The Animation of the Weather as a Means of Sustaining Building Occupants and the Natural Environment

By Kevin Nute, Aaron Weiss, Jagdeep Kaur-Bala and Richard Marrocco.

Published by The International Journal of Environmental Sustainability

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Many of the indoor spaces where most people now spend the majority of their time inadvertently deprive them of contact with two key requirements for their long-term well-being—nature and change. With the aim of improving the health and effectiveness of people in buildings at the same time as helping to sustain the natural environment, the research presented examines the feasibility of using the movements of the sun, wind and rain to naturally animate building interiors via passive energy and rainwater saving techniques that rely on the same natural elements. Explorations in a series of architectural design studios indicate that simple strategies for bringing the natural movements of the weather indoors are compatible with a range of proven passive energy and rainwater saving techniques, offering a potential means of raising public awareness of these important, but currently underused sustainable practices. The authors found that one such combination—wind-animated indoor daylighting—had a calming effect on building occupants, and attentional tests indicated that its natural movement also seemed to be less distracting than artificially generated change. Although further testing is needed, initial results suggest that weather-generated indoor animation could be helpful in reducing stress in building occupants at the same time as increasing the visibility of passive energy and rainwater saving in buildings, but its calming effect may also act to lower occupant alertness.

Keywords: Weather-generated Natural Indoor Animation, Building Occupant Stress, Alertness and Attention, Visibility of Passive Energy and Rainwater Saving Techniques

The International Journal of Environmental Sustainability, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp.27-40. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.994MB).

Prof. Kevin Nute

Professor of Architecture, Department of Architecture, University of Oregon, Eugene, USA

Kevin Nute’s research focuses on the visual qualities of built environments that resonate across cultures, in particular manifestations of time. He teaches architectural design and courses in spatial ordering, architectural typology, time responsive building design, and Japanese architecture and aesthetics. He is currently researching the natural animation of indoor spaces as part of a forthcoming book Living Space: Animating Buildings with the Sun, Wind and Rain, work that began in 2005/6 when he was a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Research Fellow at the University of Tokyo.

Aaron Weiss

University of Oregon, San Francisco, USA

Aaron Weiss received his Masters of Architecture degree from the University of Oregon in 2010. He is currently working towards his professional license at Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Jagdeep Kaur-Bala

Instructor, Department of Psychology, University of Oregon, Eugene, USA

Jagdeep K. Bala is an Instructor of Cognitive Neuropsychology at the Dept. of Psychology, University of Oregon. Her research has focused on studying mechanisms underlying perceptual awareness and attentional processes in the brain.

Richard Marrocco

Emeritus Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Oregon, Eugene, USA

Richard Marrocco is an Emeritus Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience. His current interests focus on the effects of naturalistic environments on sustained attention and cognitive function. In addition, he has long-standing interests in cognitive neuroscience of attention, including the physiological and neurochemical mechanisms underlying visual attention, and the genetic defects that cause attention deficits.