Ambient Architecture

Ambient Architecture

Coinciding with the codification of architectural practice, the course of the 20th century saw the progressive mechanization of architectural space. The modification of climate for the construction of comfort is arguably a fundamental basis of architecture, and the concurrent development of technological advancements and the ever-expanding bureaucratic and legislative institutions managing design and construction gave rise to the now pervasive homeostatic comfort system.

Through this standardization, and the dichotomic view of exterior environment and conditioned interior that it promotes, the environmental performance of architecture has been distilled into the air-tight envelope.

Today, codified comfort emphasizes the automated, the homogenous, the predictable. Yet, this pursuit of an air-tight architecture has the potential to lull us into a false sense of thermal security in an anthropocentric age that certainly demands our awareness.

Is it possible therefore to re-imagine comfort solutions that are intended to inform not only the climatic performance of the construction but at the same time choreograph an alternative programmatic use of space that is in concert with the variable exterior and that reacquaints the occupant with the system?

To think about architecture using the framework of ambient elicits not only questions of climate, temperature, and weather — all fundamental concerns of the discipline — but also speaks to the idea of something more ambiguous — a mood, a tone, or a feeling.

Referencing the work of media theorist Paul Roquet, this pursuit of ambience is intentionally privileged over concepts of atmosphere. While atmosphere presents a more objective condition of the surrounding environment, ambient, as described by Roquet, implies a mediation of these prevailing conditions by the human senses.

This notion of ambient speaks to an architectural condition whereby an individual undergoes a process of attunement; achieving some sense of fleeting harmony or resonance with one’s environment; fleeting in the fact that ambient environments are ever-changing, and demand a continuous process of attunement.

This exhibition presents seven projects by Los Angeles-based architects clovisbaronian that seek qualities which may in turn begin to describe an ambient architecture: layered space, soft monoliths, gradients of conditioning, and aesthetics of environmental performance.

These projects approach these themes through traditional single- and multi-family buildings in parallel with research and installation works, all operating in a variety of contexts and scales. Ultimately, this work seeks to reframe the dialogue of sustainable practice by arguing for a reconsideration of our assumed notions of comfort in lieu of solely increasing technical performance. 

About the Team

Georgina Baronian
2022–23 Howard E. LeFevre ’29 Emerging Practitioner Fellow


  • Allison Summers
  • Ana Adams
  • Christian Heidenreich
  • Diya Patel
  • Gabrielle Newman
  • Karlie Rainer
  • Martha Lissette Reyes Palomino
  • Nolan Payne
  • Omar Alvarado
  • Timothy Liou 



The Banvard Gallery is open and exhibiting works during the 2022–23 academic year. Hours for the gallery are 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Monday–Friday.

The Banvard Gallery is located on the first floor of  Knowlton Hall.