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64

arq: Vol 1: spring 1996 environment

Climatic responsive atrium design in Europe


Dennis Ho 24 St. John's Road London NW11 OPJ United Kingdom

This paper considers the relationship between atrium design and different climatic conditions in Europe. The analyses may be used to inform design proposals for buildings which seek to optimise the thermal buffering characteristics of atria. Particular attention is given to certain parameters with a potential to form climatic responsive and energy efficient atrium buildings.

The potential energy savings of atria are now widely acknowledged. Apart from acting as thermal buffers to reduce winter heat loss through the internal atrium facades (the separating walls between the atrium and the main building), atrium spaces can offer spatial and visual amenities to otherwise monotonous deep plan buildings. The atria, however, can also increase the overall energy consumption of the buildings if they are artificially lit and airconditioned to meet comfort criteria such as those for continuously occupied spaces (Baker, 1992). It is, of course, incorrect to assume that an atrium building which works well at one latitude will also work well at others. Atria, for instance, should catch the sun and avoid the breeze in winter in a northern climate and avoid the sun and catch the breeze in a southern climate. The aim of this research was to gain an understanding of the relationship between atrium design and different climatic conditions. It examines the possibilities of varying certain parameters in atrium design, such as building geometry, orientation, envelope design and ventilation strategies, thereby suggesting strategies for the design of energy efficient and climatic responsive atrium buildings. It is impossible to give an analysis based on all the possible combinations of atrium form and climate around the world. As the single European market is providing more opportunities for architects to practise in the EC in countries other than their own, it is obvious that an understanding of how buildings respond to the different climates within Europe is much needed. Special emphasis

is, therefore, placed on a few generic types of atrium building in different climatic zones in Europe. Methodology of the analyses The parametric and comparative analyses are divided into four stages. First, a series of generic atrium types [Fig. 1] is examined. Second, the effect of variation in the performance of the internal atrium facades such as glazing ratio, shading strategies and thermal performance is analysed. Third, various modes of ventilation strategies are studied. Finally, recommendations on energy efficient atrium design for four climatic zones are given. Here, an attempt is made in the classification of the climatic zones based on their temperature, solar radiation and sky luminance characteristics. The analyses adopt the classification system used for the LT method (Baker, 1991).1 The four climatic zones [Fig. 2] are represented by four locations, and their most relevant characteristics are as follows:
Zone A Temperate Climate - Mid European Coastal e.g. Kew (5128'.0019'W): mild winters with low solar radiation, mild summers. Zone B Northern Climate - North European Coastal e.g. Stockholm (5921 '.1757'E): cold winters with low solar radiation and short days, mild summers. Zone C Continental Climate e.g. Stuttgart (4850'.0912'E): cold winters with high radiation and longer days, hot summers. Zone D Southern Climate - Southern and Mediterranean e.g. Milan (4526'.0917'E): mild winters with high radiation and long days, hot summers.

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The analyses are based on a static computer model, the ATRIUM model. The model responds to various parameters such as orientation and form in a simplified way. Although the ATRIUM model has its limitations, it is specific enough to inform early design decisions and generic enough to allow individuality in the design to be developed (Baker, 1988).2 A list of the main parameters can be found in note 3. For the purpose of the study, criteria based on the monthly neutral temperatures of the atrium, the temperature at which most people feel comfortable under sedentary conditions, are used." The aim is to achieve the neutral temperatures within the atria with minimum energy consumption. Due to the vast amount of data, a selection of the results which serve to demonstrate the principles is presented in this paper. Building form - shape and proportion In passive atrium building design, the shape and proportion of the atria primarily influence the amount of heat transfer between the atria and the ambient environment. For example, a compact form with low surface area to volume ratio (SA/) has relatively small heat gain and loss. In general, results of the analyses confirm that there are seasonal shifts in the atrium temperatures. By covering the courts forming atria, the temperatures of the atria are higher than the ambient temperatures throughout the year. This temperature rise is much more noticeable during the winter thus confirming the thermal benefit of atria in winter. It has also been found that atria in a temperate climate (zone A) have smaller seasonal fluctuations than those in the more extreme climates (zones B, C and D). Thus, temperature fluctuations in atria are climatic dependent [Fig. 3]. Atria in more extreme climates require more sophisticated controls to minimise temperature fluctuations. The major temperature variations are found to occur in the different generic types of atrium. When compared with centralised and linear atria (types A and F), atria with southfacing facades (types B and D) have relatively high summer temperatures due to excessive heat gain but relatively low winter temperatures due to substantial heat loss. This temperature change is particularly marked in summer. This is most noticeable in the northern climate (zone B) where winter ambient temperatures are very low and sunlight hours are limited [Fig. 4]. Hence, the implications of external atrium glazing in atria are more marked in the extreme

