Wednesday, 26 August 2015


It is a common misconception prevailing in the minds of builder and owners that the more exotic the materials are used for construction, the more attractive and longer lasting the structures would remain. Even when the locally available materials are used, the built structures will display the strength and long endurable vitality. They could easily withstand climatic extremities of that particular region and the building also looks perfectly coalesced one with the surrounding ambience.

It is quite common to find sea facing buildings showing signs of premature ageing, the window frames corroded, walls darkened, the paint peeling off because of the high levels of salt content. Climate has a very important role to play in the maintenance of buildings. The type of materials used, the method of construction opted shall determine the health of a building. 

Local materials like sand and stone are normally structured to suit the climate conditions of the place. Hence, when buildings are constructed using locally available materials, invariably the structures display the strength to withstand the extremes of climate in that particular region. In such cases, climatic erosion of building will be very least.

The type of architecture of a place too reflects an adherene to this climatic factors as buildings have to be naturally adapted to tackle extremes of climate in the absence of artificial means of support. Thus a cold place would reflect more or wood based structures to retain the warmth, a more tropical climate would display high ceilings to eliminate the circulation of hot air.

Currently buildings use materials as well as designs that are based more on styles suited to taste than to the local climate. For instance, the typical Kerala architecture encompasses slopping roofs and wide corridors to tackle the heavy rains. However, the modern structures do not display such conformity with local requirements.

Similarly, the stones used in some of the old buildings in Mumbai have withstood the test of time as well as climate. The same cannot be said of the more current buildings where locally available materials have not been used. Again, the locally available laterite stones in Mangalore are best suited to tackle the heavy rains and the sea in the coastal belt, but how many local buildings use it, is a totally different question. 

To avoid such mismatch and the resulting problems, it is best to go in for structures that are inherently suited to local climatic conditions. However, there are materials like steel which every modern building cannot dispense with irrespective of its location. While steel does not get corroded easily, it is important to go in for the right type of steel which is treated for anti corrosive properties to be used in coastal areas, as otherwise it can prove to be risky for the buildings. Similarly, non-ferrous materials like aluminium, polymer and wood should be used in coastal areas to prevent rusting. Wood, when seasoned well, can withstand the worst of climates. Of course the wood used here should be stable wood. 

Hollow bricks or terra-cotta blocks are a good option for a hot place as the hollow space aids in keeping the structure cool contrary to popular belief, these blocks are strong, they don’t need to be plastered and what is more, these blocks don’t chip. The Mangalore clay tiles are also very effecting in keeping out the heat and hence highly suited for hot regions. Stones are a good option in hot places as well as coastal regions. Stones, besides keeping out the heat, need low maintenance. They are capable of withstanding extremes of climate.

Traditionally buildings were structures in such a way that the main wall or entrance was away from direct sunlight. This way, the interiors remained cooler. The thickness of the walls too ensured minimal transfer of heat. However, with structures now sporting thinner walls and the building conforming more to the fa├žade than the direction of the sun, it is not surprising to find less naturally cool interiors.

Modern building also sport more of glass walls than brick structures. If these glass walls face the South or West, the building is sure to heat up. The situation is worse if glass walls face south west as the maximum heat is from this direction. Bricks, terracotta tiles and stones are best suited to insulate the building from heat.

Another factor that leads to overhealing of interiors is the absence of sunshades for windows. Traditional buildings not only used less of glass but the windows too sported wooden doors protected by sunshades. These sunshades not only acted as shields from the sun but also kept out the rain. These recessed windows were marvelous protectors from the harsh climate.

While it is best to use locally available materials and conform to local architecture to reap the maximum benefit in terms of climate tolerance, it is not feasible to do so at all times as other factors such as lifestyle, the use the building is to be put to have a say in the design. It is then best to compromise in a manner that the building continues to be climate friendly albeit the modern design and this compromise can be achieved by opting for local materials wherever possible and arriving at a design that is sensitive to local conditions.

Windows now-a-days perform multifashion functions. Their basic shapes have changed considerably, breaking the conventional usage and encompassing all the sides and also on the ceilings towards the clouds sky and nature. From angles to arches, skylights to sliding glass doors, the window accessories cover virtually every size, shape and type of window. Naturally some materials are more flexible than others, so one has to make sure that any fusion of modern fashion appealing to the eye all could accommodate the shape of the window. Immediately after selecting any attractive window shape for the house, one can select from the available innumerable fashions for that shape and operational application. Some skylight systems are manual or motorized lifting systems specifically manufactured for rectangular windows and especially suited for skylights. 


Skylights are a type of window that is built into the roof that provides a natural light source for a room. A skylight is mounted parallel to the place of the roof and is much more effective at adding natural light to a room than a window is. In most cases, the sole purpose of the skylight is to provide more light, however some skylights also open to provide ventilation. Skylights give your room a beautifully natural look.

Skylights are available in a variety of sizes that will easily integrate your ceiling and roof construction. The increase in natural light can help decrease your over all energy costs. Skylights that open up can also provide ventilation in rooms that may not be well-ventilated.

Skylights must be located where the sun can shine on them directly. A skylight does not produce a useful amount of daylight if it is shades by adjacent structures or foliage. Similarly, skylights are not worthwhile in areas that have heavy cloud cover for a large period of time.

In single-floor buildings, skylights may provide a large fraction of illumination requirements. Sunlight is so intense that skylights can provide virtually any illumination level that is required. These are agencies which specialize in skylights. You can even get them custom fabricated.

Skylights are commonly made from glass, glass composites, plastics and plastic composites. All these materials can be treated to reduce light transmission and cooling load, either by adding dyes that absorb light or by adding a reflective surface. The advantages of glass include unlimited life, high light transmission, hardness and rigidity.

While fixing a skylight, always get edges of skylights sealed very well with silicon to ensure no seepage of rain water. The skylight must have a proper slope and must not be flat, to ensure good drainage of water. Have other large windows in the room and ensure that the room has good ventilation to prevent a heat trap. It is preferable to have skylights in common areas where you don’t spend too much time and not in the bedroom as you won’t have privacy. The glass must be toughened so that it is shatter-proof.

The disadvantage of glass is its vulnerability to breakage, along with the safety hazard that falling glass creates. Glass can be made more resistant to breakage by increasing its thickness, by heat treating it, and by combining it with reinforcing materials. All safety improvements for glass add cost, and they usually add weight. Plastic materials are much lighter in weight, and they are resistant to shattering, so they pose only a minimal safety hazard. If you find the room gets too hot in the afternoon, simply install a set of Venetian blinds or other adjustable window covering over the skylight opening.

1 comment:

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