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Bioclimatic architecture

With 300 days of sunshine per year, Portugal is the ideal place to take advantage of the bioclimatic architecture concepts. Discover throughout this page the basic rules and strategies to adopt to build your bioclimatic house in Portugal.

Basic rules of my bioclimatic house in Portugal

A bioclimatic house integrates and adapts to its environment, and not the other way around.

  • Take into account from the design phase the following parameters:
    • Climate, orientation, exposure to prevailing winds (location and layout of housing rooms)
  • Maximize passive solar gains:
    • Most windows in the South

  • Avoid overheating in summer
    • By installing sunshades, adjustable shutters

    • By taking advantage of the vegetation of the surrounding environment (deciduous tree)
  • Focus on compact shapes
  • Give maximum priority to natural lighting

  • Opening oppositions to promote natural ventilation

maison bioclimatique au portugal - bioclimatic house in portugal

Different strategies according to the season

bioclimatic house in portugal

Bioclimatic architecture: an old concept

Although the term is recent, bioclimatic architecture is not new. Indeed, since the early days of building, local climate and environment were taken into account during the design phase. Even more recently, before the use of fossil fuels for heating became more widespread the bioclimatic rules were applied. Indeed, the sun was used for heating in winter and the buildings in the surrounding area were used to protect against excessive heat in summer.

Here are some examples of solutions that our ancestors used:

  • Natufians (10,000 BC): they buried their houses 1.40 m deep in order to ensure a temperate climate in the interior.
  • Mureybetans (8,500 BC): they protected their homes from the sun’s rays by insulating their roofs with several layers of reeds (60 to 80 cm). They also directed most of their houses full south and protected them with 2.20 m horizontal caps.
  • Egyptians of the New Kingdom (1800 BC): they  built a cellar under their houses. As the nights were cool, the fresh air was stored in the cellar. They were then exposed to fresh draughts on hot days.

Orientation and layout of a bioclimatic house

It is necessary to orientate correctly the house in order to take maximum advantage of solar gains in winter and to limit solar gains in summer.

For this reason, we recommend to place the least used rooms to the north, such as the bathroom, garage, laundry room, traffic areas or stairwell. They will act as a buffer zone that will reduce heat loss from walls in contact with these areas by up to 30%.

We will favor the living spaces in the Southwest (living room and dining room) and the bedrooms in the East.

layout bioclimatic house in portugal

It is important to take into account the existing solar masks during the design phase. This can be shading of neighboring buildings or vegetation that is an obstacle to solar radiation.

In summer, roof overhangs, deciduous vegetation and sunshades that can be oriented to the south and west provide a natural mask to limit heat gain.

The percentage of windows must not exceed 20% of the living area and their distribution can be as follows:

  • 50% of windows to the south
  • 20-30% of the windows to the east
  • 15% of windows to the west
  • 0-20% in the north