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Dossier : Entanglements of Architecture and Comfort beyond the Temperate Zone

Editorial: Historicizing Entanglements of Architecture and Comfort beyond the Temperate Zone

Jiat-Hwee Chang et Daniel J. Ryan

Texte intégral

  • 1 Reyner Banham, The Architecture of the Well-Tempered Environment, [2nd edition], London: Architect (...)
  • 2 Michelle Murphy, “Unsettling Care: Troubling Transnational Itineraries of Care in Feminist Health (...)
  • 3 Tomas Maldonado notes that comfort “has played, from the beginning, a fundamental role in the task (...)
  • 4 The notion of care here draws from María Puig de la Bellacasa, “Matters of Care in Technoscience: (...)

1Thermal comfort is the preoccupation of many building scientists, but it is something that architects and architectural historians seldom explore. For designers, the fact that comfort is an environmental attribute related to physical and psychological experience, expected to go unnoticed in the modern world, means that it is often taken for granted. Shouldn’t this taken-for-grantedness stir the curiosity of architectural historians? Don’t critical architectural historians share a tradition of interrogating unspoken assumptions and unquestioned norms? We certainly think so. In fact, we feel that comfort is not only an interesting topic for architectural historians to explore in itself, it is also productive for us to think of comfort in relation to its manifold architectural and environmental implications. Therefore, we focus on the histories of comfort and architecture in the themed section of the current and the upcoming issues of abe Journal, with the latter scheduled for publication in December 2020. In line with the scope of the journal, we are particularly interested in thinking about comfort in different temporalities and geographies. Our fascination lies with marginalized and neglected time-spaces, outside and alongside the immediate now, and the familiarity of the temperate zone created by the recent research in building science and the seminal work of Reyner Banham and James Marston Fitch.1 Venturing into unknown histories and unfamiliar territories would allow us to open up and unsettle, in Science and Technology Studies (sts) scholar Michelle Murphy’s sense of “stirring up and putting in motion,”2 what has historically been sedimented in the current established notion of comfort and discomfort. That involves going beyond narrow strictures of biologically or technologically determinist accounts of thermal comfort, to explore how comfort was and still is entangled with larger webs of relations, and how it was and still is dependent upon proliferating networks of infrastructures. By unsettling the established notion of comfort, we also follow Hannah le Roux’s powerful suggestion, articulated in her contribution to the debate section of this issue of abe Journal, of moving away from comfort towards care; moving from the exclusions and privileges of the idealized bodies and capitalist labor in Eurocentric and (Neo)colonialist universalism,3 to the situated inclusions and concerns for mistreated bodies and devalued labor through what Sandra Harding calls “standpoint epistemology.”4

  • 5 It is true that the lines of the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn are defined by solar declination (...)

2To stir up and unsettle “comfort” as a conceptual category, it is productive for us to engage with at least two overarching histories of architecture and comfort that cover the historical issues and stakes involved. And while there are multiple kinds of comfort, we trace a line of inquiry looking at histories of how thermal comfort, in part as temperature, in Western ontologies at least, has been an index to categorize both geographies and bodies in a way that sound or light have not. There is no luminous threshold that divides the world into parts, nor has there been any aural threshold.5 The world has not been divided into bright parts and dark parts, quiet parts and loud parts, to the same extent that dividing the world into torrid, temperate, and frigid parts has exercised European thought.

3The first history we need to engage with is a critical history of modern comfort from the eighteenth century until today. This account, forming the first part of this editorial introduction, draws on the historical scholarship on comfort in the built environment, the rise of air-conditioning, and the contemporary sociotechnical debates on thermal comfort and climate change. Focusing primarily on Euro-American contexts, it foregrounds the questions of assembling and dis-assembling comfort, of how bodily sensations of comfort and discomfort are situated in and yet abstracted from certain material cultural configurations, socio-environmental arrangements, and their entanglements. The second history we need to address turns to explore these questions in the different geographies and temporalities beyond the temperate world. It re-situates comfort and the built environment in relation to the various contexts of unequal cross-cultural and cross-climatic encounters revolving around (settler) colonialism, decolonization, and postcolonialism. Through these two histories that move between the temperate world and beyond, we show a relational understanding—in the geographical, temporal, and conceptual senses— that is central to the theme of our guest-edited sections of these two abe Journal issues.

(Dis)assembling thermal comfort and the air-conditioning crisis

  • 6 Joan E. DeJean, The Age of Comfort: When Paris Discovered Casual and the Modern Home Began, New Y (...)
  • 7 John E. Crowley, The Invention of Comfort: Sensibility and Design in Early Modern Britain and Earl (...)
  • 8 Witold Rybczynski, Home: A Short History of an Idea, op. cit. (note 6), p. 231-232.

4The modern concept of comfort emerged during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in Euro-American contexts.6 Premised on the “self-conscious satisfaction with the relationship between one’s body and its immediate physical environment”,7 modern comfort is a multi-layered concept with diverse physical and psychological attributes that depend on bodily interactions with an array of different types of material cultural elements under distinct socio-historical settings. Witold Rybczynski terms this the “onion theory of comfort,” where what seems simple to grasp on the outside, has multiple layers within. As a rich, multivariate socio-biological-environmental concept, it is difficult to explain and impossible to quantify.8

  • 9 Marcel Mauss, “Techniques of the Body,” Economy and Society, vol. 2, no. 1, 1973, p. 70-88. DOI: h (...)
  • 10 Elspeth Probyn, Carnal Appetites: Foodsexidentities, London; New York, NY: Routledge, 2000; Gordon (...)

5Instead, one can think of a comfortable body as an inextricable part of a larger assemblage. Marcel Mauss and others after him have argued the body is a cog in, not a cause of, the interplay of the biological, psychological and social in an assemblage.9 Besides being connected to other material cultural and environmental assemblages that Rybczynski and others foregrounded, this bio-psycho-social assemblage is also linked to assemblages structured around and by practices. These range from those that are repositories of past practices to those that serve as sources for forging new meanings and sensations through practices.10

  • 11 Adrian Forty, Objects of Desire: Design and Society 1750-1980, London: Thames and Hudson, 1986; Si (...)
  • 12 ashve changed its name to ashae or American Society of Heating and Air-conditioning Engineers in 1 (...)

6From the late-nineteenth century onward in primarily Euro-American contexts, through mechanization and electrification, the assemblage of bodily comfort, especially in domestic environments, expanded beyond traditional material cultural elements to include a newer and larger range of household appliances in lighting, cleaning, heating, and, of course, cooling.11 One of these electrical appliances—the air-conditioner— would go on to dominate and constrict the discourse and practice of comfort from the mid-twentieth century. The spread of air-conditioning during this period was made possible by narrowing and simplifying what counted as comfort. From the 1920s to the 1970s, the researchers associated with ashve (American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers, later known as ashrae or American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers),12 for example, stripped away the socio-historical, material cultural and environmental entanglements around body, suppressed the retentive and transformative dynamics of habitational practices, and equated comfort with a limited set of bio-psychological responses to narrow atmospheric parameters.

  • 13 Michelle Murphy, Sick Building Syndrome and the Problem of Uncertainty: Environmental Politics, Te (...)
  • 14 F. C. Houghten and C. P. Yagloglou, “Determining Lines of Equal Comfort,” Transactions of the Amer (...)
  • 15 P.  O.  Fanger, “Assessment of Man’s Thermal Comfort in Practice,” Br J Ind Med, vol. 30, no. 4, 1 (...)

