are also
experienced. The night is usually cool and pleasant. A generally clear sky, with
high solar radiation causing an uncomfortable glare, is typical of this zone. As
the sky is clear at night, the heat absorbed by the ground during the day is
quickly dissipated to the atmosphere. Hence, the air is much cooler at night
than during the day.

In such a climate, it is imperative to control solar radiation and movement of hot winds.
The design criteria should therefore aim at resisting heat gain by providing shading, reducing exposed
area, controlling and scheduling ventilation, and increasing thermal capacity. The presence of water
bodies is desirable as they can help increase the humidity, thereby leading to lower air temperatures.
The ground and surrounding objects emit a lot of heat in the afternoons and evenings. As far as
possible, this heat should be avoided by appropriate design features.

Vernacular Architecture of Ahmedabad


Climate:
In Ahmedabad three major seasons are generally recognized: the hot dry summer, the
hot-humid monsoon and a temperate dry winter.

The summer season begins in march when the temperature begins its steady climb from
30C daily highs of February to the 47C extremes of ate May. This three month hot
season is characteristically very high with relative high humidity often below 20 %,
absolutely clear skies and no precipitation.

The monsoon season usually arrives between June 15th and 21st..The temperature drops to
33C during the day and 24C at night. The rains last for two and a half to three months in
Ahmedabad. Over the season the city receives a total of 823mm of rain on average.
Relative humidity stays very high- 70-85%.

Late September and October form the post monsoon transition to winter which doesnt
properly start until late November when the temperatures finally cool down. The humidity
is low and the temperature drop to 20C during the day and dip to 12C at night with
totally clear skies.

Vernacular Architecture of Ahmedabad : Pol House


Response to climate:
The thermal behavior of the pol house over the seasonal cycle in Ahmedabad, is a
function of the siting and massing of the house, shading, solar radiation, thermal mass.

Summer season ( mid march-mid June)
The house functions as a protective shell, keeping the outside heat at a distance and
providing a microclimate of shade, cool surfaces and cooler, more humid air within the
house.
The pol house is well sited for shading. Shading long party walls while exposing narrow
end walls is a successful strategy. The wall surfaces exposed are furthermore on narrow
streets which tend to shade the house facades . Most successful, however, is the unique
pol house strategy of cloaking the exposed mass walls with wooden details. The low
thermal capacity of the carved wood facings provide a shield between incident solar
radiation and the thermal mass of the house.
The courtyard is a less straightforward thermal amenity. As the season moves toward the
21st june, when the sun is at 89.5C overhead, the solar radiation entering the court
increases, heating up the interior mass of the pol house over the season. The tall and very
narrow proportions of the courtyard clearly minimizes the incoming solar radiation with
self shading. In many houses, the inside elevations are also detailed with carved wood
facing, wooden shutters, etc., keeping the wall mass shaded much as with the exterior
elevation.

Vernacular Architecture of Ahmedabad : Pol House


Response to climate:
Window openings, which are shuttered with wood rather than glazed, are opened during
the cooler night hours and closed during the day to prevent the heat of the day from
entering. The house is flushed is flushed with cooler air during night and hot air is
exhausted throught the stack of the courtyard.

WARM AND HUMID CLIMATE


The warm and humid zone covers the coastal parts of the country. Some cities that fall under this zone
are Mumbai, Chennai, Kerala and Kolkata. The high humidity encourages abundant vegetation in these
regions.
SR.NO

ELEMENTS OF CLIMATE

DESCRIPTION

TEMPERATURE

In summer, temperatures can reach as high as 30 35 C during the day, and


25 30 C at night. In winter, the maximum temperature is between 25 to 30 C
during the day and 20 to 25 C at night.

HUMIDITY

An important characteristic of this region is the relative humidity, which is


generally very high, about 70 90 % throughout the year. Although the
temperatures are not excessive, the high humidity causes discomfort.

PRECIPITATION

Precipitation is also high, being about 1200 mm per year, or even more. Hence,
the provision for quick drainage of water is essential in this zone.

