The History of Environmental Design

The classic design of any building or property will always consider the environment. For example, beach houses will have a different foundation than a simple apartment complex, and these differences can often be as small as the materials used for the building, or as large as the actual design of the structure.

But all of these fall under one banner: environmental design. It’s the reason many precise measurements of land need to be taken, why you should hire a grader and other machinery to level the field or plot, and even right down to the orientation of the building itself. Knowing all of these factors is the key to getting your project environmentally designed.

It started with the old civilizations

The first time anyone has heard of an environmental design was during the time of the Ancient Greeks around 500 BC. It is when the Greeks faced a seasonal problem: the lack of warmth during winter. Since their cities were often too big to sustain fuel production throughout the season, their architects needed to get creative with how they can heat their houses during the cold months.

Their solution: calculating the placement of the sun via the seasons and building houses oriented to take advantage of that during the winter. Greek houses were built facing the south, which would receive almost no sun during the summer, but was ideal for capturing the precious solar energy during the cold months.

The Romans continued this practice and added a few more touches of their own. Aside from applying the south-facing principle to their houses, they also did it to public spaces, such as bathhouses and government offices. With the invention of glass, they finally found a material that can let much-needed heat in and keep it there, without sacrificing the need for natural lighting.

Contemporary environmental designs

green buildings

Today, our buildings are more sophisticated than the ones available a long time ago, but they still draw on concepts and ideas discovered in the past. For example, the grid-like pattern that most major cities have is heavily inspired by the Greco-Roman practice of south-facing buildings. And with the newest challenges presented by massive urbanization, modern designers needed to be a little more creative.

Visionaries spearheaded the way people thought of architecture, seeing the ideas as potential grounds for improving the way we build and making our buildings more harmonious with the nature that surrounded them.

The benefits this approach had were obvious: It left less to do for the workers; therefore, avoiding waste of time, resources, and manpower. It maximized the placement of each building in its relative space and provided a comfortable place for the people that occupy the building.

Looking forward to the future, we can see that the designs of our buildings are leaning even heavier into this design philosophy, fully blending in the practical needs of a dwelling with the environmentally conscious framework that has characterized our needs today. Indeed, one of the most important things environmental design has taught us is that working with our environment can have more benefits than simply mastering it.

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