November 29, 2022

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The planet is hot: developing an ancient way to fight the heat in Spain

Granada, Spain | Narrow streets, small windows, thick walls and interior gardens: even though it was built 800 years ago, an old neighborhood in Granada, Spain, is more resilient to global warming than sleek modern buildings.

• Read more: European heat wave: Evacuees fear it’s just the beginning

“It is like a snake biting its own tail. Here, today’s constructions use air conditioning for cooling, which contributes to global warming, while inspiration can be drawn from old constructions to create better adaptive homes,” says Andalusian architect Blanca Esprajes. Newspaper Streets of Granada.

For weeks, Spain has been suffocating in temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius or more, depending on the region. In the south of the country, in Andalusia, the mercury reached 45 ° C several times.

But despite the scorching sun and intense heat, some neighborhoods remain intact thanks to the way they were built and designed 800 years ago.

When you stroll through the streets of the Albaicin district in Granada, in the south of Spain, you immediately feel that it is cooler than the city center. However, less than a kilometer separates the two districts.

“It’s 5 to 10 degrees cooler here than in the center of Granada,” the architect points out.

Adaptive architecture

Ms. Esprages says that Mediterranean streets and houses, like those in Albaicin, are built on common sense to naturally adapt to hot and dry climates, to avoid overheating during hot periods.

Narrow streets make it possible to circulate and create air currents. The walls of the houses are one meter thick and plastered with lime to prevent heat from entering. Green spaces in gardens or courtyards control the climate of the home.

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If these constructions seem like a solution for the future, Ms. Esperages is well aware that temperatures are only rising year after year and unless the government does something, nothing will change.

“Unfortunately, it’s much easier to build large buildings that rely on technology like air conditioning than to rethink our constructions,” he laments.

Also in Quebec

In contrast to the same climate of Andalusia, we need to rethink the way we build our houses in Quebec, especially by using renewable and renewable resources such as wood and by better insuring the houses, underlines the school’s Professor André Casald. Architecture from Laval University.

“There are lessons to be learned from the constructions of the past, but you still have to say that the environment is very different and you have to adapt,” he explains.

– In collaboration with Nora T. Lamontagne

Small windows to deal with the heat

Small windows prevent too much light and heat from entering the interior of the house. So it will be fresh. In the evening, when the temperature becomes more pleasant, residents of these houses that do not need air conditioning can open their windows to circulate the air. “People with patios have even more ventilation in this system,” says Spanish architect Blanca Espigares.

Inner islands of freshness

The Carmen, houses located near Albaicin in Granada often have one or sometimes several patios. These “rooms” allow you to create a real island of freshness for your home.

“Thanks to the water point and the plants, it really helps regulate the temperature. You can choose a tree with leaves that lose their leaves in winter to be more shaded in summer, for example, says Spanish architect Blanca Espigares.

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By opening the windows overlooking these courtyards, you can ventilate the house with fresh air.

Walls almost a meter thick

With thicknesses ranging from 80 centimeters to sometimes 1 meter, the walls absorb heat before it reaches the interior of the house, “which helps to maintain a good temperature,” explains Spanish architect and guide Blanca Espigares. Andalusia, Spain. Also, the buildings are covered with lime, a product found especially in Granada, which allows reflection thanks to its white color and therefore does not store heat.

A tiring afternoon

In Granada, it is very difficult to bear the heat, especially in the afternoon.

By 4 pm, it was 41 degrees Celsius in the city centre. Our reporter felt it immediately when he set foot in the town last week.

It was the second hottest day she had ever encountered, even though she had reported several days in scorching Europe. Only his time in Madrid was hot.

“That’s why we sleep here!” The heat makes us tired! Blanca Espigares explains.

“It is for this reason that Spaniards take advantage of the lateness of the day by going to dinner around 9 p.m.,” he adds.

“If we don’t organize ourselves according to the heat, we won’t do anything,” he adds.

Narrow streets for fresh air

In the district of Albaicin, located in Granada, Spain, the streets are very narrow. Built in 13e Over the century, these streets bring freshness, allowing the breeze to blow through them. The narrowness also allows protection from the sun, because at all times of the day, a shadow will be created thanks to the buildings.