SPEED AND DIRECTION


OF WIND

The wind is generally from one or two prevailing directions with speeds ranging
from extremely low to very high. Wind is desirable in this climate, as it can cause
sensible cooling of the body.

The main design criteria in the warm and humid region are to reduce heat gain by providing shading, and
promote heat loss by maximising cross ventilation. Dissipation of humidity is also essential to reduce
discomfort.

Vernacular Architecture in Kerala


Climate:
The warmhumid climate of Kerala is characterized by heavy rainfall and high relative
humidity, and relatively moderate temperature. In effect, Kerala has only two predominant
seasons rainy and non-rainy seasons.

The rainy season lasts for about half of the year where heavy rainfall occurs due to
South-West monsoon from June to August and North-East from September to November.

Winter and summer comes under the non-rainy season. The winter period (December
January) with warm and relatively less humid days and cold nights is more comfortable
than summer.The summer season (FebruaryMay) is with hot and humid days and nights
and intense solar radiation during the day. The moisture in the atmosphere causes acute
discomfort during this period.

Vernacular Architecture in Kerala


The traditional houses of Kerala are generally designed for the following major problems
caused by the characteristic warm humid climate.

Excess of moisture in the atmosphere.
Excess of moisture in the atmosphere make the indoors very humid preventing
evaporation. The orientation of building to take advantage of the prevailing wind, the
presence of internal courtyard and the internal arrangement of spaces helps to maintain
the required air movement inside the building.

Heavy rainfall
Penetration of water to the interiors through the roof due to heavy rain, prevalent in the
climate, is prevented by pitched roofs covered with burnt clay roofing tiles, thatch, etc.
Dampness is eliminated up to a higher extent by building on elevated lands with high
plinths.

Intense solar radiation and Effect of high temperature.
Large roof overhangs protecting the walls from the sun and shaded verandahs, prevents
high intensity radiation. The use of walls with jalli while preventing the entry of direct
sunlight, allows necessary air movement. Use of insulative materials like laterite for
external walls, timber for ceiling and roof protects interior from excessive heat.

Vernacular Architecture in Kerala


RESPONSE TO CLIMATE

Orientation of the building
Kerala vernacular buildings are oriented strictly according to the cardinal directions as per
vasthusasthra. The entry to the building is provided from South or East. The spaces that
are used during the day time are mostly placed on the North and South sides while those
used during the nights are on the West.

Internal arrangement of spaces
The positioning of spaces is very much important in spatial planning. The living spaces
which are semi-open are on the Southern side with optimum number of openings for
ventilation. The kitchen is positioned at the North-East corner of the building as the wind
is mostly from South-West direction. This avoids the spreading of hot air from kitchen to
other spaces. All other spaces including bedrooms are arranged around the courtyard in
such a way as to permit adequate air movement in all seasons.

Vernacular Architecture in Kerala

Vernacular Architecture in Kerala



Openings and use of natural ventilation
Buildings usually have large number of openings in the form of windows and ventilators.
Provision of open or semi-enclosed spaces also give ample scope for air movement.
Another remarkable feature in the Kerala vernacular architecture is the provision of open
gables (mughappu) in the roof and the provision of wooden jalli (azhi) in the external walls
at appropriate positions. The wooden jalli (azhi) in the external walls in appropriate
positions helps to draw external air with the effect of courtyards.

Vernacular Architecture in Kerala


Internal courtyard
They enjoy better microclimatic conditions than the surrounding open areas, and are
supposed to have a positive effect on the indoor comfort conditions of the enclosing
building volume.
In the courtyard a pool of cool air is retained as this is heavier than the surrounding warm
air . The courtyard is an excellent thermal regulator in many ways. The heat gain from the
sun will be more in the upper part of the courtyard. This makes the air in the upper part of
courtyard warmer and lighter, causing the air to move upwards. Thus a low pressure
develops in the courtyard and it induces an air movement from outside, through the
surrounding spaces . After sunset also the phenomenon continues till the air in the
courtyard cools fully by convective flow.