7Using a heat-exchange model of thermal comfort, premised on a mechanistic view of the human body as a heat-regulating machine, these researchers replaced the complex assemblages of comfort in everyday practices with a setup that involved putting experimental subjects in a blank, empty box hermetically sealed from the outside. The main variables were the physical properties of the air inside the chamber, and these were mechanically manipulated by equipment manufactured by the air-conditioning industry. This arrangement allowed the researchers to “focus on isolating and rendering intelligible a more narrowly delineated set of qualities,” i.e. air temperature and relative humidity, as the determinant of comfort.13 Using the psychometric chambers as laboratories, the first measure of thermal comfort—lines of equal comfort— was established in 192314 and the widely-adopted Percentage Mean Vote (pmv) model of thermal comfort that persists till today was founded fifty years later.15

  • 16 James Marston Fitch, American Building. 2. The Environmental Forces That Shape It, op. cit. (note (...)
  • 17 Gail Cooper, Air-Conditioning America: Engineers and the Controlled Environment, 1900-1960, Baltim (...)

8Both laboratory-derived comfort models (lines of equal comfort and pmv) necessitate environmental conditions approximating “a thermal ‘steady-state’ across time and a thermal equilibrium across space” to be achieved.16 Only buildings with mechanical contraptions—specifically, air-conditioning systems—could achieve such a thermal constancy indoors despite the spatial and temporal variability of the natural climate outdoors. By framing thermal comfort in such a restrictive manner, ashve helped the air-conditioning industry to construct markets and sell comfort as a commodity.17

  • 18 James Marston Fitch, American Building: The Forces That Shape It, Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin; Ca (...)
  • 19 Victor Olgyay and Aladar Olgyay, Design with Climate: Bioclimatic Approach to Architectural Region (...)
  • 20 On the building as a selective filter see Reyner Banham, The Architecture of the Well-Tempered Env (...)

9Even architectural history during the middle of the twentieth century was not immune from the teleology of narrowing standards of environmental control as signs of universal progress. James Marston Fitch in the first 1947 edition of American Building: The Forces that Shape It, examined environmental control through the lens of comfort and domestic productivity. He suggested that there were ideal physical conditions for work and that the task of buildings was increasingly to take on the environmental stresses that heretofore the body had taken on, so as to free people for more productive work.18 The book, now little discussed, contributed much to the conceptual framing of Victor and Aladar Olgyay’s bioclimatic theory of architecture, of architecture as a form of physiological stress relief.19 While Fitch considered comfort in relatively broad physiological terms—comprising aural, acoustic, and olfactory comfort, as well as thermal comfort— the legacy of his framing of comfort is most pronounced in ideas about the building as a selective environmental filter, one where progress entailed ever more selective control, but with little consideration for social emancipation.20

  • 21 Alexandra Louise Quantrill, The Aesthetics of Precision: Environmental Management and Technique in (...)
  • 22 David Gissen, Manhattan Atmospheres: Architecture, the Interior Environment, and Urban Crisis, Min (...)
  • 23 Robert S. Thompson, “‘The Air-Conditioning Capital of the World’: Houston and Climate Control,” in(...)
  • 24 Matthias Roth and Winston T.L. Chow, “A Historical Review and Assessment of Urban Heat Island Rese (...)
  • 25 Stan Cox, Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (and Finding New W (...)

10The subsequent proliferation of air-conditioning from the second half of twentieth century contributed to many architectural, urban, environmental, and even planetary changes. These include new architectural aesthetics based on the articulation of hermetically-sealed air-conditioned volumes;21 new building types with large enclosed spaces that subsequently gave rise to the climatically-controlled interior urbanism;22 new geographies of rapid urban growth that brought about the formation of megalopolises in the hot climatic regions of, among others, the Southwest United States and the Arabian Gulf;23 altered microclimatic conditions of cities that exacerbated the urban heat island effect;24 and increased electricity consumption for cooling globally, which escalated carbon emissions and anthropogenic climate change.25

Novel comfort, field-based investigations, and a new hegemony

  • 26 Gwyn Prins, “On Condis and Coolth,” Energy and Buildings, vol. 18, no. 3, 1992, p. 251-258. DOI: h (...)
  • 27 Erik Cohen, “Climatic Environmental Bubbles and Social Inequalities,” in Kelvin E. Y. Low and Devo (...)

11Until recently, air-conditioning was deemed an energy-profligate and expensive technology that only the elite would need and could afford. It was thus associated with luxury and privilege. Nations heavily dependent on air-conditioning—such as the United States, Qatar and other Arabian Gulf States, and Singapore— were seen as unnecessarily addicted to air-conditioning when there could be more sensible and appropriate ways of living with heat.26 Critics singled out the middle-class population of certain cities in the Global South living in air-conditioned bubbles to contrast their lives with those of the sweaty and hot underclasses and to highlight the gaping inequality in these cities.27

  • 28 Shakoor Hajat and Tom Kosatsky, “Heat-Related Mortality: A Review and Exploration of Heterogeneity (...)
  • 29 Sustainable energy for all, Chilling Prospects: Tracking Sustainable Cooling for All (Vienna: Sust (...)
  • 30 See URL: https://globalcoolingprize.org/. Accessed 23 July 2020.
  • 31 Jiat-Hwee Chang, “Liveability at the Frontier of Climate Change: The Airbitat Oasis Smart Bus Stop (...)
  • 32 Katharine Schwab, “The Billion-Dollar Race to Invent a Wearable Air Conditioner,” Fast Company, Au (...)
  • 33 Jamila Gandhi, “Why Richard Branson Believes the Air Conditioning Industry Is Ripe for Disruption, (...)

12Today, air-conditioning is no longer seen as a luxury that people could do without. According to some researchers, air-conditioning can lower a population’s exposure to heat-related risks during periods of high temperature, especially during the temperature extremities of heat waves.28 Recently, access to cooling has even been re-articulated as an essential part of meeting United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals of poverty eradication and good health.29 All of the above developments have contributed to a global quest for disruptive cooling technologies, affordable and so radically efficient that they have far lower carbon emissions than conventional air-conditioning technologies. An example of this quest is the Global Cooling Prize organized by Rocky Mountain Institute and supported by the Indian government.30 Other examples, mostly by startups or startup-like units within larger corporations, include various type of outdoor coolers that combine sensible cooling with adiabatic cooling,31 and personalized wearable coolers that make use of thermoelectrics to produce cooling sensations.32 This quest is not just motivated by the altruistic desire of private entities to do good, it is primarily driven by the profit motive to capture a slice of what is estimated as a $100 billion market today that is projected to rapidly expand by four times in thirty years.33

  • 34 In 2015, two Dutch researchers published a journal article that shows that the metabolic rate used (...)

13The recent attempts to reconfigure and even depart from conventional air-conditioning technologies took place in conjunction with efforts at interrogating and changing the conventional notion of comfort. Among other things, the conventional thermal comfort model was criticized for making air-conditioned workplaces too cold for most female office workers and creating what mainstream media called “thermostat patriarchy.”34 Such objections, have brought a long-raging academic debate about thermal indices and thermal models into the mainstream media. On the one side have been proponents of controlled laboratory experiments, described above, and on the other has been the re-emergence of the importance of field experiments for assessing thermal comfort. This difference is linked to bodily assemblages in thermal comfort experiments. Instead of gathering data of comfort sensations from bodies isolated in the psychometric chamber, researchers sought to obtain data from bodies situated in the field and involved in everyday practices of maintaining comfort. This could be seen as an attempt to restore, in the experiments, some aspects of the complex assemblages of comfort.

  • 35 Jiat-Hwee Chang, “Thermal Comfort and Climatic Design in the Tropics,” op. cit. (note 13), p. 1186
  • 36 See for example Health of Munitions Workers Committee, “Final Report: Industrial Health and Effici (...)
  • 37 Steffan Blayney in his study of industrial fatigue in Britain during the early twentieth century n (...)

