The Smartest Envelope

Beginning in the 20th century building design has been dominated by the idea that the building creates its own climate, independent from the environment. This disconnect from the outside environment takes energy to do so. In the past few decades there has been a movement to become more connected to the environment, using it to our advantage instead of fighting it.  A building should act like a tree, and a city like a forest.


Michelle Addington pointed out the thought behind 20th century buildings. She quotes that buildings were should be thought of as “hermetic” seals that separated indoor climate from outdoors (Addington, 13). This type of thinking, where people are above nature is what is leading climate change. The idea that we can exist in an environment separate completely man made is ludicrous. We live within the bubble that is earth’s atmosphere, and if we are not careful we will burst it.


Dahl describes how we can use the climate in relation to our own bodies. Dahl refers to a building as a “third skin,” after our clothing (Dahl, 58). He describes how the film of the building can be altered to fit the necessities of comfort for the human body.  


One such project is the National Heart Center of Singapore by Ong & Ong:


The building has a flexible, adaptable outer wall that is geared toward being able to change for a patient’s needs. This is the type of design that will shape our buildings of the future. A building will then be a way to funnel the environment in a way that serves the human body best. Architecture must become personal and take root in what the human really needs to survive, then from there, to flourish. 


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