Vernacular Architecture in Kerala


Thermal insulation
The thermal insulation in buildings is achieved by the effective use of materials and the
techniques used in the construction of walls and roof.

The external walls of vernacular buildings are usually very thick up to a maximum of 750
mm with double layer of laterite masonry with a gap in between that is filled with fine sand.
This makes the external wall highly insulative.

Wooden ceiling (tattu) is also provided beneath the roof. This provides a large air space at
the attic which acts as an insulation layer against the conduction of external heat through
the roof. This air space is well ventilated with openings (jalli) on both sides to permit
maximum cross ventilation.

COLD AND CLOUDY CLIMATE


Generally, the northern part of India experiences this type of climate. Most cold and cloudy regions are
situated at high altitudes. Ootacamund, Shimla, Shillong, Srinagar and Mahabaleshwar are examples of
places belonging to this climatic zone. These are generally highland regions having abundant vegetation
in summer.

SR.NO

ELEMENTS OF CLIMATE

DESCRIPTION

TEMPERATURE

The intensity of solar radiation is low in winter with a high percentage of


diffuse radiation. Hence, winters are extremely cold. In summer, the maximum
ambient temperature is in the range of 20 30 C during the day and 17 27
C at night, making summers quite pleasant. In winter, the values range
between 4 and 8 C during the day and from -3 to 4 C at night, making it quite
chilly.

HUMIDITY

The relative humidity is generally high and ranges from 70 80 %.


PRECIPITATION

Annual total precipitation is about 1000 mm and is distributed evenly


throughout the year.

SPEED AND DIRECTION


OF WIND

This region experiences cold winds in the winter season. Hence, protection
from winds is essential in this type of climate. The sky is overcast for most part
of the year except during the brief summer.

Conditions in summer are usually clear and pleasant, but owing to cold winters, the main criteria for
design in the cold and cloudy region aim at resisting heat loss by insulation and infiltration, and promoting
heat gain by directly admitting and trapping solar radiation within the living space.

Vernacular Architecture in Himachal Pradesh


Houses in Himachal are oriented with their longest side facing the valley and their backs against the
mountain , which makes them less susceptible to seismic forces. Because of the steep, stepped terrain,
houses lie scattered across and up the mountain plateau

Vernacular Architecture in Himachal Pradesh


The traditional himachali houses are generally designed for the following major problems
caused by the characteristic cold and cloudy climate.
1. Heavy rainfall 2.Effect of low temperature

RESPONSE TO CLIMATE:
Himachals extreme climate means that local building has to conserve heat and disperse
snow: The houses generally comprise of four primary components
Stone plinth, which creates the base of the house
Wood and stone walls, which forms the core of the house with floors as an insert
Projecting wooden balconies on upper levels, which acts as second skin to the house.
Overhanging slate roof fixed to the wooden frame, which caps the entire structure.

Vernacular Architecture in Himachal Pradesh


The Kath-khuni architecture is made of two materials: Himalayan slate, a dark grey-layered stone that
absorbs heat and is impermeable to moisture and deodar timber, able to withstand exposure to moisture
and adjust to climatic changes.

RESPONSE TO CLIMATE:

The levels of vernacular houses
are logically organised.

A gaushala on the ground level
offers both sustenance and
insulation. During the summer,
cattle stand outside on the deep
stone plinth, shaded by the
buildings overhanging roof. In
winter, the whole house uses the
warmth created by the animals
indoors. Sometimes a secondary
mezzanine level in the gaushala
serves to get the fodder off the
ground and closer to the next
floor, offering further insulation.
In all but the smallest houses,
ladders and trapdoors allow
people access to the gaushala
space during cold weather.

RESPONSE TO CLIMATE:
The middle level of the house is used to store
practical items. If the house is large enough, it
includes an indoor granary. Otherwise this
first floor includes wooden bins, cupboards or
boxes that can keep a years supply of grain,
vegetables, bedding and clothing. Its rooms
are dark, compact and self-contained and
often accessible by a ladder and trapdoor
system from the top floor. This middle zone
acts as a buffer between the living areas
upstairs and the smells of cattle downstairs.