AF/BF=1:1

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PR = 3.2 PR = 4.5 PR = 5.6 PR =1.3 PR = 1.6 PR =1.8

AF/BF=1:3

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Climatic responsive atrium design in Europe Dennis Ho A. Centralized

B. Semi-enclosed

C. Semi-enclosed

D. Attached

E. Attached

I I II II
PR = 1.2 PR = 9 1 PR = 3 9 PR = 1.1 PR = 2.1

F. Linear

G. Linear Atrium 1 Main building

1. Plans of the standard generic atrium types used in the analyses. AF/BF = atrium floor area to main

building floor area ratio. PR = protectivity ratio, i.e. ratio of the total internal atrium facade area to the

total external atrium glazing area. 2. Europe showing

the four climatic


zones used in the analyses.

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arq: Vol 1: spring 1996 environment

Continental climate Northern climate


Climatic responsive atrium design in Europe Dennis Ho JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC

JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC

Month

Month

Zone A Sa

Zone B

Zone C

Zone D 5b

Zone A

Zone B

Zone C

Zone D

Climatic zones

Climatic zones

climates. The more exposed the atria, and the colder the climates, the lower the atrium temperatures in winter. In addition, the fall in atrium temperature in winter increases as the atrium floor to main floor ratio (AF/BF) increases, i.e. increasing the size of the atrium without increasing the main floor plate, particularly in a northern climate. This is because the total heat loss through the external atrium glazing is often more than heat gain through the same area during the heating season. This leads to a net increase in winter heating load when the glazing is not protected from excessive heat loss [Rgs. 5a and 5b]. This temperature change is more noticeable in enclosed atria. Hence, a balance is often needed between the optimum amount of glazing for passive solar heating purposes and that required to limit heat loss. Further analyses indicate that by elongating an attached atrium (type D) to twice its length, summer temperatures increase markedly while winter atrium temperatures increase by only a negligible amount. The winter thermal benefits of elongated atria are thus offset by additional cooling requirements. This evidence further suggests that energy savings do not necessarily improve with larger atria.

In an urban environment where there is often a tendency to increase the height of the buildings, it is interesting to discover that by doubling the height of the atrium buildings, the average winter effects in all the generic atrium types are negligible, while the summer atrium temperatures drop depending on the climatic zones and the generic atrium types [Fig. 6]. The greatest summer temperature drop occurs in the change of height in the centralised atria (type A) in the southern climate (zone D). This is mainly due to the self-shading effect the taller building is now providing. Thus, compact and taller forms can be advantageous in reducing the overall summer temperature rise in the atria, particularly in low latitude locations. The temperature at the lower levels within the atria will also be much lower than that at the higher levels thus increasing the pressure difference, which in turn enhances the natural buoyancy effect for natural ventilation purposes. It is interesting to compare the above observations with protectivity ratio (PR) of the different generic atrium types. ProtectMty ratio is defined as the ratio of the total internal atrium facade area to the total external atrium glazing area.5 The greater the extent of external glazing

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arq: Vol 1: spring 1996 environment

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and the shallower the atrium, the smaller the protectivity ratio [Fig. 1, Fig. 7]. Hence, the area of the main building protected from the external environment is less for the same amount of glass (Baker, Hawkes, 1987). This supports the results which indicate that centralised atria (type A) with high protectivity ratio have relatively small seasonal temperature swings when compared with types B, C, D and E which have lower protectivity ratios.

