Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 31464
Courtyard Evolution in Contemporary Sustainable Living

Authors: Yiorgos Hadjichristou


The paper will focus on the strategic development deriving from the evolution of the traditional courtyard spatial organization towards a new, contemporary sustainable way of living. New sustainable approaches that engulf the social issues, the notion of place, the understanding of weather architecture blended together with the bioclimatic behavior will be seen through a series of experimental case studies in the island of Cyprus, inspired and originated from its traditional wisdom, ranging from small scale of living to urban interventions. Weather and nature will be seen as co-architectural authors with architects. Furthermore, the building will be seen not as an object but rather as a vessel of human activities. This will further enhance the notion of merging the material and immaterial, the built and unbuilt, subject-human, and the object-building. This eventually will enable to generate the discussion of the understanding of the building in relation to the place and its inhabitants, where the human topography is more important than the material topography. The specificities of the divided island and the dealing with sites that are in vicinity with the diving Green Line will further trigger explorations dealing with the regeneration issues and the social sustainability offering unprecedented opportunities for innovative sustainable ways of living. Opening up a discourse with premises of weather-nature, materialimmaterial, human-material topographies in relation to the contested sites of the borders will lead us to develop innovative strategies for a profound, both technical and social sustainability, which fruitfully yields to innovative living built environments, responding to the ever changing environmental and social needs. As a starting point, a case study in Kaimakli in Nicosia, a refurbishment with an extension of a traditional house, already engulfs all the traditional/ vernacular wisdom of the bioclimatic architecture. The project focusses on the direct and quite obvious bioclimatic features such as south orientation and cross ventilation. Furthermore, it tries to reinvent the adaptation of these parameters in order to turn the whole house to a contemporary living environment. In order to succeed this, evolutions of traditional architectural elements and spatial conditions are integrated in a way that does not only respond to some certain weather conditions, but they integrate and blend the weather within the built environment. A series of innovations aiming at maximum flexibility is proposed. The house can finally be transformed into a winter enclosure, while for the most part of the year it turns into a ‘camping’ living environment. Parallel to experimental interventions in existing traditional units, we will proceed examining the implementation of the same developed methodology in designing living units and complexes. Malleable courtyard organizations that attempt to blend the traditional wisdom with the contemporary needs for living, the weather and nature with the built environment will be seen tested in both horizontal and vertical developments. Social activities are seen as directly affected and forged by the weather conditions thus generating a new social identity of people where people are directly involved and interacting with the weather. The human actions and interaction with the built, material environment in order to respond to weather will be seen as the result of balancing the social with the technological sustainability, the immaterial, and the material aspects of the living environment.

Keywords: Building as a verb, contemporary living, traditional bioclimatic wisdom, weather architecture.

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