14This field-based approach is not new. In fact, it is a revival of practices carried out by, among others, British physiologists from the early to mid-twentieth century.35 That work had been driven by the emergence of health and safety culture in British industry in the 1910s, 20s, and 30s, particularly in mining and manufacturing, where physiologists like H.M. Vernon and Thomas Bedford were tasked with reducing workplace accidents, finding optimal temperatures for productivity, and investigating the thermal limits for work in hot environments such as mines.36 Laboratory-trained scientists, keen to show their social value, adapted their methods for the workplace and in the process sought to transform it.37

  • 38 Richard J. de Dear and Gail S. Brager, “Thermal Comfort in Naturally Ventilated Buildings: Revisio (...)
  • 39 J.F. Nicol and M.A. Humphreys, “Thermal Comfort as Part of a Self-Regulating System,” Building Res (...)

15The return to both field-based approaches and complex assemblages of comfort was undertaken primarily by a group of researchers who were proponents of an adaptive model of thermal comfort.38 While much of the field work was partial, with small samples often of students or government employees and inconsistent methods for measuring comfort, by the early 1970s there was a sufficient range of studies in both number and geographical spread, that researchers such as Michael Humphreys and Fergus Nicol at the Building Research Establishment (bre) began to undertake meta-analyses of the data in order to understand how people adapted to their thermal environment and how subjective warmth was a control mechanism for action on one’s surroundings.39 Their findings formed the basis for early attempts at an adaptive model of thermal comfort.

  • 40 Fergus Nicol notes in 1974 that Webb’s work in Roorkee and Baghdad had not been referred to. See C (...)
  • 41 Ruth Craggs and Hannah Neate, “Post-colonial Careering and Urban Policy Mobility: Between Britain (...)

16Yet the data they used within their early analyses indicates how studies of comfort in non-temperate locations helped shape the model. The initial data set that Humphreys and Nicol used for their study included both tropical and temperate data. For warm climates, they relied on data from Singapore, Roorkee, and Baghdad, compiled by C.G. Webb during the late 1950s and early 60s. Temperate data was covered by Bedford’s studies of English workplaces during the 1930s and Humphreys’s own study of schools during the early 70s, a thirty-five year gap, that point to the dearth of thermal field work occurring in Britain during the intervening period.40 Instead, field surveys after World War 2 were undertaken by mobile technical experts like Webb as part of a global project of modernization at the end of European empires.41

  • 42 For a detailed discussion on Latour’s idea of “centres of calculation” see Heike Johns, “Centre of (...)

17It is also worth noting the geographical range of data that researchers such as Humphreys had access to while at the bre. This points to the role played by certain institutions, such as the bre as coordinators of “Commonwealth Science”: with its laboratories, research networks, publications, it was a “centre of calculation” par excellence to use Bruno Latour’s term. Knowledge about comfort was not only accumulated from around the world but also systematized, classified, and transformed.42

  • 43 Gail S. Brager, Marc E. Fountain, Charles C. Benton, Edward A. Arens and Fred S. Bauman, “A Compar (...)
  • 44 Richard J. de Dear and Marc E. Fountain, “Field Experiments on Occupant Comfort and Office Thermal (...)
  • 45 Thermal delight was a term used by Lisa Heschong covering the thermal pleasures found in architect (...)
  • 46 Spatial alliesthesia is a term covering the environmental circumstances where a stimulus can induc (...)

18In that sense we can look at the adaptive comfort model’s history as a bridge between situated knowledge about comfort beyond the temperate zone and that within it, and see that both sets of knowledge helped to reconfigure Euro-American norms of comfort. This pattern occurred not only at the bre during the 70s but again during the late 1980s and 90s, when researchers sought to incorporate the adaptive comfort model into engineering standards. This time, the locus shifted to Berkeley, California, where researchers such as Gail Brager and Ed Arens, sponsored by ashrae, sought to address questions about how to apply laboratory-derived models to the field.43 By creating instrumentation and data entry protocols that rivalled laboratory standards, Brager and her group addressed earlier criticisms that the field data was not reliable enough to incorporate into a standard. These new instruments and protocols were essential to establishing “immutable mobiles” like robust and reliable field data and allowed the research to be replicated in 1993 in Townsville, Queensland by Richard de Dear, in an affiliated project also sponsored by ashrae.44 The results of these studies formed the basis for de Dear and Brager’s revisions to ashrae Standard 55. The appearance of the adaptive model also coincided with the move away from the conventional understanding of comfort as thermal neutrality—i.e. when one is neither too cold or too hot— to an understanding of comfort through active and stimulating concepts, such as thermal delight45 and spatial alliesthesia.46 If the universal thermal standard is one of the bases for the global proliferation of energy-profligate air-conditioned, hermetically-sealed building types, the new thermal comfort model and concepts might potentially contribute to new low-carbon cooling technologies in new built environmental configurations.

  • 47 Susan Roaf, “The Windcatchers of Yazd,” PhD dissertation, The Oxford College of Polytechnic, Oxfor (...)
  • 48 Susan Roaf, Ecohouse 2: a Design Guide, Amsterdam: Architectural Press, 2005. For an exploration o (...)

19As a model, adaptive thermal comfort can both universalize and add value to situated practices of architectural design. Traditional building techniques such as windcatchers and mud walls from Iran to Bangladesh have been the subject of study by many advocates of the adaptive approach to thermal comfort, highlighting seasonal forms of occupation and enhancing the value of the “effectiveness” of particular combinations of technologies.47 The laboratory-based steady state model of thermal comfort did not account for the fact that occupants were comfortable with a wider range of temperatures in such buildings. The fieldwork methods and the traditional wind-catchers and mud walls, for example, might go against the earlier universal models of thermal comfort. But this did not result in the abandonment of universal models. Instead, an alternative model of thermal comfort that could account for such differences was constructed. In so doing, traditional building technologies were brought into the fold of thermal universalism and the emerging discourse of sustainability, giving advocates for their retention a means to speak to engineers, enabling the creation of what the British environmental architect Susan Roaf termed a “new vernacular”—a melding of the traditional with the cutting-edge environmental technologies.48

  • 49 Fergus Nicol and Susan Roaf, “Adaptive Thermal Comfort and Passive Architecture”, in Mat Santamour (...)
  • 50 Richard J. de Dear, “Revisiting an old hypothesis of human thermal perception: alliesthesia”, Buil (...)
  • 51 “Thermal Comfort,” Velux. URL: https://www.velux.com/what-we-do/research-and-knowledge/deic-basic- (...)
  • 52 “Can Smart Buildings Support Wellness: Part 2,” mySmart Intelligent Environments, June 20, 2019. U (...)

20And while proponents of the adaptive comfort model such as Roaf or Fergus Nicol, insist that comfort should be considered a goal rather than a commodity,49 the dynamic conditions that adaptive thermal comfort supposedly accounts for—the shifting breezes, shadows and temperature differences between spaces— can also be commodified as forms of thermal pleasure. It is not perhaps what was originally intended by Lisa Heschong in her classic 1979 pamphlet, Thermal Delight in Architecture, which advocated for the haptic qualities of architecture, a plea to look at architecture beyond the visual and a challenge to the ocularcentrism of modernism. However ten years ago, Heschong’s work received renewed attention as researchers in the area of thermal comfort studies, including many of the key people behind the development of the adaptive comfort model, began to shift attention away from predicting comfort to forecasting thermal sensation—from predicting the conditions that people will perceive as neither too hot nor too cold, to anticipating and understanding what conditions are sensed as pleasant or unpleasant.50 This helped to change the interest within the comfort-engineering community from unnoticeable environments to noticeable ones. This change from thermal monotony to dynamic environments has now reached the point that thermal pleasure is part of the promotional repertoire of glazing companies51 and smart building services.52 This may be thought of as part of a commodification of the senses, where thermal delight can be used to stimulate greater consumption in shopping centers, but also where bodily experiences are turned into saleable products in, for example, the proliferation of hot yoga, spas, and saunas in the wellness industry. In that sense thermal delight can aid with noticing the environment one is in, or in the case of the pampered body, may well end up as another form of decontextualization. But there are also questions of power and status that come with the shift to thermal pleasure, particularly because of rarely discussed questions like for whom is the pleasure, who is responsible for maintaining it, and at what cost?