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More detailed analyses indicate that the seasonal temperature swings of atria in a temperate climate (zone A) are relatively small compared with those in the other three climatic zones. The centralised and linear atria (types A, F and G) have the smallest seasonal temperature fluctuations and their overall temperature performance remains relatively close to the neutral temperatures, particularly in summer. On the whole, the centralised and linear atria prove to be the most favourable in the temperate climate in terms of both summer and winter temperature swings. In the northern climate (zone B), precautions against excessive heat losses inflicted by the atria should be taken. Solar gain in winter cannot reduce the peak heating load by a substantial amount since solar energy is available in appreciable amounts only in the autumn and spring. However, high latitude locations can benefit from solar energy for a longer period than the southerly regions because of the longer heating season. This, on the whole, makes atria viable as passive solar systems. The analyses indicate that spring and autumn atrium temperatures in the centralised and linear atria (types A, D and E) are low compared with those in a south-facing attached atrium (type D). However, the centralised and linear atria have the least seasonal temperature fluctuations while the southfacing attached atria (type D) have very high summer temperatures due to solar gain from low angle sun. It therefore seems that enclosed atria with steeply inclined roof glazing to optimise solar gain are most favourable. The continental climate (zone C) is characterised by the large diurnal temperature swings and relatively high radiation in summer and winter. The analyses indicate that the centralised atria, with their highest winter temperature and summer temperatures that follow the comfort temperature most closely, are most appropriate. Southfacing semi-enclosed atria (type B) can also be viable options as their winter temperatures are high. Shading is, however, important during the cooling season. Southfacing attached atria (type D) have relatively low winter temperatures and very high summer temperatures, making them relatively undesirable. For the southern climate (zone D), the results indicate that all of the atrium types have the potential of raising the winter atrium temperatures relatively close to the comfort level. The problem, however, lies in summer overheating. Even with the centralised atria, which have the smallest temperature fluctuations, the atrium temperatures in summer can still be very high due to the large amount of solar radiation on the roof planes. The roof should, therefore, preferably be north facing. On the whole, there does not seem to be a real energy-saving benefit in adopting atrium design in low latitude locations. The benefit of a winter thermal buffer has to be balanced out by the need for mechanical cooling in summer. A south-

Climatic responsive atrium design in Europe Dennis Ho

7 Attached atrium

Linear atrium

3. Graph showing temperature variations for semienclosed atria with AF/BF=1:3inthe four climatic zones. 4. Graph showing temperature variations for the atrium types with AF/BF=1:3inthe northern climate. 5a. Bar chart showing the effect of variation in the atrium floor to main building floor ratio (AF/BF)of centralised atria on Jan/Dec temperature difference in the four climatic zones. Sb. Bar chart showing the effect

of variation in the atrium floor to main building floor ratio (AF/BF) of attached atria on Jan/Dec temperature difference in the four climatic zones. 6. Graph showing temperature variations for atria of different heights in the centralised and attached atria in the southern climate. 7. Axonometric views of four types of atria. The protectivity ratio (PR) equals the ratio of the total area of internal atrium facades to the total area of external atrium glazing.

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arq: Vol 1: spring 1996 environment

40

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Climatic responsive atrium design in Europe Dennis Ho


JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC Month

Semi-enclc ised atrium-su mmer Attached i trium-summer Zone A Zone B Zone C Climatic zones

Zone D

facing glazed roof would also require a substantial amount of shading in summer which in turn reduces the overall daylight penetration. It is therefore recommended that atria in the southern climate should be designed so that they can be converted into opened spaces in summer by using retractable roofs. In atria where retractable roofs are not appropriate due to external conditions such as noise and rain, summer atrium ventilation should be minimised to reduce the ingress of hot external air. Heat gain during the day can be collected using thermal storage and released at night which in turn encourages an increase in thermal buoyancy for night-time ventilation. Orientation Building orientation affects the indoor climate in two main respects. First, solar radiation from different orientations through the facades has a substantial effect on the internal environment. Second, the relationship between the direction of the prevailing winds and the orientation of the building will influence natural ventilation within the building (Olygag, 1963). If we assume that ventilation takes place under natural buoyancy, it becomes the first factor that the analyses are most concerned with. In terms of energy efficiency, orientation for the atria depends on the heating requirements and the occupancy periods. For maximum heat gain during heating season, the external atrium glazing should preferably be southeasterly orientated if morning heating is required, as in an office space. A south-west orientation is preferred if afternoon heating is required in a house where the main occupancy period is often from the afternoon to the next morning. Atria facing west may receive excessive solar gain in the afternoon, particularly in summer when the buildings are already heated and ambient temperatures are high. Atria with their facades facing north require higher energy loads due to lack of solar gain and should, therefore, be avoided. In the southern climate where the sun angle is relatively high, horizontal glazing will receive more solar radiation in summer than an inclined roof. Horizontal glazing in low latitudes should, therefore, either be well protected from solar gain or avoided. In extreme southern climate, the

