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At the most basic level, wind is the result of the interaction between a zone of high pressure and a zone of low pressure to create natural movement of air. In order to stabilize the environment, air flows from the area of high pressure to balance out the neighboring low pressure. [1] On a local scale, wind can result from rapid collapse of thunderstorms or differential heating of land and water (source of “sea breezes”). Wind is an interesting weather phenomenon due to its lack of physical appearance. It is an invisible force that can only be seen through its effects—for example, visually through swaying trees, tactilely through the ruffling of one’s hair, even audibly through the rustling of leaves. Wind can be short lived or constant, gentle or deadly depending on its source. At some times it can barely lift a scrap of paper of the street, and at others it can topple walls or propel a 20m boat across the sea. It can be experienced in a small locality or spread across an entire region. At any moment it is always changing in both speed and exact direction, but over a longer period of time its patterns and tendencies can generally be predicted. There are a range of possibilities for “covering” oneself from wind, from wearing a hard-shelled jacket to protect from wind chill to entering a reinforced concrete bunker during a tornado or hurricane, which are extreme wind events. However, at a small scale, it is interesting to explore basic materials that provide protection from air movement and finding relationships between them that can either shield from or enhance the effects of wind and allow for interaction with the phenomenon.


At the most general scale, wind flows from areas of high pressure (expanding, drier air) to areas of low pressure (denser, moist air).

At seaside locations (like Aarhus), local air movement is generally onshore from the cooler water (relative to warm land). When the land becomes cooler relative to the water at night, air movement switches to an offshore direction. [2]

At a small scale, objects can impede wind and provide temporary shelter. At a larger scale, the sum of these impedences over a region becomes friction to the general air flow.


A variety of basic predictions of “coverings” and interactions for the human body to experience wind. When between a solid and a solid, air flows around and no wind is felt. When between a mesh and a solid, there is partial air flow through the mesh but since there is no throughway on the opposite side, most air bypasses the space. When between a mesh and a mesh, air can flow directly through the space and the full force of the wind is felt.

Methods of protecting human skin from wind and wind chill, ranging from solid (windbreaker) to semi-mesh (sweater) to mesh (knitted wear). This sample of basic clothing methods could be applied to an architecture focused on wind, whether protecting from it or embracing it and providing a method of interaction.

A wind chill graph, indicating the perceived drop in ambient temperature from a measured 20° celsius with the addition of increased wind speed. [3]

Various examples portraying the sensory experience of wind. It can be audible through the rustling of trees, paper, sails or other pliable objects. It can be tactile through the cooling feel of increased evaporation off the skin or the drying of one’s eyes. It is of course also visual via the movement of otherwise still objects.


The interaction of wind and architecture poses an interesting question. Sometimes breezes and drafts are welcomed on a hot afternoon, and others they are shunned in the bitter depths of winter. However, there is the option of an operable envelope, which can be closed, open or some threshold between the two. While full exposure and full protection are fairly easy to comprehend, it is the interaction stage which poses the most intriguing condition. Examining an average directional weather vane, one can see that it operates most basically by providing a surface that resists the wind. Eventually the surface is pushed until its plane is parallel to the wind, giving the direction of the airflow. Applying this at a larger scale, a vessel could allow air to enter on one side and meet resistince with a surface hung on the other. Like a sail on a boat, the energy of the wind would eventually convert to kinematic motion of the vessel. It is this interaction stage, the stage between fully opening and fully covering oneself to the wind, that provides the most critical experience with the phenomenon. One could all at once feel the breeze moving across skin, hear the friction of the air passing through the metal mesh, see the canvas flap and the structure turn and finally experience, through movement, the power that wind can produce.

Aeolus Wind Pavilion [4] Luke Jeram

Wind Shaped Pavilion [5] Michael Jantzen

Tower of the Winds [6] Toyo Ito

Singing Ringing Tree [7] Tonkin-Liu


wind :: architecture. A mutual relationship. Architecture can shape and harness the wind just as easily as wind can shape and harness (and even destroy) architecture. Investigating the basic causes and natural conditions of wind leads to varying possibilities for interaction with the phenomenon—from covering and protection to experiencing and exposure. The interaction can be seen at a scale as small as clothing to one as large as an occupyable structure or landscape. An invisible force, it provides possibilities for experiences both physical and aesthetic.

Sources: [1] “What Is Wind?” What Is Wind? University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2013. [2] “Sea Breeze.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 31 July 2013. Web. 19 Sept. 2013. [3] Depre, B. “Comfort En Huid.” Lecture: OPO 42. Sint-Lucas Architectuur Gent, Gent. 6 Mar. 2013. Lecture. [4] “Aeolus | Interactive Wind Pavilion.” Feel Desain. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2013. [5] Jantzen, Michael. “Wind Shaped Pavilion.” Wind Shaped Pavilion. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2013. [6] Naja, Razmi. “AD Classics: Tower of Winds / Toyo Ito.” ArchDaily. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2013. [7] “Interactive Architecture Dot Org » Panopticons – Singing-Ringing Tree.” Interactive Architecture Dot Org. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2013. [8] All other photographs by Alexander Hartway, 2007-2013


[P1] Wind  

A brief study of the nearly "invisible" phenomenon of wind and the possibilities it presents for experiential, kinetic architecture.

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