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Environmental Comfort in the Living Heritage of the Chilean Araucanía: The Ruka Lafkenche and the Fogón Pehuenche

Christopher J. Whitman and Neil Turnbull, 2014
Indigenous architecture | environmental comfort | air quality | sustainable materials | Chile
Bibliographic info: 8th Windsor Conference, 10-13 April, 2014, Windsor UK
Languages: English

Indigenous architecture’s adaption to its climate and its use of local materials has attracted interest in the search for a sustainable built environment. In Chile surviving examples include the iconic Ruka Lafkenche and the little known Fogón Pehuenche. United by the world outlook of the Mapuche people, these two examples are located in different climates and as a result different construction systems have developed. This paper presents the results of a government funded research project, which studies their construction materials and techniques, and presents an evaluation of the previously unstudied internal environmental comfort. The results show that materials used are low carbon and locally resourced; open hearths achieve a comfortable globe temperature for those gathered around them; however they have little effect on the dry-bulb temperature and produce large quantities of ultrafine particulate matter. This poor indoor air quality presents a challenge for achieving internal environmental comfort. However the approach to the use of low impact, local, biodegradable materials is exemplary and provides valuable indications of how a sustainable and appropriate architecture might be developed for the Chilean Araucanía region. 

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