Literature case study - Igloo


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Literature case study of Igloos
Climate Responsive Architecture
Acharya's NRV School of Architecture

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Literature case study - Igloo

  1. 1. Vernacular Architecture Naina Deshmukh Class 2010 Acharya’s NRV School of Architecture
  2. 2.  Vernacular architecture stems from the belief that architecture is a balanced combination of logical knowledge, divine inspiration and common sense.  It is the pure response to a particular person’s or society’s building needs. It fulfils these needs because it is crafted by the individual and society it is in.  The building methods are tested through trial-and-error by the society of which they are built until their building methods near perfection (over time) and are tailored to the climatic, aesthetic, functional, and sociological needs of their given society.
  3. 3.  Vernacular architecture widely varies from the spectacular Mayan Tikal and Machu Picchu temples to humble dwellings like the African tree-houses and the Native American log cabin.  The igloos of the Inuit (Greenland), rondavels of South Africa, tin-and-thatch houses of Togo, yurts of Mongolia, and the Bedouin tents are other classic examples of vernacular dwellings.  Interestingly, public utility buildings like granaries, fortifications and religious institutions are more frequent vernacular structures than residential homes.  Most of these practices and ideas make the vernacular seem exclusive to the realm of the exotic and the distant. Yet, in the light of the truth, this type of architecture not only is the most widespread way to build, but indeed most of us were likely raised in vernacular homes, given that atleast 90% of the world’s architecture is vernacular.
  4. 4.  Local designs evolve in compliance with the economic feasibility, topography and climate. Indigenous materials are employed to create distinctive residences that merge with the surrounding landscape. Even the interior spaces are decorated in a fashion that evokes Nature.  With swelling populations, unstable ecology and economic worries hitting hard, numerous architects around the world are increasingly looking towards sustainable solutions. They attempt to blend modern architectural theories to vernacular building cultures and often come up with strikingly surprising innovations. The resultant is humane and ecologically sound buildings.
  5. 5.  Tundra is land where it is too cold for trees to grow. Because trees cannot grow on this land, which is frozen solid for all but a few months of the year, lumber is in very short supply.  Farming is also impossible in the frozen ground, although some grasses and mosses do grow in the summer months.  As a result, the Inuit people had to travel from season to season, following their animal food sources.  In the summer, when the snow melted, Inuit lived in tent-like huts made of animal skins stretched over a frame. In the winter months, they depend on ice-fishing to sustain themselves, which meant that they needed temporary winter housing: igloos.
  6. 6.  "Inuit" means "the people" in the Inuktitut language of northern Canada.  They are a group of culturally similar, nomadic and indigenous people inhabiting the Arctic regions of Alaska, Canada, and Greenland -moving between summer/winter camps to hunt.  The Inuit and their Thule ancestors have lived in the eastern Arctic for approximately 1000 years.  First European encounter was with Vikings in the 13th century. Norse settlements failed due to fighting with 'small people‘  Ravaged by disease in the 19thcentury  Until the last century, igloos were built by native people of northern Canada and Russia. Today, these parts of Canada are called Labrador, Quebec and the Northwest Territories. Igloos were also built by people in northern Alaska. For each of these locations, the people had a different name.
  7. 7.  The Inuit are traditionally hunters and fishermen.  Strong gender role component – but not absolute.  Family and community are very important.  Traditional storytelling, mythology, and dancing remain important parts of the culture.  The Inuit lived in an environment that inspired a mythology filled with shamanism and animist principles.  Although Inuit life has changed significantly over the past century, many traditions continue.  The Inuktitut language is still spoken in many areas of the Arctic and is common on radio and in television programming.
  8. 8.  The Eskimos traditionally had three types of houses:  A summer house, which was basically a tent  A winter house, which was usually partially dug into the ground and covered with earth;  A snow or ice house. A dome-shaped dwelling constructed of blocks of snow placed in an ascending spiral with a low tunnel entrance. Although it can provide adequate protection for weeks in severe cold, it was used almost exclusively as a temporary shelter while travelling.  Igloos have remained a functional part of their cultural heritage.  The principles of design have been adopted by the Armed Forces and explorers alike.
  9. 9.  Caribou, seal, polar bear hide  Snow  Whale bone  Stone  Wood
  10. 10.  Snow is a form of precipitation within the Earth's atmosphere in the form of crystalline water ice, consisting of snowflakes that fall from clouds. Since snow is composed of small ice particles, it is a granular material.  Types of snow can be designated by the shape of the flakes, the rate of accumulation, and the way the snow collects on the ground.  The intensity of snowfall is determined by visibility.