roofs should face away from the sun but catch the prevailing winds for ventilation purposes. For the centralised and linear atria (types A, F and G), the design of the roof (its thermal performance and angle of slope) is relatively important particularly in the northern climate as discussed before. Trie angle of pitch should relate to the sun angles during spring and autumn as these periods can benefit from solar radiation for a longer period than the winter season. In general, the slope of the roof should be perpendicular to the angle of incident. The analyses also indicate that linear atria with their long axis running north/south have relatively high atrium temperatures when compared with those in which the axis runs east/west. This is because the sun penetrates into the ground level throughout the winter, although it is limited to the couple of hours about noon due to self-shading by the main building. This type of atrium may be beneficial in creating a psychological warmth effect particularly in the winter of a northern climate. After the first stage analyses, it becomes clear that the centralised and the linear atria seem to be the most appropriate in the four climatic zones. This supports the notion that covered courtyard buildings and arcades are most effective climate modifiers, variations in the shape and proportion of an atrium will also influence the heat transfer between the atrium and the main building. Glazing ratio Most glass has relatively little insulation value and offers little protection from radiation. In designing atrium facades, the energy balance between useful natural light, useful solar gains, heat losses and other factors, such as ventilation, view out and privacy, must be considered. Here, the analyses focus on the glazed areas in the internal atrium facades that affect heat and light transmission between the main building and the atrium. In general, by increasing the amount of glazing in the internal atrium facades, the atrium temperatures in winter increase slightly. This is due to heat loss from the warmer main building to the cooler atrium. Furthermore, the increase in glazing ratio means that less opaque surface area is now available for storing solar gain. The reverse is

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8. Graph showing temperature vanations for different glazing ratios in semienclosed atria with AF/BF=1:3inthe southern climate. 9. Bar chart showing the effect on atrium temperatures of changing glazing ratios from 20% to 80% in semienclosed and attached atria in the four climatic zones. 10. Cross section through a central atrium. The thermal

performance of the glazing should vary according to the solar gain received by each bay. 11. Cross section through three central atria. 11a Shading is provided to the outside of the atrium glazing. 11b. Shading is provided to the top but inside the atrium. 11c. Shading is provided to the individual bay according to solar

Climatic responsive atrium design in Europe Dennis Ho

within acceptable levels will be perceived more as tempered external spaces, thus reducing the demand for stringent comfort criteria. When the glazing ratio is tested against the different generic types of atrium, the analyses indicate that, in all the climatic zones, variations in glazing ratio have the greatest effects on the more enclosed atria [Fig. 9]. The reason lies in the protectivity ratio. A larger amount of glazing in the attached atria tends to 'even out' the temperature fluctuations. Hence, the glazing ratio in the more enclosed atria has a more important role to play in controlling temperature swings in the main buildings. Paradoxically, enclosed atria provide greater self-shading and the demand for a larger amount of glazing for daylight purposes can be relatively high. The effects of variations in glazing ratio in the internal atrium facades are found to be more marked in the more extreme climates. For example, the reduction in summer atrium temperatures due to an increase in glazing ratio in a semi-enclosed atrium (type B) is small in a temperate climate but relatively high in a continental climate. This reduction in summer atrium temperature may, initially, seem to be beneficial in the continental climate. The result, however, is again deceptive as most of the heat has now gone into the main buildings resulting in higher cooling load. Glazing ratio should, therefore, be limited to reduce winter heating and summer cooling loads in the main building, particularly in the southern and northern climates. In the analyses, it is difficult to determine an optimum glazing ratio for each climatic zone given all the various parameters and requirements such as lighting, view out and privacy. There is an argument for maximum glazing ratio for maximum natural light. This, however, seems fragile. The LT curves6 show that there is a threshold limit beyond which an increase in glazing ratio would only result in a very small saving in artificial lighting but cooling load increases substantially resulting in a nett increase in energy consumption. However, in modern commercial buildings where there are often high internal gains and lighting is the main cause of energy consumption, it may be preferable to increase the amount of glazing for daylight purposes but using high performance glazing to limit heat gain and loss.

true for summer when the atrium temperatures lower substantially due to heat transfer from the warmer atrium to the cooler main building. It, therefore, seems that the higher the glazing ratio, the smaller the temperature fluctuations in the atrium and the more acceptable is the atrium environment. The overall effect results in greater temperature swings in the main building further increasing its heating and cooling loads. In the southern climate, the reduction in glazing ratio results in very high summer atrium temperatures [Rg. 8]. This has further implications for roofing over an existing courtyard of a heavyweight building. It is generally acknowledged that some forms of temperature fluctuation are beneficial for thermal comfort (Givoni, 1976). However, great and rapid temperature swings cause discomfort and are subsequently more difficult to deal with. In cases where strictly controlled temperature swings are required in the main building, the use of a high glazing ratio would therefore seem to be even less beneficial. Furthermore, atria with temperature swings

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70 arq: Vol 1: spring 1996 environment

Southern climate Sjemi-iencl6sed iatriiin Nprtheirn cgmatfe Semi ii-enclqsed atrit

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JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC

