Building regulations prevailing in France made it compulsory to use specific ventilation systems in new residential buildings since 1969. Different kind of ventilation systems (mechanically powered, temperature driven, hybrid systems,...) have been developed. This paper reviews these systems and outlines their advantages and drawbacks in single-family or multi-family buildings, with respect to architectural flexibility and comfort or safety requirements. In a second part, the paper introduces and discusses the scientific grounds (for instance, wind effect) which govern the ventilation rates. Results of theoretical work are given and design methods in use in France, with theirinfluence on architecture conception, are featured.