Colonial and Postcolonial Discomfort

  • 53 Martin W. Lewis and Karen Wigen, The Myth of Continents: A Critique of Metageography, Berkeley, CA (...)
  • 54 “Scalar dynamic” is a term used by Arjun Appadurai to discuss the different geographical scales an (...)
  • 55 Neo-Europe was coined by Alfred Crosby to refer to the European settler colonies in the North Amer (...)

21At this historical juncture of shifting to a new model of thermal comfort, which comes with its own set of problematic issues even while it addresses some of the problems of the previous model, we would like to propose with our guest-edited theme sections of the current and upcoming abe Journal issue that we step back in time and tread into other spaces beyond the normative history of comfort in the temperate zone—recounted in a critical manner above— to explore other temporalities and geographies of comfort. To be sure, meta-geographical categories like the temperate are never monolithic and their boundaries are certainly not fixed and unchanging, especially with the climate changing patterns of the Anthropocene.53 Our use of the temperate zone in this editorial introduction, however, refers to and critiques an ideal(ized) climatic norm that was used by European and, later, American imperialists and (settler) colonialists to understand and appraise the climates of other territories they encountered in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In looking beyond the temperate world, we pay attention to the histories of comfort in the other half of the latitudinal divide, one captured by geopolitical categories such as the tropics and the Global South that are still being widely used and debated today. At the same time, the contributions to our two guest-edited sections are not restricted to just the tropics. They also explore the antipodes to the Northern Hemisphere, particularly Australia, and the Far East to the “West” of Europe and North America, specifically Japan and China. These explorations come about not just due to the fluid ambiguities of geographical categories and our wish to challenge Euro-American-centric understandings of comfort. They also arise from the “scalar dynamic” of climatic zoning and comfort in vast countries like Australia and China.54 Here smaller scale thermal cultures can be at risk of homogenization by a larger, dominant one. This scalar dynamic foregrounds issues as diverse as the racial-environmental anxieties of settling in the tropical portions of the ecological “Neo-Europe” of Australia,55 and the socio-cultural practices of attaining comfort in the southern part of a vast part of China, deemed to be insufficiently cold.

  • 56 Raymond Williams, “Ideas of Nature,” in Problems in Materialism and Culture: Selected Essays, Lond (...)
  • 57 David Arnold, The Problem of Nature: Environment, Culture and European Expansion, Oxford: Blackwel (...)
  • 58 Mark Harrison, Climates and Constitutions: Health, Race, Environment and British Imperialism in In (...)

22In dealing with comfort in geographies beyond the temperate world, it is obvious that we are addressing comfort in relation to both climatic and socio-cultural differences. As is well-known, the natural is inseparable from the socio-cultural.56 In the tropics, this entanglement of the socio-cultural with the natural is made emphatically clear through what David Arnold called tropicality, i.e. the European’s construction of the tropics (gaining momentum especially between the early and mid-nineteenth century) as a socio-environmental “otherness”—along the line of Saidian Orientalism— to the “perceived normality of the temperate lands.”57 Over formal and informal colonial discourses and practices, and through their encounters of different durations—from brief sojourns to long-term residences— with the tropics, the Europeans, and later Americans, represented the tropics as various forms of alterities in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Before the nineteenth century, the tropics was already seen as a fundamentally different climate and environment—though exoticized by the Europeans, it was still perceived as one that the Europeans could adapt to via acclimatization and acculturation. For example, the British in India embraced numerous aspects of indigenous clothing, diet and built environment to produce a hybrid material culture that kept them comfortable.58

  • 59 Mark Harrison, “Differences of Degree: Representations of India in British Medical Topography, 182 (...)
  • 60 Warwick Anderson, “Disease, Race and Empire,” Bulletin of History of Medicine, vol. 70, no. 1, 199 (...)
  • 61 Jiat-Hwee Chang, A Genealogy of Tropical Architecture: Colonial Networks, Nature and Technoscience(...)

23However, as the high mortality and morbidity rates of Europeans in the tropics were rendered visible through the compilation of medical statistics and explained through the miasmatic theories of disease transmission from the early nineteenth century, the tropics began to be conceived as the pestilential other. Medical topography was also developed and used by the British colonial experts at around the same time to map correlations between environment and health in a more granular manner to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy territories, and connect climate and geography with bodies in ways that informed subsequent spatial interventions.59 Furthermore, the polygenist theory of racial fixity led many European medical experts to believe that the European constitution was fundamentally incompatible with the tropical climate and would degenerate with a prolonged stay in the tropics.60 The threat posed by the tropics to the European in the nineteenth century was much more than the discomfort caused by its hot climate; it became a matter of the short and long-term survival of the white race—and by extension, colonialism— in the tropics. To secure the health of the Europeans, the colonial governments in the tropics invested significant amounts of resources and introduced various measures, including spatial ones like improved housing types and hill stations. In contrast, the health of the indigenous populations in the tropics was largely ignored, although occasional labor or public-health crises that disrupted the functioning of colonial economies might temporarily draw the attention of the colonial governments. This divided colonial world of biopolitical investment and neglect, of making live and letting die, a reflection of the asymmetry of the power relationship, is one that would haunt the subsequent histories of comfort in not just the tropics but the larger territories outside the Euro-American temperate zone.61

  • 62 Hussein Alatas, The Myth of the Lazy Native: A Study of the Image of the Malays, Filipinos and Jav (...)

24The asymmetrical and divided world persisted even after the turn of the twentieth century, when germ theories displaced miasmatic theories of disease transmission and tropical medicine emerged. But even when it was no longer possible to attribute death and illnesses directly to climatic causes, European anxieties about living in the tropics continued. One source of these anxieties was apparently the claim that the tropical climate was too hot and enervating for the Europeans to work efficiently and thrive. Similar climatic determinist theories were also used to account for the purported indolence of the indigenous populations in the tropics and the general backwardness of the region.62 While such theories were useful in legitimatizing European colonial claims of bringing civilization and development to the tropics, they obviously overlook the underlying causes of the laziness of the indigenous populations: their passive resistance to the colonial states’ socio-economic exploitation and their refusal to be incorporated into colonial economies.

  • 63 For the life-sustaining web of relations and the connected heterogeneities in the world of care, s (...)
  • 64 Cara Daggett, The Birth of Energy: Fossil Fuels, Thermodynamics and the Politics of Work, Duke, NC (...)