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One interesting idea is to vary the amount of glazing according to the solar gains on the internal atrium facades. For example, areas of the facades at high level would require a smaller amount of glazing due to the increased amount of daylight and solar gain. The glazing ratio can be increased towards areas at the corners and at low level where daylight penetration and solar gain are often small due to self-shading from the main buildings [Fig. 10]. Thermal performance of the glazing can also be reduced accordingly.
Shading requirement The primary reason for solar shading is to provide thermal comfort by reducing unnecessary solar gain. Design parameters include orientation, sun path, sun angle, daylight transmission, ventilation, user control, maintenance and cost. All these parameters vary

according to the climatic characteristics and the functions of the spaces (Goulding, Lewis, Steemers, 1992). A common dilemma in shading of atria is whether to shade the atrium roof and external atrium glazing or the internal atrium facades [Fig. 11]. The justification for using either of the shading options is unlikely to be based on solar gain and daylight factors alone, the case may also be made on architectural or aesthetic reasons. In general, the most effective way to reduce solar gain to the atrium is to provide external shading to the atrium roof glazing and external atrium glazing. As a consequence, the overall daylight levels in the atrium and the main building are substantially reduced. Hence, this strategy is most appropriate in places where levels of solar radiation and daylight luminance are very high, i.e. the southern climate. In the southern climate, shading should primarily be concentrated on the roof due to the high angle sun. Opaque shading devices or egg-crate type shading may be used without reducing daylight transmission substantially. Alternatively, north-facing saw-tooth roof or clerestory roof lights can also be used. The analyses indicate that an extensive amount of shading is required to maintain the comfort temperatures in the south-facing exposed atria. The extra cost of such facades over the relatively small benefit of winter thermal buffering may prove to be a determining factor. In places where there are smaller risks of overheating in summer and lighting is the major cause of energy consumption, for example in office buildings in the northern climate, shading should be located outside the internal atrium facades only where overheating and glare due to direct sunlight may occur. Devices such as translucent retractable blinds positioned away from the occupants to reduce re-emission of heat and allowing diffuse daylight to enter the main building, may be used. This has the additional benefits of increased adaptability and individual user control. Performance glass with a high solar shading coefficient and daylight transmittance can then be used in the atrium roof glazing and external atrium glazing to compensate for the loss of solar protection in the atrium. In general, the analyses confirm that shading requirement increases towards the lower latitude. Shading requirements for centralised atria in the southern climate c a n be as much as three times more than those in a northern climate. Shading is also required for a much longer period of time in the southern climate. For semienclosed atria (type B), the proportional increments of shading requirements from winter to summer on the external vertical atrium glazing increase towards the high latitude locations [Fig. 12]. This is because the ratio of solar radiation on the vertical south-facing facades to the total solar radiation is greater in high latitude locations than in low latitude locations. This suggests that the flexibility of the shading devices should increase as the amount of external atrium glazing increases, particularly in the northern climate. Heavyweight versus lightweight enclosures Thermal mass determines the rate at which heat is absorbed or released from a material. It can assist in reducing indoor temperature swings and slow down a

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building's response to ambient temperature fluctuations, reducing daytime cooling and night-time heating depending on the climatic characteristics and the users. The choice of whether thermal mass or insulated panel is used often depends on whether collected solar heat is to be used to condition the atrium (Watson, Labs, 1983). In the northern and temperate climates, the use of thermal mass is considered to be less appropriate than well insulated panels, particularly in centralised atria where direct solar gain to the internal facades is limited. First, the time lag property of the thermal mass may result in a low utilisation of the winter solar gain. Second, the lack of solar radiation in winter makes the use of heavyweight construction as a storage element unreliable. Third, the warming up period is greater for heavyweight than lightweight construction. There will be less 'excess' heat for the main building to use. Fourth, well insulated panels have potentially higher radiant temperatures than masonry. Thermal mass does not influence spaces with continuous heating and occupancy periods. Thermal mass, however, can retain the heat but extend the warming up period in spaces with intermittent heating and occupancy periods. Hence, well insulated panels may be the most appropriate. For the continental climate, thermal mass can be used to reduce temperature fluctuations and to act as a solar collector. This thermal mass should be distributed in the floor and the south-facing internal facades of exposed atria which receive direct solar gain, while other internal facades can be of well insulated materials. In more enclosed and compact atria, lower thermal mass combined with suitable insulation properties will lead to a faster response which could be more useful on days with poor solar radiation. In addition, the use of an exposed slab soffit in the main building may be sufficient to reduce temperature swings and cooling loads. In the southern climate, heavyweight construction is most appropriate. Peak temperatures may be shifted from the early to the late afternoon after the occupied period. The atria will then become relatively cool during the day and warm during the night. Summer night-time ventilation may also be used to cool the thermal mass, leaving the atria relatively cool for the next morning. This consequently reduces the radiant temperature of the walls and a higher atrium temperature may, therefore, still be relatively comfortable. In most cases, night-time ventilation can be achieved using natural ventilation. In places which cannot normally be reached by simple ventilation openings, such as the central zones, plenums or mechanically driven ventilation can be used to direct air flow into the spaces [Fig. 13]. The plenums can be in the form of floor voids where the thermal mass of the exposed structural slabs absorbs heat and cools the incoming air further. On the whole, the analyses indicate that well-insulated internal atrium facades increase the atrium temperatures in summer. In the northern climate, the winter atrium temperatures lower, hence less heat is transmitted from the main building to the atrium. In the southern climate, the effect is negligible. Hence there is little benefit in using wellinsulated panels in atria in the southern climate. It must be emphasised that thermal mass is a very important element in any direct or passive solar collection

