Culturally sensitive and climate-adapted buildings based on expertise in hygrothermal design
The construction sector in China is booming – not surprising given that the frenzied activity on building sites all over China is one of the key factors in the nation’s continuing economic growth. This trend has been unbroken for many years: The rate at which new buildings are rising up out of the ground is unequalled anywhere else in the world. As far as the technical aspects of their design are concerned, they differ from standard practice in Germany in at least two major respects:
- Due to the immense scale and pace of urbanization in China, urban development is extremely dense. In other words, both residential and office buildings are being constructed as multi-story structures, in close proximity to one another. This can be both an advantage and a disadvantage in terms of energy efficiency. For while increased density allows for the creation of shared infrastructures, it also limits the space available for local power generation. Consequently, many of the tried-and-tested solutions widely utilized in Germany are impracticable in China, because there is not enough room to install the necessary renewable energy systems. Geothermal systems require a large area of open land adjacent to the building, and thermal solar collectors and photovoltaic cells require a large roof surface.
- Whereas Germany and much of the rest of Europe lies within a single climate zone, China extends across numerous geographical regions with widely varying climates. This means that building products and architectural concepts developed for use in Europe cannot be transferred one-to-one. To what extent do they meet the requirements of different climates and cultures? That question needs to be examined each time. An added factor is the need for products and design concepts fit for a future in which sustainability is increasingly a gage of quality.Over the past few years, the Hygrothermics department has been involved in numerous industrial projects – together with other departments of Fraunhofer IBP – that have enriched its understanding of climate-adapted architecture and the requirements of the East Asian market. This experience has repeatedly brought to light new questions that have enabled the institute to develop new solutions to add to its portfolio.
Demand for solutions of this type is particularly high in China, as demonstrated by the attendance figures for the first BAU Congress China in Beijing in 2014 and the first WUFI® seminars in Shanghai.
The number of visitors to the exhibition and participants in the congress program surpassed all expectations.