Rémy Butler "We have to think of an architectural deconfinement so that buildings breathe"

Grandstand. It seems that the successive appearances of epidemics of the coronavirus type in recent years predict us a future of recurrent crises in the absence of cohabitation or of renewed vaccine solutions. If it is still too early to fully understand the modalities of transmission of the virus that concerns us today, there is concern in various study reports about the likely airborne transmission of it. In particular the one entitled Airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 by Lidia Morawska and Junji Cao, published at United States National Library of Medicine, April 10. And in view of the recent development of "air treatment" in buildings, this observation, if confirmed, challenges the architectural form.

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The link between human health, ventilation movements and architecture is attested since Vitruve (around 90 BC – 15 BC) and during its history architecture has been concerned with the movement of air in buildings, especially for hospital architecture as evidenced by the Filarète cup for the Ospedale Maggiore in Milan in 1456 where ventilation ducts punctuate the walls of common rooms. Similarly, Soufflot (1713-1780) when he restructured the Hôtel-Dieu de Lyon used the dome to extract stale air from places of hospitalization. The renewal of the air remained a constant concern of the architects until the mechanics took charge of it, during the XXe century, with air conditioning whose initial project was its refreshment and which quickly took responsibility for its renewal.

"Airtight" building

Throughout this development, hospital construction was, as often, the laboratory of habitat transformations. The generalization was made first for all the places which welcomed the greatest number, the brand new cinemas first, then the offices and finally the dwellings provided with bathrooms and ventilated kitchens on the outside. More recently, the concomitance of the requirements of political ecology to reduce the costs of an energy, however, in France, very low-carbon, with the interests of air conditioning companies and their design offices has succeeded, with thermal regulations RT2012 and RT2020, a generalization of the mechanization of air intakes and their circulation in buildings. This new way of designing inhabited spaces has profoundly changed architectural practice by allowing the construction of properly obese buildings whose facades are nothing more than displays before becoming posters and whose windows no longer open.

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