In all ages, man has tried to improve the performance of their homes, both in terms of comfort and hygiene. To obtain these results, he first tried to make the most of what nature had made immediately available to him: sites suitable for building, natural shelters, soil protection, sunlight and heat from the sun, as well as materials to be used. construction (wood, stone, earth, clay, etc.).
This led, first on an intuitive level, then on an artisan level, an attention that constituted the ante-litteram “architecture”: the choice of the site for the building, the choice of the best orientation towards solar exposure and of the winds, the choice of building materials, the “project” of the housing typology and its structure.
Over time, the architectural project lost its artisanal character, to assume more and more a technological character. With the increase of knowledge and technological skills, man exploited in an increasingly complex way the possibilities offered by nature, creating artifacts that could improve the quality of his homes. The sites were thus modified, bricks, glass, sewage systems, insulation, etc. were made. Until the nineteenth century. however, attention to the sustainability of an architectural project was still fundamental, especially due to the limits deriving from the scarcity of the energy resources available.
Since the seventies, the need was felt to verify whether this condition did not hide problems. In fact, in that period occurs:
the development of ecological ideas;
the emergence of health concerns due to pollution;
the evidence of the problem of energy supply linked to the availability of fossil fuels.
What has undergone a great boost is the research on pollutants in the built environment, precisely because it is the one that has immediate health aspects. Then, with the cost of fossil fuels rising, the aspect that has begun to generate more interest is that related to energy saving. One of the effects of these new impulses is a return of the attention of the architectural project to nature and the resources it offers us.
Today, sustainable architecture strives to have a systemic vision, as broad as possible, which deals with the problem of the built in its whole “function-man-nature” relationship, considering buildings, not only as shelters, but as sustenance of life.