chapter  6
8 Pages

Atria and Double Skins

Although originally referring to the open-tothe-sky central court in classical Roman houses, the atrium was reinterpreted in the 1970s and 1980s to mean a large prestigious glazed space, usually part of a non-domestic building. Its association with energy conservation possibly stemmed from work carried out in Cambridge in the 1970s, where the energy implications of covering over courtyards was analysed, with the conclusion that there was indeed a potential for energy saving, provided the space was not heated.There then followed an epidemic of atria all claiming to be energy saving, although in almost all cases, the lighting, heating and often cooling of these spaces, together with the reduced availability of daylight and natural ventilation to adjacent fully occupied spaces, actually meant that these features were costing extra energy, rather than saving it. In spite of this, due no doubt to the architectural potential of these spaces, the atrium continues to be popular.