Fair Conditioning Sustainability in Vernacular and Historic Architecture – Fair Conditioning

Sustainability in Vernacular and Historic Architecture




History of Architecture


Materials & Methods in Building Construction

Academic Year

2'nd Year

Complexity Level


Content tags

Passive Design Principles


Sustainable Building Design


Vernacular Architecture

Activity Type

Site Visit

Activity duration

1-2 days


Objective:  To learn to look holistically at design, materials and construction techniques including physical, mental and emotional well being in an older building/s that has/have withstood the test of time in their climate suitability. 

Outcome: Students will learn to develop varied perspectives around design and planning, passive design elements, suitability of building materials considering the properties, climatic zone, local socio-cultural context, historical precedence and availability of materials. 

Requirements: Sketchbook, Pencil and Pen


  • Selection of building/structures
  1. Old houses – Vernacular Architecture of the region
  2. Old heritage structure – Historic Architecture

It would be ideal if the building is still in use and visited, for which prior permissions are acquired. 

  • Reading and secondary research of the same buildings.
  • Basic knowledge on building materials, passive design and climatic zones


Step 1: Students will visit both the sites, guided by the teacher, particularly prompting their observation on various aspects of the design. 

Step 2: Some of the guiding observations can be:

  • Scale and proportion – space sizes 
  • Response of it with the natural elements such as Sunlight, wind, land topography, water
  • Wall, roof, floor typologies – Materials, thickness, height
  • Fenestration (Window, door) details, Size, Positioning and shading of the openings
Sr.NoElementBuilding material usedDetails
Distinguishing featureSuitability for Climatic
Thermal comfort level
1.WallBurnt clay brick450 mm thick wall (Brick sizes), Lime plasterThick walls, cool surfacesYes, the skill is a challenge as it is dyingVery comfortable (or Rating)

Step 3: Observe the Passive design principles involved in both the structures

Step 4: Explore the structure sensorially, by touching, feeling, accessing one’s own well being and experience in it. 

Step 5: Reflect on the question: “How sustainable and ecologically sensitive, climate responsive building/structure is it?” Share the reflections with others. 

Step 6: Identify current availability of material. If not available, what alternatives materials can be used that have the same properties as that material.

Reference: https://www.teachengineering.org/activities/view/a_house_for_me

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