25During decolonization and nation-building in the mid-twentieth century, attempts were made by both the late-colonial and post-colonial governments to make amends for earlier exploitative colonial regimes by establishing new development and welfare programs. These initiatives drew on the aforementioned Euro-American techno-scientific research on thermal comfort to establish comfort as one of the minimum standards for the design and planning of housing, schools, and other social building types. Although the standard was well-intentioned to ensure that minimal level of basic welfare provision was met, it had at least two fundamental problems. Firstly, the thermal comfort standard ignored the socio-cultural biases that historically constructed the tropics as unhealthy and uncomfortable. By ignoring the constructed nature of colonial tropicality, late and post-colonial deployment of thermal comfort turned a problem laden with Eurocentric socio-cultural values into a neutral (i.e. value-free) and technical one. Secondly, as a universal standard based on technical parameters, thermal comfort abstracted everyday practices of attaining bodily contentment out of their worlds of connected heterogeneities and the webs of relations that sustained them.63 Instead of remedying previous inequalities, this regime of what le Roux calls in her contribution to the debate section of this abe Journal issue “comfort without care” ushered in a new global hegemony of thermal governance that did not just influence the global dissemination of modernist architecture—including the variant of tropical architecture in the Global South— but also helped discipline laboring bodies and perpetuated colonial productivist logic in the postcolonial world.64

  • 65 Tomas Maldonado and John Cullars, “The Idea of Comfort,” op. cit. (note 3), p. 36.
  • 66 This will be discussed in an article by Cathelijne Nuijsink in the next issue.
  • 67 See the article by Sascha Roesler and Madlen Kobi in this issue. The concept of high modernism is (...)
  • 68 For a history of settlerism and distinctions between poor emigrants and privileged settlers see Ja (...)
  • 69 Kenneth Frampton, “Towards a Critical Regionalism: Six Points for an Architecture of Resistance,” (...)
  • 70 For cultural critiques of regionalism, see Anoma Pieris, Imagining Modernity: The Architecture of (...)

26The hegemonic notion of universal comfort could also easily turn into, as Tomas Maldonado reminded us, “the source of new hardships and sufferings.”65 As we noted earlier, this negation of comfort could happen anywhere, besides tropical or post-colonial contexts. It could happen in highly industrialized countries, such as Japan, where the design and planning of modern metropolises were criticized as neglecting psychological comfort.66 Or it could be seen in Communist China, which imposed a scheme of coarsely defined high-modernist climatic zoning that deprived a large segment of its population of centralized heating.67 Or, in settler colonies such as Australia, comfort could become a marker of racial privilege, where the thermal needs of Europeans were mapped for the whole continent, suggesting locations for intervention, with no concern for Indigenous sovereignty, needs, or agency. One might argue that the pursuit of comfort transformed emigrants into settlers.68 In the Global South, universal comfort with its attendant forms of built environmental manifestations was also challenged: for example, through buildings planned and designed implicitly or explicitly based on the adaptive model of thermal comfort and delight. The designers of these buildings often drew on traditional techniques of environmental modulation that certain proponents of adaptive thermal comfort were enamored of, and they also frequently incorporated fragments of traditional architectural elements. In these cases, designing for thermal comfort and delight was not just about environmental strategies for achieving certain bodily sensations for the inhabitants, it was also about attaining a form of cultural distinction. From the 1980s, such environmental-aesthetic configurations began to be hailed by a few influential Euro-American critics and theorists as expressions of architectural regionalism.69 The discourse of architectural regionalism was subsequently widely embraced in the Global South, leading to a proliferation of regionalist architecture. Despite claims that these buildings resisted Euro-American-centric globalization and asserted local identities through their aesthetics, tectonics, and environmental strategies, they often tended to be luxury housing and hospitality building types constructed for a privileged minority, including affluent tourists from Europe and North America.70 In other words, the valorization of alternative comfort models and local architectural forms in this historical moment was—not unlike the earlier universalist comfort and modernist form— about disconnecting comfort and architecture from their worlds.

Concluding Notes

27In the two overlapping histories above, comfort circulated through uneven geographies and heterogeneous temporalities around the world. As it circulated, it also mutated by helping to co-produce different built environments, and contributing to the reconfiguration of relationships between bodies, atmospheres, societies, politics, and cultures. The circulation of comfort as an idea and practice inevitably involved attachments to and detachments from various assemblies and their webs of relations. In the process, comfort entailed various degrees of rootedness and abstraction, of particularism and universalism, with implications for power relations depending on who was mobilizing which notion of comfort to what end. In other words, comfort does not pre-exist and pre-empt the relations it creates.

28The articles included in the guest-edited theme sections of this issue of the abe Journal and the coming one focus on comfort in relation to geographies beyond the temperate world that are never neutral. Our contributors specifically address how comfort operates with geohistorical and geopolitical processes to forge different relations of dominance, resistance, co-option, and improvisation. From the scalar dynamics of China’s non-heating zone to the entanglement of imperial anxieties about climate, technology, and civility in Niger, the provision of comfort and making oneself comfortable is a reaction conditioned by the contingencies of history, not just temperature. Indeed, the expectation that buildings should be comfortable is not a given and is often caught in the middle of competing discourses of progress as Sascha Roesler, Madlen Kobi, and Cathy Keys show in the case of twentieth-century China and Queensland. And while thermal comfort and discomfort can be sensed, in architecture they are also seen. As Natalia Solano-Meza shows, in Costa Rica this aesthetics of comfort has been positioned as a post-colonial act of resistance, but it also serves as an act of suppression. Of course, many of these points about comfort could be made about locations within the Euro-American temperate world. But by moving beyond this world, one can see the processes whereby anxieties about comfort are heightened, assumptions about thermal behaviors challenged, and how the non-temperate world has constructed the temperate one, instead of always seeing it the other way around.

Acknowledgements

29For Jiat-Hwee Chang, this research is supported by fellowships from the Clark Art Institute and the Rachel Carson Center for Society and Environment, and a Ministry of Education, Singapore, Tier 2 Research Grant “Heat in Urban Asia: Past, Present and Future” (WBS No. 395-000-060-112).

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Notes

1 Reyner Banham, The Architecture of the Well-Tempered Environment, [2nd edition], London: Architectural Press, 1984; James Marston Fitch, American Building. 2. The Environmental Forces That Shape It, [2nd edition, revised and enlarged illustrations], Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1972.

2 Michelle Murphy, “Unsettling Care: Troubling Transnational Itineraries of Care in Feminist Health Practices,” Social Studies of Science, vol. 45, no. 5, 2015, p. 731. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0306312715589136.

3 Tomas Maldonado notes that comfort “has played, from the beginning, a fundamental role in the task of controlling the social fabric of the nascent capitalist society.” He also argues that “comfort […] can be transformed—as happens often enough— into the source of new hardship and sufferings.” See Tomas Maldonado, “The Idea of Comfort,” translated by John Cullars, Design Issues, vol. 8, no. 1, 1991, p. 35-36. URL: http://www.jstor.com/stable/1511452. Accessed 29 July 2020.

4 The notion of care here draws from María Puig de la Bellacasa, “Matters of Care in Technoscience: Assembling Neglected Things,” Social Studies of Science, vol. 41, no. 1, February 2011, p. 85-106. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0306312710380301. The idea of standpoint epistemology comes from the work of feminist sts scholars. See Sandra G. Harding, Whose Science? Whose Knowledge?: Thinking from Women’s Lives, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1991; Donna J  Haraway, “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective,” Feminist Studies, vol. 14, no. 3, Autumn 1988, p. 575-599. DOI: 10.2307/3178066; Donna J. Haraway, “Staying with the Trouble: Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene,” in Jason W. Moore (ed.), Anthropocene or Capitalocene?: Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism, Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2016 (Kairos), p. 34-76.

5 It is true that the lines of the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn are defined by solar declination at the solstices, but this is a question of geometry rather than light.

6 Joan E. DeJean, The Age of Comfort: When Paris Discovered Casual and the Modern Home Began, New York, NY: Bloomsbury, 2013; Witold Rybczynski, Home: A Short History of an Idea, New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1987.

7 John E. Crowley, The Invention of Comfort: Sensibility and Design in Early Modern Britain and Early America, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001, p. ix (Johns Hopkins Paperbacks, 1).

8 Witold Rybczynski, Home: A Short History of an Idea, op. cit. (note 6), p. 231-232.

9 Marcel Mauss, “Techniques of the Body,” Economy and Society, vol. 2, no. 1, 1973, p. 70-88. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/03085147300000003.