The top level usually houses cooking and living
spaces and, sometimes, formal spaces to
entertain and welcome guests. The top floors
living rooms are rich in the variety and design
of their niches, storage furniture and room
dividers.

Doors and windows are small . Small openings
of doors and windows prevent heat loss.
The interior surfaces of the walls in the living
space are finished with wooden planks or mud.
These details keep interiors cool in summer
and warm in winter.

MODERATE CLIMATE
Pune and Bangalore are examples of cities that fall under this climatic zone. Areas having a moderate
climate are generally located on hilly or high-plateau regions with fairly abundant vegetation.
SR.NO

ELEMENTS OF CLIMATE

DESCRIPTION

TEMPERATURE

The solar radiation in this region is more or less the same throughout the year.
Being located at relatively higher elevations, these places experience lower
temperatures than hot and dry regions. The temperatures are neither too hot
nor too cold. In summers, the temperature reaches 30 34 C during the day
and 17 24 C at night. In winter, the maximum temperature is between 27 to 33
C during the day and 16 to 18 C at night.

HUMIDITY

The relative humidity is low in winters and summers, varying from 20 55%, and
going up to 55 90% during monsoons.

PRECIPITATION

The sky is mostly clear with occasional presence of low, dense clouds during
summers. The total rainfall usually exceeds 1000 mm per year. Winters are dry
in this zone.

SPEED AND DIRECTION


OF WIND

Winds are generally high during summer. Their speed and direction depend
mainly upon the topography.

The design criteria in the moderate zone are to reduce heat gain by providing shading, and to promote
heat loss by ventilation.

COLD AND SUNNY CLIMATE


The cold and sunny type of climate is experienced in Leh (Ladakh). The region is mountainous, has little
vegetation, and is considered to be a cold desert.

SR.NO

ELEMENTS OF CLIMATE

DESCRIPTION

TEMPERATURE

The solar radiation is generally intense with a very low percentage of diffuse
radiation. In summer, the temperature reaches 17 24 C during the day and 4
11 C at night. In winter, the values range from -7 to 8 C during the day and
-14 to 0 C at night. Winters thus, are extremely cold.

HUMIDITY

The relative humidity is consistently low ranging from about 10 50 %

PRECIPITATION

Precipitation is generally less than 200 mm per year

SPEED AND DIRECTION


OF WIND

Winds are occasionally intense. The sky is fairly clear throughout the year with
a cloud cover of less than 50%.

As this region experiences cold desert climatic conditions, the design criteria are to resist heat loss by
insulation and controlling infiltration. Simultaneously, heat gain needs to be promoted by admitting and
trapping solar radiation within the living space.

COMPOSITE CLIMATE
The composite zone covers the central part of India. Some cities that experience this type of climate are
New Delhi, Kanpur and Allahabad.
SR.NO

ELEMENTS OF CLIMATE

DESCRIPTION

TEMPERATURE

A variable landscape and seasonal vegetation characterize this zone. The


intensity of solar radiation is very high in summer with diffuse radiation
amounting to a small fraction of the total. In monsoons, the intensity is low with
predominantly diffuse radiation. The maximum daytime temperature in
summers is in the range of 32 43 C, and night time values are from 27 to 32
C. In winter, the values are between 10 to 25 C during the day and 4 to 10 C
at night.

HUMIDITY

The relative humidity is about 20 25 % in dry periods and 55 95 % in wet


periods.

PRECIPITATION

Precipitation in this zone varies between 500 1300 mm per year.


SPEED AND DIRECTION


OF WIND

This region receives strong winds during monsoons from the south-east and
dry cold winds from the north-east. In summer, the winds are hot and dusty.
The sky is overcast and dull in the monsoon, clear in winter and frequently
hazy in summer.

Generally, composite regions experience higher humidity levels during monsoons than hot and dry zones.
Otherwise most of their characteristics are similar to the latter. Thus, the design criteria are more or less
the same as for hot and dry climate except that maximising cross ventilation is desirable in the monsoon
period.