Commenting on, representing, and describing the “air” is different than implementing it as an element of architectural design. For human use, untreated air can be found along the belt of the equatorial latitudes, where the temperatures and humidity perpetuate a flourishing natural environment; the aroma of warm seas or exuberant wild gardens. Toward the North or South, the air needs to be tempered and humidified. Near big cities or industrial sectors, air is filled with toxic particles, whereas in desertic or high agricultural regions, air needs to be filtered before it is breathable. In most of the Earth’s regions, air needs to be treated before it is fit for human use. In terms of air, we do not design objects, instead, we design relationships—symbiosis. As stated by John Evelyn in his writing Fumifugium: Or the Inconvenience of the Aer and Smoak of London Dissipated, “It seems absurd that men, who owe their lives to air, are not able to breathe it freely, but instead are allowed to live in misery,” when describing London’s air conditions in 1661. As Jonathan Hill has explained when writing Weather Architecture: A Historical Perspective, the coals used in London during that period were loaded with high quantities of sulfur dioxide. The combustion of this matter caused the dispersion of sulfuric acid throughout the air. That air (or rather, the sulfuric acid) covered every tiny surface, from buildings to monuments, from plants to lungs, from eyes to clothes. The use of metaphors and allegories in Fumifugium, by Evelyn, re-imagined the relationships between territory and subject, the air and the body. Evelyn makes us understand the whole body as a breathable skin instead of as an object equipped with a respiratory system. Following Evelyn’s ideas, air becomes for humans like water is for jellyfish. Air is a substance that fills every square millimeter of our living space, yet at the same time remains in a state of flux throughout our bodies.
Here is presented the history of Air through an Atlas of events, atmospheric disruptions or laws that traits the air as a construction matter.