This article examines the paradox of passive solar architecture within the Nordic context of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Regulative developments to reduce space heating demand since the 1970s oil crisis are explored, highlighting architectural responses and the rise in prom-inence of passive solar design. An empirical study of passive solar housing schemes docu-ments architectural strategy, energy savings and extensive problems with overheating. A theo-retical study examines how passive solar was seen as advantageous when viewed with the 1985-2005 space heating paradigm, but actually resulted in the diametrically opposite, with ex-tensive overheating and greater primary energy consumption, when viewed with the 2005-2020 environmental paradigm. The paradox of passive solar is then explored with a discussion of how the regulative straightjacket of the space heating paradigm and the functionalist ideals of Nordic modernism meant that passive solar architecture became the de-facto visual, aesthetic and functional expression of environmental design at that time. The article concludes by explor-ing the implications of the environmental paradigm for the architectural profession. By positing the architectural advantages of daylight and the studio typology, it is shown that overheating can be eliminated and primary energy consumption reduced with diametrically opposite design strategies.
Journal of Architecture, 2017, Vol 22, Issue 2, p. 225-251