10 Elspeth Probyn, Carnal Appetites: Foodsexidentities, London; New York, NY: Routledge, 2000; Gordon Waitt, “Bodies That Sweat: The Affective Responses of Young Women in Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia,” Gender, Place & Culture, vol. 21, no. 6, 2014, p. 666-682. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/0966369X.2013.802668. See also Elizabeth Shove, Mika Pantzar and Matt Watson, The Dynamics of Social Practice: Everyday Life and How It Changes, London: sage, 2012.

11 Adrian Forty, Objects of Desire: Design and Society 1750-1980, London: Thames and Hudson, 1986; Sigfried Giedion, Mechanization Takes Command: A Contribution to Anonymous History, New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1948.

12 ashve changed its name to ashae or American Society of Heating and Air-conditioning Engineers in 1954, and ashae merged with asre, or American Society of Refrigerating Engineers, in 1959 to form ashrae.

13 Michelle Murphy, Sick Building Syndrome and the Problem of Uncertainty: Environmental Politics, Technoscience, and Women Workers, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006, p. 24; see also Jiat-Hwee Chang, “Thermal Comfort and Climatic Design in the Tropics: An Historical Critique,” The Journal of Architecture, vol. 21, no. 8, 2016, p. 1171-1202. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13602365.2016.1255907; Elizabeth Shove, Comfort, Cleanliness and Convenience: The Social Organization of Normality, New York, NY; Oxford: Berg, 2003 (New Technologies/New Culture Series).

14 F. C. Houghten and C. P. Yagloglou, “Determining Lines of Equal Comfort,” Transactions of the American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers, vol. 29, 1923, p. 163-176; Idem, “Determination of the Comfort Zone,” Transactions of the American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers, vol. 29, 1923, p. 361-384.

15 P.  O.  Fanger, “Assessment of Man’s Thermal Comfort in Practice,” Br J Ind Med, vol. 30, no. 4, 1973, p.  313-324; Joost van Hoof, “Forty Years of Fanger’s Model of Thermal Comfort: Comfort for All,” Indoor Air, vol.  18, no.  3, 2008, p. 182-201. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0668.2007.00516.x.

16 James Marston Fitch, American Building. 2. The Environmental Forces That Shape It, op. cit. (note 1), p. 46.

17 Gail Cooper, Air-Conditioning America: Engineers and the Controlled Environment, 1900-1960, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998; Elizabeth Shove, “Social, Architectural and Environmental Convergence,” in Koen Steemers and Mary Ann Steane, Environmental Diversity in Architecture, London, New York, NY: Spon Press, 2004, p. 19-30.

18 James Marston Fitch, American Building: The Forces That Shape It, Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin; Cambridge, MA: Riverside Press, 1947.

19 Victor Olgyay and Aladar Olgyay, Design with Climate: Bioclimatic Approach to Architectural Regionalism, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1963.

20 On the building as a selective filter see Reyner Banham, The Architecture of the Well-Tempered Environment, [2nd edition], Chicago, MI: The University of Chicago Press, 1984 (Architecture. University of Chicago Press); Dean Hawkes, Jane McDonald and Koen Steemers (eds.), The Selective Environment: An Approach to Environmentally Responsive Architecture, New York, NY: Spon Press, 2001.

21 Alexandra Louise Quantrill, The Aesthetics of Precision: Environmental Management and Technique in the Architecture of Enclosure, 1946-1986, Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University, New York, 2017; Thomas Leslie, Saranya Panchaseelan, Shawn Barron and Paolo Orlando, “Deep Space, Thin Walls: Environmental and Material Precursors to the Postwar Skyscraper,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, vol. 77, no. 1, 2018, p. 77-96. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/jsah.2018.77.1.77.

22 David Gissen, Manhattan Atmospheres: Architecture, the Interior Environment, and Urban Crisis, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2014; Simon Marvin and Jonathan Rutherford, “Controlled Environments: An Urban Research Agenda on Microclimatic Enclosure,” Urban Studies, vol. 55, no. 6, May 2018, p. 1143-1162. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0042098018758909; Sze Tsung Leong and Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss, “Air Conditioning,” in Chuihua Judy Chung, Jeffrey Inaba, Rem Koolhass and Sze Tsung Leong (eds.), Harvard Design School Guide to Shopping, Cologne: Taschen; Cambridge, MA: Harvard Design School, 2001 (Project on the City, 2), p. 93-127.

23 Robert S. Thompson, “‘The Air-Conditioning Capital of the World’: Houston and Climate Control,” in Martin V. Melosi and Joseph A. Pratt (eds.), Energy Metropolis: An Environmental History of Houston and the Gulf Coast, Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007 (History of the Urban Environment), p. 88-108; Natalie Koch, “‘Building Glass Refrigerators in the Desert’: Discourses of Urban Sustainability and Nation Building in Qatar,” Urban Geography, vol. 35, no. 8, 2014, p. 1118-1139. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02723638.2014.952538; Pascal Ménoret, Joyriding in Riyadh: Oil, Urbanism, and Road Revolt, Cambridge, New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2014 (Cambridge Middle East Studies).

24 Matthias Roth and Winston T.L. Chow, “A Historical Review and Assessment of Urban Heat Island Research in Singapore,” Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, vol. 33, no. 3, 2012, p. 381-397.

25 Stan Cox, Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer), New York, NY: The New Press, 2010.

26 Gwyn Prins, “On Condis and Coolth,” Energy and Buildings, vol. 18, no. 3, 1992, p. 251-258. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-7788(92)90017-B; Peter James Rimmer and Howard W. Dick, The City in Southeast Asia: Patterns, Processes and Policy, Singapore: nus Press, 2009, p. 145-147; Nathalie Koch, “‘Building Glass Refrigerators in the Desert’: Discourses of Urban Sustainability and Nation Building in Qatar,” op. cit. (note 23); Tim Winter, “Urban Sustainability in the Arabian Gulf: Air Conditioning and Its Alternatives,” Urban Studies, vol. 53, no. 15, 2016, p. 3264-3278. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0042098015608782.

27 Erik Cohen, “Climatic Environmental Bubbles and Social Inequalities,” in Kelvin E. Y. Low and Devorah Kalekin-Fishman (eds.), Senses in Cities: Experiences of Urban Settings, London: Routledge, 2017 (Routledge Advances in Sociology), p. 11-24; Kate Lamb, “Inside the Bubble: The Air-Conditioned Alternate Reality of Jakarta’s Megamalls,” The Guardian, November 24, 2016.

28 Shakoor Hajat and Tom Kosatsky, “Heat-Related Mortality: A Review and Exploration of Heterogeneity,” Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, vol. 64, no. 9, 2010, p. 753-760.

29 Sustainable energy for all, Chilling Prospects: Tracking Sustainable Cooling for All (Vienna: Sustainable energy for all, 2019), available at https://www.seforall.org/publications/chilling-prospects-2019. Accessed 29 July 2020.

30 See URL: https://globalcoolingprize.org/. Accessed 23 July 2020.

31 Jiat-Hwee Chang, “Liveability at the Frontier of Climate Change: The Airbitat Oasis Smart Bus Stop by Innosparks,” The Singapore Architect, no. 12, 2018, p. 22-27.

32 Katharine Schwab, “The Billion-Dollar Race to Invent a Wearable Air Conditioner,” Fast Company, August 7, 2019. URL: https://www.fastcompany.com/90385897/the-billion-dollar-race-to-invent-a-wearable-air-conditioner. Accessed 23 July 2020.

33 Jamila Gandhi, “Why Richard Branson Believes the Air Conditioning Industry Is Ripe for Disruption,” Forbes Middle East, July 1, 2019, URL: http://www.forbesmiddleeast.com/billionaires/world-billionaires/why-richard-branson-believes-the-air-conditioning-industry-is-ripe-for-disruption. Accessed 23 July 2020.

