Inner 'Green' Space A Study of Conservationism in Atrium Spaces Using Academic Buildings in Southern Ontario
Smith Jr., Barry Warren
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Since taking hold in the mid 1960s, the modern atrium has become prevalent in many designs and buildings within contemporary architecture. The modern day atrium has endured to find its place amidst our current technologies and design aspirations by continuing to offer a capacity for assisting in urban strategies, providing strong economic returns on investment, conserving or recycling existing buildings, and for its potential to reduce energy consumption. Today, as concerns for energy and the environment rise to prominence within contemporary opinion, the reliance on more integrated conservational design strategies such as what the atrium offers in the matter of material and energy conservation is more relevant than ever. Yet simply including an atrium space within a building does not guarantee its effectiveness in realizing the potential for sustainable design. By selecting to survey a collection of recently completed academic buildings in Southern Ontario, the thesis aimed to examine what current reality exists in our use of the atrium with regards to its conservational characteristics. By examining the atrium’s ability to integrate sustainable design strategies in three areas: the adaptation into existing buildings and flexible program space; the use of effective daylighting; and the provisions to manage passive air handling; the thesis identified what conservational attributes are present and how often these functions are accomplished within the atrium designs of the selected study group of buildings. Overall it was found that the current trends of conservationism in atria of the studied academic buildings are constant, that is, they do not exhibit growth proportional to the increasing awareness of ‘green’ and sustainable thinking seen in today’s culture. Furthermore, the thesis closes with a concluding critique, providing a discussion surrounding the belief that though the atrium is a possible material and energy conservational tool, much of its success can be attributed to the meticulous planning and holistic approach involved in the execution of successfully resolved atria designs.