Designing with Wind: Architecture’s Model Environments

Venti: Air, Experience, Aesthetics
Issue: Wind, Vol 2, issue 3, Summer 2023
Link to Article

Architects are skilled at representing building material assemblies, but their skillsets for representing environmental systems such as air movement are limited to either static environmental diagrams or complex digital simulations. Neither static diagrams nor digital simulations represent wind as a graspable, experiential, moving material system. This  essay and supporting photographs and videos present a third technique for visualising and designing with wind: using physical environmental models, which incorporate moving air and water to make airflow materially tangible and therefore consequential to the design process. Environmental models build on the lineage of engineering experimentation devices—such as wind tunnels and water tables—which simulate airflow at scale. However, unlike engineering devices, the prototypes featured here are more qualitative than quantitative, and the lessons they offer about environmental exchange extend beyond the testing bed, traversing scales from the detail to the body to the building to the world.