Atrium to building

Re-circulation

Building to atrium

Winter
Re-circulation

Mid-season
Building to atrium

Summer
Independent

16

Climatic responsive atrium design in Europe Dennis Ho

Northern climate

Temperate climate

o \

17

Continental dims te 12. Graph showing annual shading factor variations for centralised and semi-enclosed atria n the four climatic zones. 13. Cross section through an enclosed atrium showing how a plenum can be used to provide natural ventilation to central areas in

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Southern climate enclosed atria which cannot be reached by conventional techniques. 14. Bar chart showing annual heating and cooling loads for the different ventilation modes in the four climatic zones. 15. Schematic cross section showing ventilation modes for the northern, temperate and continental climates. 16. Schematic cross section showing ventilation modes for the southern climate 17. Schematic cross section showing diagrammatic regional models for the four climatic zones.

system such as an atrium. Although the ATRIUM model cannot examine the effect of thermal mass on atrium temperature in detail, it allows a simple and comparative analysis to be made. Other important factors to be considered when utilising thermal mass include the thermal capacity of the thermal mass, the strategic position and area of the mass, the amount and direction of air flow for night-time flushing, occupancy pattern and period. Ventilation coupling Different modes of ventilation coupling between the atrium and the main building may be used to optimise the thermal buffering of the atrium. To select an appropriate ventilation mode for the different seasons, one needs to consider the climate of the site, and the environmental criteria of the atrium and the main building (Baker, 1988). It is also important that openings be adjustable to vary the air flow

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Climatic responsive atrium design in Europe Dennis Ho

patterns and ventilation rates according to the comfort criteria. The energy analyses indicate that the most effective ventilation strategies for atrium buildings in the northern, temperate and continental climates (zones A, B and C) are similar [Fig. 14]. The greatest energy savings on the annual heating load of the main buildings can be made by using an atrium to main building ventilation strategy in winter when warm air in the atria is used to supplement heating in the main buildings [Fig. 15]. A re-circulation strategy can be used in autumn and spring where air is re-circulated from the atrium to the main building. The period when the re-circulation strategy can be used increases towards the high latitudes as the heating season for these locations is generally longer. Cooling load can be minimised by using partial re-circulation ventilation in summer when air from the main building is extracted through the atrium and exhausted to the outside through high level openings in the atrium roof. When the atrium temperature is much higher than the main building temperature, independent ventilation should be used to avoid mixing the warm atrium air with the cooler main building air. In a southern climate, the energy analyses indicate that the total annual heating and cooling loads for the atrium buildings are similar to buildings without atria. The major concern lies in the cooling of the atrium [Fig. 14]. In summer when daytime temperature is often well above body core temperature, ventilation should be minimised to keep the hot air out of the atrium. This certainly contradicts the increased amount of ventilation required to lower the atrium and main building temperatures. Hence, air conditioning will be required which in turn increases the energy consumption. In less extreme conditions, evaporative cooling can be achieved by placing water features outside the building to pre-cool incoming air. In addition, water features placed inside the atrium can reduce the atrium temperature and create a psychological cooling effect. Broadly speaking, the building to atrium ventilation mode is the most favourable for most of the year while the atrium to building ventilation mode may only be used for a much shorter period of time. In summer, the atrium and the

