Hot, Humid Architecture
In vernacular architecture there is a strong relationship between site, climate, and the elements of building in the generation of the building form.- Richard Hyde
Prior to the advent of air conditioning, an understanding of local environments enabled southerners to build in ways that buffered the harsh climatic realities. As Europeans moved to the southern colonies it typically took them a generation to adapt their native architecture to the climatic conditions of the region. Five lessons they learned are equally important today.
- Houses one room thick maximized cross ventilation. The thin plans also provided ample light that prohibited mold growth in dark areas.
- The best orientation of this thin plan was east to west to reduce solar gain. The windows were located to catch the prevailing summer breezes.
- Large porches or verandas were always located on the southern side and often on the east and west, too. The verandas protected the house from both the sun and the rain, provided circulation, and created a cool place to sit and sleep in the summertime.
- High ceilings allowed the heat to rise and provided a more comfortable environment.
- By raising the houses off the ground several things were accomplished; it allowed the first floor to be out of the flood plain in coastal areas; breezes are better on the raised first floor; and air circulating under the house helped reduce the heat gain.