Posted in practice on March 21, 2014 12:22 pm EDT

Bioclimatic Design

Harnessing creation and using its power to fuel the built worship environment











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TAGS: bioclimatic design,


By Andrew Robinson

Since the very beginning, worship facilities have been following the principles of bioclimatic design. Bioclimatic design refers to architecture which has a connection to nature, taking into account the natural weather and climate of a building site in efforts to avoid dependence on mechanical systems. The most ancient cathedrals and synagogues scattered across Europe have intentionally harnessed their local environment in designing their house of worship. This is notably evident in the vast majority of buildings facing east, allowing the sun to come through the windows in the morning. The natural light engulfing the sanctuary creates a worshipful environment when shining through beautiful stained-glass displays, often depicting scenes from scripture. Considering the proliferation of holy texts was limited before the invention of the printing press, not to mention the limited levels of literacy thereafter, these sanctuaries which utilized bioclimatic design were integral in advancing the mission of the faith.

Today, congregations are still integrating principles of bioclimatic design in their houses of worship. However, this often occurs by happenstance, with many of the numerous benefits of engaging bioclimatic design being lost. The majority of these benefits relate to the heating, cooling, and lighting of the facility. Congregations need to take a serious look at their house of worship and start intentionally examining how they can better adapt their building to the local environment.


Worship facilities can implement principles of bioclimatic design at any stage of its existence. While ideally it would be taken into heavy consideration when drawing blueprints for a new facility, there are many ways existing buildings can adapt to their local environment.  continued >>