main building should be ventilated independently to avoid overheating [Fig. 16]. This clearly indicates that the advantages of atria as climate modifiers in the southern climate are significantly smaller than in the other three climatic zones. Regional models All the above analyses confirm that energy efficient atrium buildings are climatic responsive. Design parameters such as geometry and orientation of the atrium buildings, performance of the envelopes such as glazing ratio, shading strategy and thermal inertia, and ventilation strategy should vary according to the climatic characteristics and functional requirements, which in turn will influence the energy consumption of the building. Based on the analyses, general observations can be made on selected design elements for the four climatic zones. It must be stressed that the results are based on a limited number of tests and each model must also take into account factors such as rural or urban location, functional and aesthetic requirements. The four regional models are summarised in tables 1 to 5 [also see Fig. 17]. Conclusions The development of atrium buildings has so far been diversified and inspiring. A wide range of strategies is now available for the designers. In order to maximise the thermal buffering characteristics of atria, the designers must understand the local climatic conditions and how different atrium types respond to the climate. This in turn may generate true regional forms which bring the internal environment closer to nature. The current trend in atrium design tends toward a coherent approach that unites the buildings and the atria into single environmental systems. The building forms and fabric have to work much closer through the use of modern materials and analytical techniques. The choice of building envelope and ventilation strategies should therefore be carefully chosen according to the nature of the site and the environmental criteria. Only through this process of selection and adaptation can an energy efficient and climatic responsive atrium design be generated.

Atrium Type 1 Overheating in summer 2 Excessive heat loss in winter 3 Seasonal temperature fluctuations 4 Daily temperature fluctuations 5 Effect from external environment 6 Requirement for artificial lighting in main building 7 Requirement for shading 8 Total energy consumption (to achieve neutral temperature) 9 Summer temperature high 10 Winter temperature low 11 Points 12 Ranking

B .... .. .... .... .... .... * 35 4

D ....

F ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...

G . .. .. .. * .. ** 24 2 ( Low, High)

* .. 13 1

.... 48 5

... 30 3

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Atrium Type 1 Overheating in summer 2 Excessive heat loss in winter 3 Seasonal temperature fluctuations 4 Daily temperature fluctuations 5 Effect from external environment 6 Requirement for artificial lighting in main building 7 Requirement for shading 8 Total energy consumption (to achieve neutral temperature) 9 Summer temperature high 10 Winter temperature low 11 Points 12 Ranking

B .... .... .... .... ....

F ... ... ... ... ...

G ... ...

* .... .... ....

.....

** .. ... ... ..

.....

. 11 1

... 39 4 50 5

. .... 23 2 ( Low, . . . . . High)

27 3

Climatic responsive atrium design in Europe Dennis Ho

Atrium Type 1 Overheating in summer 2 Excessive heat loss in winter 3 Seasonal temperature fluctuations 4 Daily temperature fluctuations 5 Effect from external environment 6 Requirement for artificial lighting in main building 7 Requirement for shading 8 Total energy consumption (to achieve neutral temperature) 9 Summer temperature high 10 Winter temperature low 11 Points 12 Ranking ( Low, High)

12

36

48

28

24

Table 4: Zone D. Southern climate. Ranking of the different generic atrium types according to their atrium environments

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Atrium Type Overheating in summer Excessive heat loss in winter Seasonal temperature fluctuations Daily temperature fluctuations Effect from external environment Requirement for artificial lighting in main building Requirement for shading Total energy consumption (to achieve neutral temperature) Summer temperature high

A .. .... .

B .... .. .... .... .... .... .... ... .. 35 4

D .

F ... ... ..

. . .

G ... ... .. ** ... ... . 28 2 ( Low, High)

.....

. . .

. .

.. .... 18 1

..... ..... . 42 5

**

. . . . . .

10 Winter temperature low 11 Points 12 Ranking

26 3

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Table 5: Characteristics of the different atrium design elements in the four climatic zones
1 Location 2 Latitude 3 Zone 4 Climate 5 Form Kew 5128' Mid European coastal Mild winter, mild summer Elongated centralised linear South Stockholm 5921' North European coastal Cold winter, long mild summer Elongated centralised or linear attached South avoid extensive vertical glazing Stuttgart 4850' Continental Cold winter, hot summer Elongated centralised linear South avoid vertical glazing Milan 4526' Southern and Mediterranean Mild winter, hot summer Compact centralised linear: long axis east/west South avoid extensive horizontal glazing. Minimum glazing on east, west, north sides Taller atrium shaded by building Heavy-weight construction minimum openings Thermal mass No south glazing, use north-facing clerestory or monitor roofs External shading on vertical and horizontal planes Use translucent and opaque materials Ventilation pre-heating in winter

6 Orientation

7 Proportion
Climatic responsive atrium design in Europe Dennis Ho 8

Separating skins

Medium height for solar penetration Medium-weight insulated panels Thermal mass South facing sloped roof

Shallow atrium for more solar penetration Light-weight to mediumweight insulated panels Thermal mass South facing steeply sloped roof Internal shading to main building Use clear glass

g External envelope 10 Roof

Medium height for solar penetration Heavy-weight construction or medium-weight insulated panels Thermal mass South facing sloped roof