  11. 11.  There are three traditional types of igloos, all of different sizes and all used for different purposes.  The smallest  constructed as a temporary shelter, usually only used for one or two nights. These were built and used during hunting trips, often on open sea ice.  Intermediate-sized igloos  for semi-permanent, family dwelling. This was usually a single room dwelling that housed one or two families. Often there were several of these in a small area, which formed an Inuit village.  The largest igloos  normally built in groups of two. One of the buildings was a temporary structure built for special occasions, the other built nearby for living. These might have had up to five rooms and housed up to 20 people. A large igloo might have been constructed from several smaller igloos attached by their tunnels, giving common access to the outside. These were used to hold community feasts and traditional dances.
  12. 12.  The Inuit designed the igloo to be warm, sturdy and easy to construct. All it takes is a few simple tools and an abundance of snow. The experienced igloo builder can put one together in as little as one hour. Novice igloo builders can expect it to take an average of three to six hours.  Building materials:  Snow  Tools used:  Saw/ large knife
  13. 13.  Snow has an excellent insulative property.  A well-constructed igloo, coupled with a very small oil lamp and plain old body heat, can warm an igloo up to 40 degrees above the outside temperature.  It accomplishes this amazing feat thanks to several features:  The walls block the bitter wind  Snow and ice work as insulators to trap body heat inside the igloo. Thus, the occupants of an igloo double as a furnace of sorts.  Insulation capabilities actually increase a few days after construction. Body heat and sun exposure cause the inside of the igloo to melt ever so slightly. When the igloo is unoccupied during hunting expeditions, the melted snow freezes over, turning into ice. Several days of gradual thawing and refreezing turns the entire structure to solid ice, making it not only super strong, but also warmer than ever.
  14. 14.  Thermal conductivity of snow compared with that of various other insulating materials: Density gm / cubic cm Porosity per cent air Thermal conductivity Snow 0.39 57.5 6.4 0.28 69.5 2.49 0.14 84.7 1.52 Brick - - 1.5 Dry soil - - 3.3 Saw dust - - 1.2 Rock wool - - 0.94
  15. 15.  The igloo does, in fact, melt inside, but not to a great extent.  The snowflakes falling outside of the igloo, in the harsh Alaskan winter, quickly melt when they land on its roof, and provide a replacement layer of insulation for the igloo.  The ongoing freezing and re-freezing of the igloo, hardens it and transforms the blocks of snow the Eskimos used in the construction process into a solid, icy, domed refuge.  The igloo can now withstand the weight of a massive polar bear, should one happen along and have the urge to play "king of the mountain."
  16. 16.  The primary use for an igloo was to serve as the winter camp for a group of travelling families.  Some igloos would house only a single hunter or a small group of hunters or fishermen, while larger igloos could serve as community meeting centres--or even wrestling halls.  During the summer, the people would travel to a summer camp, and live in tents made of animal skins. However, an igloo actually provides much better insulation than an animal-skin tent, and so it works better for cold-weather camping.  The food gathered during the winter would be stored in small snow mounds outside the igloo.
  17. 17.  Optimization through the application of a double curved surface.  Climatic responsiveness  Structural efficiency  Efficiency in construction  Functional requirements  Cultural and commercial requirements  The spherical shape is not dictated by aesthetics but by the rough polar climate.  The surface area to volume ratio of a sphere is much lower than that of a cube of the same volume. A rectangular building of the same volume has 25% more surface area. Since the majority of a building’s energy losses and unwanted gains are through the surface material, a spherical shape can translate into drastic reductions in transfer of heat.
  18. 18.  A few other snow shelters to be noted are:  Snow walls  Snow trench  Snow mounds / Quinzhees  Snow caves  Crevasses
  19. 19.  After World War II, the Inuit way of life greatly changed. The outside world became much more interested in the Arctic, and set up military bases and radar stations in the region.  All of the travel into the tundra meant that more permanent building materials and jobs were available, and so few Inuit still use igloos today.  However, other parts of the Inuit culture, including mythology, storytelling, and the use of native languages continue to thrive in the tundra.
  20. 20.  It should also be kept in mind that vernacular architecture can be overtly romanticized with a tendency to ignore the multiple inconveniences and discomforts.  But, the challenge lies in finding befitting architectural solutions that advantageously blend empirical science with native traditions, in order to come up with an impeccable masterpiece.  Modern architects have been successful, time and again, in building exquisite organic architectural designs that are inspired from the earthy vernacular traditions in architecture.
  21. 21.  Douglas Wilkinson, 1949   This classic short film shows how to make an igloo using only snow and a knife.  Nanook of the north, 1922  This silent film by Robert J Flaherty is considered to be the first ever feature length documentary.
  22. 22.  Structural and thermal characteristics of snow shelters  Robert W. Elmer and William O. Pruitt, Jr. • Field manual of U.S. antarctic program   How warm is an igloo  Rich Holihan, Dan Keeley, Daniel Lee, Powen Tu, Eric Yang  BEE 453 Spring 2003  Library of Congress  Prints and Photographs  Frank E. Kleinschmidt
  23. 23.  National Earth Science Teachers’ Association   Library and Archives Canada   Climate and global dynamics   Inuit: People of the Arctic  John Tyman  Bill Hilman’s EduTech Research Project  Brandon University, Canada
  24. 24. I would like to express my gratitude to all those who have extended their support and guidance for the study. My heartfelt thanks to Mr. Ashutosh Sharma, IISc Bangalore, for being a great source of inspiration and for his enthusiastic support.