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Lifestyle in Mediterranean Climate

The Mediterranean climate is characterised by its changing conditions all over the year as well as along the day. As a result of that, facades are implemented with a huge number of architectural filters, barriers and connecting elements that allow its adaptation to these varying conditions. Short and cool winters are separated from short and hot summers by intermediate periods with mild conditions in which the most part of the day the exterior conditions are comfortable. The extroverted character and lifestyle of those societies is the result of this climate conditions that invite to a close relation with external space.

The architectonic result of these variable conditions is evident in the great amount and variety of buffer spaces that characterise Mediterranean architecture and where this lifestyle can be developed. Those elements confer our architecture special interest. Patios, balconies, porches, conservatories, etc. create a repertoire of shapes that are repeated and are adapted to the needs without detracting from the formal quality of the architecture, but rather quite the opposite. High-rise buildings, generally with glass envelopes that cannot be opened and a simple inside roller blind for the shade, generate rejection in users in these benign climates accustomed to an intense relationship with the outside. The greater transparency achieved by those glass facades does not prevent users from feeling a sensation of claustrophobia and overexposure due to the lack of practicable windows, shading devices and intermediate spaces.

The search for light is not a priority in a place where there is an excess of radiation and where environmental quality is determined by the delicate balance between light and shade. The most invisible of the media in which we are immersed, the air, becomes our best ally in this climate and the sealed skins of high-rise buildings reject it radically. Fresh air and, more importantly, cool and warm air from the exterior are an element that the inhabitants of the Mediterranean want to be able to manipulate to their taste to achieve an environmental quality that could be defined as a significant element for their quality of life.

The tendency (which can be observed when comparing the first high-rise buildings with some current structures) to substitute single skin facades by double ones corroborates, purely from an energetic point of view, the value of making use of the exterior ambient conditions when they can provide greater quality to the inside space or also save energy.

Another of the characteristic elements of Mediterranean architecture, in addition to intermediate spaces, is solar protection. The immense variety of solar protection systems present in the architecture (fixed, mobile, flexible, etc.), from the most humble abodes to elegant palaces, has awakened the interest and fascination of observers from all over the world.

Apart from vernacular Mediterranean architecture, magnificent examples of shading devices can be found among the pioneers on Modern Movement in other places where the sun exposure is too high: the Golconde building (1945) by Antonin Raymond in India, the Panama Hotel (1946) by E. D. Stone, or the Panama University (1950) by Bermudez, De Roux and Mendez Guardia, as well as the great number of works designed by the Brazilian architects as L. Costa, O. Niemeyer, A. E. Reidy, A. F. Costa, etc. A large bibliography dealing with shading devices, starting in the book of Olgyay brothers in 1957, can be found today (Olgyay and Olgyay 1957). This fact shows the interest of these apparently so simple elements that are really complex and effective solutions even though their adaptation to high- rise buildings is complex due to the singularity of the typology and the extreme conditions to which they are exposed (Fig. 10.5).

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