11 Shading devices

Internal shading on vertical planes

12 Natural light quality

Use clear glass or translucent materials 13 Ventilation Recirculation in winter, Independent mode in independent mode in summer, ventilation summer pre-heating mode in spring and autumn Auxiliary and ventilation 14 Heating

in winter, independent mode in summer, recirculation mode in spring and autumn Auxiliary & ventilation

External shading on vertical and horizontal planes Use clear glass or translucent materials Ventilation pre-heating winter, independent mode for other seasons

Auxiliary and ventilation

Not necessary unless

Notes
1. The LT Method is a manual energy design tool for the calculation of energy performance in non-domestic buildings. It was developed by Cambridge Architectural Research Ltd., Cambridge. 2. The ATRIUM model was developed by the Martin Centre, University of Cambridge. It is not a dynamic model and it responds to various parameters with certain limitations. The parameters include the simplified nature of the site, the rectilinear shape of the atrium and its relationship to the main building, the nature of the atrium and building envelope, the nature of the separating walls, and various modes of ventilation exchange between the atrium and the main building. Furthermore, the model does not respond to the detailed geometry, such as curve, of the building, orientations other than south and non-south, the use of thermal mass, detailed configuration of the roof and complicated external obstructions. It is intended primarily for unheated atria. The reader should be aware that the results are based on monthly average figures and there is no vertical and horizontal atrium temperature distribution. Certain assumptions are therefore made in order to simplify the calculations. The importance, however, lies in the principles involved and the relative performance of the alternatives rather than actual predictions. 3. The assumed values have been chosen to correspond to the following criteria : The building is medium size, non-domestic with average internal gains, occupied during normal working hours and weekdays only. The base case has a plan of 24m x 24m square plot and of three storeys high in a suburban site, free from external obstruction.

The building envelope has a high standard of insulation and a relatively high glazing ratio with the minimum external and internal shading except that provided by the building structure. The main building has a base temperature of 18.5C. The atrium has minimum internal obstruction. The roof of the atrium is assumed to be flat. Independent ventilation for the atrium and the building is assumed. 4. For the purpose of the analyses, criteria based on the neutral temperature of the atrium, the temperature at which most people feel comfortable under sedentary conditions, are used. The reason for using temperature criteria rather than energy criteria is because energy is always consumed to maintain thermal comfort conditions in the atrium. The aim is, therefore, to maintain the neutral temperatures with minimum energy consumption in the atrium and the main building. The following equation from M. A. Humphreys is used in order to calculate the required monthly neutral temperatures in the four climatic zones (Humphreys, 1971). T neutral = 11.9 + 0.534 x T ambient (+/- 2.5C ) T ambient is the mean monthly outdoor temperature. The +/-2.5C indicates the temperature zone over which 80% of people judge to b e between 'comfortably cool' and 'comfortably warm'. 5. See Baker, Nick (1988). 'The Atrium Environment1, Building Technical File, no.21, April 1988. 6. See note 1 above.

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References
Baker, Nick (1992). Design Parameters and Performance: A Technical Design Guide for Low Energy Non-Domestic Buildings. Unpublished paper, BRECSU. Baker, Nick (1991). The LT Method, version 1.2, CEC, DirectorateGeneral XII for Science, Research and Development. Baker, Nick (1988). 'The Atrium Environment', Building Technical Hie, no.21, The Martin Centre for Architectural and Urban Studies, University of Cambridge, April 1988. Baker, N., and Hawkes, D. (1987) 'Glazed Courtyards : an Element of the Low Energy City' in Energy and Urban Built Form, Hawkes, D., and Owers, J. (eds.), Butterworths, London. Givoni, B. (1976). Man, Climate and Architecture, 2nd edition, Applied Science Publishers Ltd., London. Goulding, J., Lewis, O.J., Steemers, T.C. (eds.)(1992). Energy in Architecture, The European Passive Solar Handbook, CEC, B.T. Batsford Ltd., London.

Humphreys, M. A. (1971). Theoretical and Practical Aspects of Thermal Comfort, BRE current papers, 14/71, Garston, UK. Olygag, Vincent (1963). Design With Climate, Princeton University Press, Princeton. Watson, D., and Labs, K. (1983). Climate Design, McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York.Titled File for the diagrams.

Acknowledgements
This paper is based on research undertaken in 1992-93 for a Master of Philosophy degree at the University of Cambridge. Financial support for this was given by the Architects Registration Council of the United Kingdom, the Eastern Region Energy Group and the Kettle's Yard Fund.

Biography
Dennis Ho is an architect working with Richard Rogers Partnership in London.

Climatic responsive atrium design in Europe Dennis Ho

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