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7 Layers 4 Dimensions

So often, we come across with a story at the beginning of a speech or an article because it helps to visualise the idea and to create fresh links and connections with the audience. This blog post will focus on the relationship between the title “7 layers 4 dimensions” and sustainability in architecture. It will intentionally remain as an ongoing post to spread the roots of the subject as far as it can go.

To start with 4 elements of life, it is obvious that earth, water, fire and air are the key matters. However, author Tom Robbins connects these elements together in an interesting way with the search for eternity in human life. In his book called Jitterbug Perfume he creates the link between the four elements and main actions as bathing represents water, nurturing comes from earth, love stands for fire and breathing is related with air. So eternity is possible to achieve with a ritual of these actions in human life. If this pairing is done for eternity in human life, then what do these elements represent in architecture?

The instinct to create a space is common for each member of the ecosystem in the nature, such as bees create their comb, birds build their nest, turtles have their shell and humans requires as well a shelter to feel safe and protected from outer life by using either natural borders of a cave or walls as vertical dividers. Architect Gottfried Semper answers in his book called The Four Elements of Architecture, that these elements are the hearth, the roof, the enclosure and the mound. However, it is more complicated nowadays with the key requirements that are expected to perform from a building envelope in the search of perfection - if possible. There are usually 7 layers that come from an optimised façade of an efficient building and it consists of inner finish, service gap, vapour barrier, structural bearings, thermal insulation, waterproofing material and outer shelter.

Although these layers aim to reach perfection in terms of energy efficiency and providing maximised health and wellbeing conditions within buildings, different lifetime durations of separate layers is still an important issue to discuss. Therefore, 4 dimensions come to the stage to especially highlight the importance of time factor. As well as width, depth and height of each material used within a building, they also have a lifetime use and it often doesn’t correspond to all of them. This remains a question: what will happen when thermal insulation is at the end of its life when the air barrier isn’t?


I'm Damla

I am a Sustainability Consultant, Architect and Entrepreneur fascinated by environmentally conscious thinking. I continue my lifetime research on how to enhance ecosystems on Earth with design. I also focus on human behaviour and comfort from an efficiency and adaptability perspective and aim to develop my work via holistic system design. 

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