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How does environment influence architecture?

So often we disregard the environment when thinking of construction, we fell trees, level ground etc. In other words, the environment changes because of architecture. In this article, we take a look at examples of how architecture can be influenced by its environment – rather than vice-versa.

Bermudan Architecture

One of the most prominent demonstrations of environment influencing architecture is in older Mediterranean buildings, such as those in Bermuda. Known for their colourful facades, the buildings have featured clean white roofs for centuries.

Traditionally, the roofs would be made from local limestone in order to achieve lasting white colouring, but are not built this way for purely cosmetic reasons.

Without the option of fans or air conditioning, architects are faced with the challenge of how to keep people cool in hot environments. Painting the exterior of a property white, particularly the roof, can help to reduce the interior temperature of the building.

Anjali Jaiswal, of the US-based Natural Resources Defence Council claims that, “Depending on the setting, cool roofs (those that have been whitewashed with a reflective paint) can help keep indoor temperatures lower by 2C to 5C as compared to traditional roof.”

Over the last few centuries, white roofing has been a key feature of Bermuda architecture – so much so, that Bermuda Architecture rules and regulations now requires all buildings, including private homes, to have white-washed roofs. This is a clear and indisputable demonstration of environment influencing architecture.


The famous architecture of Bermuda adapts to its environment in more ways than one. In Bermuda there is no surface water suitable for drinking. Even today, rainfall is the primary source of fresh water providing between 50-70% of the freshwater used in households. Groundwater makes up the rest. So, it is no surprise that around 400 years ago roofs began to be designed in such a way so that they are able to collect rainwater.

Again, this clearly shows how environment influences architecture. These cleverly designed roofs are a direct result of the lack of surface drinking water available.

Modern day

Of course nowadays most people will simply switch on the AC when it gets a bit too warm, or are able to turn a tap and get fresh drinking water. The truth is that in the modern western world, advancements in technology have largely eradicated the need for a building to adapt to the existing environment.

A similar issue you would be likely to face when developing property is dealing with listed buildings. Due to the protected nature of the buildings, an architect has to adapt their design to the existing property in the same way architects had to adapt to the Bermudan environment.

To find out more about how architects work within the restrictions of listed buildings, take a look at a recent grade II listed home extension project, completed by KJ Architects, or get in touch with a member of the team.



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T: 01638 662393
How does environment influence architecture?