34 In 2015, two Dutch researchers published a journal article that shows that the metabolic rate used in conventional thermal comfort calculation was based on a 40-year-old man weighing 154 pounds. As the metabolic rate of the man assumed in the calculation could be up to 35% higher than that of a woman office worker, the problematic assumption led to the widespread phenomena of female office workers feeling too cold in air-conditioned offices. See Ariana Eunjung Cha, “Your Office Thermostat Is Set for Men’s Comfort. Here’s the Scientific Proof,” Washington Post, August 4, 2015. URL: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/08/03/your-office-thermostat-is-set-for-mens-comfort-heres-the-scientific-proof/. Accessed 29 July 2020. Pam Belluck, “Chilly at Work? Office Formula Was Devised for Men,” The New York Times, August 3, 2015. The original journal article is Boris Kingma and Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt, “Energy Consumption in Buildings and Female Thermal Demand,” Nature Climate Change, no. 5, 2015, p. 1054.

35 Jiat-Hwee Chang, “Thermal Comfort and Climatic Design in the Tropics,” op. cit. (note 13), p. 1186.

36 See for example Health of Munitions Workers Committee, “Final Report: Industrial Health and Efficiency,” Cd. 9065, London: H.M.S.O. 1918, p. 84-88. H.M. Vernon and Thomas Bedford, “The Relation of Atmospheric Conditions to the Working Capacity and the Accident Rate of Coal Miners,” Industrial Fatigue Research Board Report, no. 39, 1927; Thomas Bedford, “The Warmth Factor in Comfort at Work: A Physiological Study of Heating and Ventilation,” Industrial Health Research Board Report, no. 76, 1936.

37 Steffan Blayney in his study of industrial fatigue in Britain during the early twentieth century notes that scientists and reformers at this time dreamed of producing a ‘body without fatigue’ that would remove any material or mental barrier to efficiency, productivity, and social progress. Blayney considers that fatigue played a discursive role for laboratory trained scientists in that it allowed them to show a social purpose, while industrial physiology was the field that emerged from this medico-social discourse on industrial fatigue. Steffan Blayney, “Industrial Fatigue and the Productive Body: The Science of Work in Britain, c.1910-1918,” Social History of Medicine, vol. 32, no. 2, May 2019, p. 311-312.

38 Richard J. de Dear and Gail S. Brager, “Thermal Comfort in Naturally Ventilated Buildings: Revisions to ashrae Standard 55,” Energy and Buildings, vol. 34, 2002, p. 549-561; Gail S. Brager and Richard J. de Dear, “Thermal Adaptation in the Built Environment: A Literature Review,” Energy and Buildings, vol. 27, no. 1, 1998, p. 83-96. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-7788(97)00053-4; Michael Humphreys, Fergus Nicol and Iftikhar A. Raja, “Field Studies in Indoor Thermal Comfort and the Progress of the Adaptive Approach,” Advances in Building Energy Research, vol. 1, no. 1, 2007, p. 55-88; Fergus Nicol, Michael Humphreys and Susan Roaf, Adaptive Thermal Comfort: Principles and Practices, London; New York, NY: Routledge, 2012.

39 J.F. Nicol and M.A. Humphreys, “Thermal Comfort as Part of a Self-Regulating System,” Building Research and Practice, vol. 6, no. 3, 1973, p. 191-197. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09613217308550237.

40 Fergus Nicol notes in 1974 that Webb’s work in Roorkee and Baghdad had not been referred to. See C.G. Webb, “An Analysis of Some Observations of Thermal Comfort in an Equatorial Climate,” British Journal of Industrial Medicine, vol. 16, no. 4, 1959, p. 297-310. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/oem.16.4.297. Fergus Nicol, “An Analysis of Some Observations of Thermal Comfort in Roorkee, India and Baghdad, Iraq,” Annals of Human Biology, vol. 1, no.4, 1974, p. 411-426. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/03014467400000441.

41 Ruth Craggs and Hannah Neate, “Post-colonial Careering and Urban Policy Mobility: Between Britain and Nigeria, 1945-1990,” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, vol. 42, no. 1, 2017, p. 45-46.

42 For a detailed discussion on Latour’s idea of “centres of calculation” see Heike Johns, “Centre of Calculation,” in John A. Agnew and David N. Livingstone (eds.), The Sage Handbook of Geographical Knowledge, London: Sage publications; Boston, MA: Credo Reference, 2011, p. 158-170. For a detailed discussion on the brs in the post-war years and in particular its Tropical Division see Jiat-Hwee Chang, A Genealogy of Tropical Architecture: Colonial Networks, Nature and Technoscience, London; New York, NY: Routledge, 2016 (Architext Series), p. 165-202. On Commonwealth Science see Roy MacLeod, “On Visiting the Moving Metropolis: Reflections on the Architecture of Imperial Science,” Historical Records of Australian Science, vol. 5, no. 3, 1980, p. 1-16. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1071/HR9820530001.

43 Gail S. Brager, Marc E. Fountain, Charles C. Benton, Edward A. Arens and Fred S. Bauman, “A Comparison of Methods for Assessing Thermal Acceptability in the Field,” in N. Oseland (ed.), Thermal Comfort: Past, Present and Future. Proceedings of a Conference held at the Building Research Establishment, Garston, 9-10 June 1993, Watford: Building Research Establishment 1993 (Building Research Establishment Report), p. 17-39.

44 Richard J. de Dear and Marc E. Fountain, “Field Experiments on Occupant Comfort and Office Thermal Environments in a Hot-Humid Climate,” ashrae Transactions, vol. 100, part 2, 1994, p. 457-475.

45 Thermal delight was a term used by Lisa Heschong covering the thermal pleasures found in architecture designed to provide thermal relief without creating a steady state environment. Heschong’s works can be read alongside that of William Lam, who made similar arguments at this time for lighting design, to move away from engineering monotonous environments, and reconsider what was meant by environmental quality. Lisa Heschong, Thermal Delight in Architecture, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1979. William M.C. Lam, Perception and Lighting as Formgivers for Architecture, New York, NY: McGraw Hill, 1977.

46 Spatial alliesthesia is a term covering the environmental circumstances where a stimulus can induce a pleasant or unpleasant affective response based on the internal set point of the subject. In general anything that will appear to restore our sense of comfort will be experienced as pleasant, while anything that will seem to further exacerbate our sense of discomfort will be experienced as unpleasant. Alliesthesia was first coined by Michel Cabanac in 1971 in an article in Science on the physiological role of pleasure. It was championed again in the past decade by Richard J. de Dear and Thomas Parkinson. See Michel Cabanac, “Physiological Role of Pleasure,” Science, vol. 173, no. 4002,1971, p. 1103-1107; Thomas Parkinson and Richard J. de Dear, “Thermal Pleasure in Built Environments: Spatial Alliesthesia from Contact Heating,” Building Research & Information, vol. 44, no. 3, 2016, p. 248-262. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09613218.2015.1082334.

47 Susan Roaf, “The Windcatchers of Yazd,” PhD dissertation, The Oxford College of Polytechnic, Oxford, 1988; R. Shanthi Priya, M.C. Sundarraja and S. Radhakrishnan, “Experimental Study on the Thermal Performance of a Traditional House with One-Sided Wind Catcher during the Summer and Winter,” Energy Efficiency, no. 5, 2012, p. 483-496. For earlier work in this research tradition, see Hassan Fathy, Natural Energy and Vernacular Architecture: Principles and Examples with Reference to the Hot Arid Climates, Chicago, IL; London: University of Chicago Press, 1986.

48 Susan Roaf, Ecohouse 2: a Design Guide, Amsterdam: Architectural Press, 2005. For an exploration of the connection between the interest in the environmental performance of vernacular buildings and the emerging sustainability discourse in the 1980s and 1990s, see Jiat-Hwee Chang, “Tropical Variants of Sustainable Architecture: A Postcolonial Perspective,” in C. Greig Crysler, Stephen Cairns and Hilde Heynen (eds.), The sage Handbook of Architectural Theory, London: sage, 2012, p. 602-617.

49 Fergus Nicol and Susan Roaf, “Adaptive Thermal Comfort and Passive Architecture”, in Mat Santamouris (ed.), Advances in Passive Cooling, London: Earthscan 2012 (Buildings, energy, solar technology), p. 1.

50 Richard J. de Dear, “Revisiting an old hypothesis of human thermal perception: alliesthesia”, Building Research and Information, vol. 39, no. 2, 2011, p. 108-117; Richard J. de Dear et al., “Progress in thermal comfort research over the last twenty years,” Indoor Air, vol. 23, no. 6, 2013, p. 442-461. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/ina.12046.

51 “Thermal Comfort,” Velux. URL: https://www.velux.com/what-we-do/research-and-knowledge/deic-basic-book/thermal-comfort/how-to-achieve-thermal-comfort. Accessed June 19, 2020. Eloise Sok, “The Role of ‘Alliesthesia’ in Building Design,” Sage Glass Visionary Insights, last modified Nov 6, 2018. URL: https://www.sageglass.com/en/visionary-insights/alliesthesia-in-buildings. Accessed 29 June 2020.

52 “Can Smart Buildings Support Wellness: Part 2,” mySmart Intelligent Environments, June 20, 2019. URL: https://mysmart.com.au/insights/can-smart-buildings-support-workplace-wellness-part-2/. Accessed 29 July 2020.

53 Martin W. Lewis and Karen Wigen, The Myth of Continents: A Critique of Metageography, Berkeley, CA; London: University of California Press, 1997.

54 “Scalar dynamic” is a term used by Arjun Appadurai to discuss the different geographical scales and their attendant dynamics of cultural domination and homogenization. The same concept can be applied to culture of climate too. Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1996 (Public Worlds, 1).

55 Neo-Europe was coined by Alfred Crosby to refer to the European settler colonies in the North America and Oceania that were bio-ecologically produced to be similar to Europe. See Alfred W. Crosby, Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900, New York, NY; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

56 Raymond Williams, “Ideas of Nature,” in Problems in Materialism and Culture: Selected Essays, London; New York, NY: Verso, 1980, p. 67-85.

57 David Arnold, The Problem of Nature: Environment, Culture and European Expansion, Oxford: Blackwell, 1996 (New Perspectives on the Past), p. 143. See also Felix Driver, “Imagining the Tropics: Views and Visions of the Tropical World,” Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, vol. 25, no. 1, 2004, p. 1-17. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0129-7619.2004.00167.x; David N. Livingstone, “Tropical Hermeneutics: Fragments for a Historical Narrative: An Afterword,” Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, vol. 21, no. 1, 2000, p. 76-91. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9493.00066.

58 Mark Harrison, Climates and Constitutions: Health, Race, Environment and British Imperialism in India 1600-1850, Oxford, New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1999 (Oxford India Paperbacks); Anthony D. King, The Bungalow: The Production of a Global Culture, [2nd edition], New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1995. Although the British imperial context is dealt with here, it should be noted that the socio-environmental construction of the tropics as various alterities was also apparent in other European imperial contexts. See Marie-Odette Scalliet, Koos van Brakel, David van Duuren and Jeannette ten Kate, Pictures from the Tropics: Paintings by Western Artists during the Dutch Colonial Period in Indonesia, Wijk en Aalburg, Amsterdam: Pictures Publishers, Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen, 1999; John Kleinen, “Tropicality and Topicality: Pierre Gourou and the Genealogy of French Colonial Scholarship on Rural Vietnam,” Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography vol.. 26, no. 3, 2005, p. 339-358. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9493.2005.00228.x.

59 Mark Harrison, “Differences of Degree: Representations of India in British Medical Topography, 1820–c. 1870,” Medical History, vol. 44, no. 20, 2000, p. 51-69. URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2530994/pdf/medhistsuppl00027-0059.pdf. Accessed 29 July 2020.

60 Warwick Anderson, “Disease, Race and Empire,” Bulletin of History of Medicine, vol. 70, no. 1, 1996, p. 62-67. DOI: 10.1353/bhm.1996.0001; Mark Harrison, “‘The Tender Frame of Man’: Disease, Climate, and Racial Difference in India and the West Indies, 1760-1860,” Bulletin of History of Medicine, vol. 70, no. 1, 1996, p. 68-93. DOI: 10.1353/bhm.1996.0038.

61 Jiat-Hwee Chang, A Genealogy of Tropical Architecture: Colonial Networks, Nature and Technoscience, op. cit. (note 42).

62 Hussein Alatas, The Myth of the Lazy Native: A Study of the Image of the Malays, Filipinos and Javanese from the 16th to the 20th Century and Its Function in the Ideology of Colonial Capitalism, London: F. Cass, 1977; Paul S. Sutter, “The Tropics: A Brief History of an Environmental Imagery,” in Andrew C. Isenberg (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Environmental History, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014 (Oxford Handbooks), p. 17-198.

63 For the life-sustaining web of relations and the connected heterogeneities in the world of care, see María Puig de la Bellacasa, “Matters of Care in Technoscience”; María Puig de la Bellacasa, “‘Nothing Comes Without Its World’: Thinking with Care,” The Sociological Review, vol. 60, no. 2, 2012, p. 197-216. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-954X.2012.02070.x.

64 Cara Daggett, The Birth of Energy: Fossil Fuels, Thermodynamics and the Politics of Work, Duke, NC: Duke University Press, 2019 (Elements).

65 Tomas Maldonado and John Cullars, “The Idea of Comfort,” op. cit. (note 3), p. 36.

66 This will be discussed in an article by Cathelijne Nuijsink in the next issue.

67 See the article by Sascha Roesler and Madlen Kobi in this issue. The concept of high modernism is taken from James C. Scott, Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998.

68 For a history of settlerism and distinctions between poor emigrants and privileged settlers see James Belich, Replenishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Angloworld, New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2009, p. 153-165.

69 Kenneth Frampton, “Towards a Critical Regionalism: Six Points for an Architecture of Resistance,” in Hal Foster (ed.), The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture, New York, NY: New Press, 1998, p. 16-30; Alexander Tzonis, Liane Lefaivre and Bruno Stagno, Tropical Architecture: Critical Regionalism in the Age of Globalization, Chichester: Wiley-Academic, 2001; William J. R. Curtis, “Towards an Authentic Regionalism,” Mimar, no. 19, 1986.

70 For cultural critiques of regionalism, see Anoma Pieris, Imagining Modernity: The Architecture of Valentine Gunasekara, Pannipitiya: Stamford Lake; Colombo: Stamford Lake & Social Scientists’ Association, 2007; Keith L. Eggener, “Placing Resistance: A Critique of Critical Regionalism,” Journal of Architectural Education, vol. 55, no. 4, 2002, p. 228-237. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1162/104648802753657932. Paul Walker, “Kenneth Frampton and the Fiction of Place,” in Andrew Leach and Nicole Sully (eds.), Shifting Views: Selected Essays on the Architectural History of Australia and New Zealand, St. Lucia, Qld.: University of Queensland Press 2008, p. 70-80.

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Jiat-Hwee Chang et Daniel J. Ryan, « Editorial: Historicizing Entanglements of Architecture and Comfort beyond the Temperate Zone »ABE Journal [En ligne], 17 | 2020, mis en ligne le 25 septembre 2020, consulté le 26 janvier 2021. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/abe/7998 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/abe.7998

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Jiat-Hwee Chang

Associate Professor, National University of Singapore, Singapore

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Daniel J. Ryan

Lecturer, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

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