AUTHOR: Madlen Kobi
CONTEXT: Paper presentation in the workshop „On Edge: China’s Frontiers in a Time of Change“, Kandersteg (12.-14.10.2017)
KEYWORDS: urban architecture, thermal practices, China, urbanization,heating, air-conditioning
The vast territory of Xinjiang is characterized by large sand and stone deserts, high mountain ranges and a low population density. Architectural research often considers buildings and settlement practices as climate-responsive, in particular when it comes to the analysis of architecture in rural and small-scale settlements. This paper questions such a mono-causal relation between climate and architecture with research results about the construction of thermal comfort in urban multi-story and high-rise buildings in Ürümqi. Despite climate being associated with a local environment, socio-material practices to mitigate climate like air-conditioning systems, thermal standards and architectural designs expand beyond the place where the building is located. A thermal perspective on Ürümqi’s architecture outlines the spatial dimension of architecture and questions the “on edge” position of Xinjiang. Considering climate in architecture today also refers to the embeddedness of the built environment within the urban political ecology. Through its focus on the construction and use of urban residential buildings, the paper aims to methodologically and theoretically contribute to the field of architectural anthropology in cities.