• Xiaoyu Du TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment


In our current age, sustainability is a key issue in the development of society, economy and environment. It is widely discussed that it is necessary to achieve a balance between the needs of people, business and nature. To maintain and possibly improve the built-up world in an ecological sense is a worldwide challenge for the current and next generation of architects, designers, technicians, public servants and decisionmakers on every level (Kristinsson, 2012). Health nature and human delight are important factors in creating new manmade living environment-city, neighbourhood and building-but these form no common basis for design. The building sector plays a significant role in the overall energy consumption, consuming over one-third of the global final energy consumption. Most of the energy is for the provision of lighting, heating, cooling and air conditioning. As human society develops, the energy demand of buildings could continuously increase globally. Therefore, reducing the energy consumption in the building sector is an important research topic. After decades of effort, to improve the efficiency of energy systems and to develop clean and new energy, architects, engineers and researchers have also tried to develop passive ways to reduce the energy consumption of buildings and to provide a comfortable living environment for occupants. More attention is paid to vernacular buildings in order to get inspiration for passive cooling and heating techniques.

Passive cooling for thermal comfort in summer is a big issue for low-energy building design, and has received more attention from designers and researchers in recent years. An important reason is global and local climate change, which increases the ambient temperature and the corresponding number of cooling degree days. In addition, because of the developing economy, improvement of people’s living standards, and globalisation of modernist architecture1, the energy needs of buildings have increased rapidly. In particular, cooling the building is challenge, especially in countries where few resources are available. Passive cooling techniques are based on the application of solar and heating control systems, dissipation of the excess heat into low-temperature natural sinks and the amortisation of the heat surplus through the use of additional thermal mass in the buildings (Santamouris & Asimakopoulos, 1996). The passive mode for cooling of buildings largely depends on the design of urban and building forms. Designers have proposed many passive design strategies to improve the thermal environment for summer comfort. Urban morphology, building form (shape) and building components are normally the focuses in these studies. However, the significance of building spatial configuration for passive cooling and occupants’ thermal comfort in summer has not been studied sufficiently. Space is the empty part of the building, but its volume is important for the activities of occupants. It is the volume that people live in with various physical and psychological sensations. In his Taoist classics “Tao Te Ching”, the great Chinese thinker, Lao Tzu (571 BC - 471 BC) described building space as: “By cutting out the doors and windows we built a house and on that which is non-existent (on the empty space within) depends the house’s utility”. An architect usually thinks and designs in squares and cubic metres, lines, areas, volumes, luminance differences (Kristinsson, 2012). Architects define the general spatial structures of buildings mainly in the early design stages, and the spatial properties, the connection of the spaces and the boundary conditions of them are significant for the building performance and thermal sensation of occupants. What is the contribution of spatial design for passive cooling? Can we achieve more a comfortable living environment through the adjustment of the spatial configuration? In this dissertation, the objects studied for passive cooling will be spatially configured instead of the urban morphology, building form (shape) and building component. The relationship between spatial configuration and thermal summer comfort will be clarified and a potential design method will be proposed for the spatial analysis for passive cooling.


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Author Biography

Xiaoyu Du, TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment

Xiaoyu Du obtained his MSc in Building Technology at Chongqing University, China. From 2002 to present, he taught at the department of building technology, Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning, Chongqing University. He is an associate professor in Chongqing university currently. He has a long experience of teaching in multidisciplines related to architectural design and designing practice. He teaches complex building design, building construction, detailed design and green building innovation related technologies for undergraduate and graduate students. He participated and finished some education and research projects, and published papers and book chapters. He also finished many design projects for residential communities and public buildings in China. He joined the faculty of architecture and the built environment, TU Delft as a guest researcher in 2011.


How to Cite
DU, Xiaoyu. Introduction. A+BE | Architecture and the Built Environment, [S.l.], n. 10, p. 31-46, nov. 2019. ISSN 2214-7233. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 25 feb. 2020. doi: