Technical newsletters about emerging issues & our latest research

New apartments need to be better designed for our changing climate. Designers should look to our nearest southerly European neighbours for architectural inspiration to not only keep heat in during winter but also keep heat out during summer.

Our fascination in the UK with entire glazed facades and full height windows in apartments is an interesting one. Glass may provide a sleek, clean and modern aesthetic in principle, but in practice gives residents little control over privacy, ventilation and shade from the summer sun.

Met Office scientists have warned that exceedances of 40oC in the UK, such as the heatwave earlier this month, could be as frequent as 1 in 3 years by the end of this century (compared to the previous 1 in 100-300 year likelihood). Even under the best-case scenario of current emissions pledges being met, these 40oC+ heatwaves are likely to happen every 15 years.

Key design features that will become much more common in the UK to adapt to climate change including:

  • External shading: Horizontal shading; vertical fins; external roller blinds; louvred shutters; sliding shutters/shading devices to balconies.
  • Smaller windows with no (or very little) fixed glazing and reduced (or very carefully considered) use of curtain walling (only where combined with suitable shading).
  • Larger window openings with window sill or transom heights raised to 1100mm to safely allow full window opening to minimum 60o (ideally 90o), unlocked from restrictors; inward opening windows for safe handle reach and to facilitate cleaning; and Juliette balconies with slatted balustrades to enable use of full-height glazing whilst allowing increased air flow.

Education of residents is also very important. During the heat of the day when it’s hotter outside than in, windows should be kept closed and blinds/shutters drawn to reflect the sun’s heat.