[IELTS] Reading 14 T2P2 – Back to the future of skyscraper design

Back to the future of skyscraper design

Answers to the problem of excessive electricity use (sự tiêu thụ điện quá mức) by skyscrapers and large public buildings can be found in ingenious but forgotten architectural designs (thiết kế kiến trúc khéo léo nhưng bị quên lãng) of the 19th and early-20th centuries.


The Recovery of Natural Environments in Architecture by Professor Alan Short is the culmination (đỉnh cao) of 30 years of research and award-winning green building design by Short and colleagues in Architecture, Engineering, Applied Maths and Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge.

‘The crisis (khủng hoảng) in building design is already here,’ said Short. ‘Policy makers think you can solve energy and building problems with gadgets (máy móc). You can’t. As global temperatures continue to rise, we are going to continue to squander (hoang phí) more and more energy on keeping our buildings mechanically cool (làm mát các tòa nhà) until we have run out of capacity (hết công suất) (run out: dùng hết).’


Short is calling for a sweeping (tổng quát) reinvention (tái tạo) of how skyscrapers and major public buildings are designed – to end the reliance (n, sự nương tựa) on sealed buildings (tòa nhà bịt kín, ý chỉ những tòa nhà luôn kín mít dùng điều hòa) which exist solely via the ‘life support’ system (hệ thống cứu rỗi cuộc sống) of vast air conditioning units (máy điều hòa khổng lồ).

Instead, he shows it is entirely possible (hoàn toàn khả thi) to accommodate (đặt) natural ventilation and cooling (quạt thông gió và làm mát tự nhiên) in large buildings by looking into the past, before the widespread (rộng rãi) introduction of air conditioning systems, which were ‘relentlessly and aggressively marketed’ by their inventors. 18(điều hòa được quảng bá liên tục và mạnh mẽ)


Short points out that to make most contemporary buildings (những toàn nhà hiện tại) habitable (có thể ở được), they have to be sealed and air conditioned. The energy use and carbon emissions this generates (tạo ra) is spectacular (nhiều) and largely unnecessary (không quá cần thiết). Buildings in the West account for (chiếm, dùng trong writing Task 1) 40-50% of electricity usage (lượng tiêu thụ điện), generating substantial (đáng kể) carbon emissions, and the rest of the world is catching up at a frightening rate (đang bắt kịp với tốc độ đáng sợ). Short regards glass, steel and air-conditioned skyscrapers as symbols of status, rather than practical ways of meeting our requirements.15 Short cho rằng cửa kính, khung thép và mấy tòa nhà có điều hòa chỉ phô trương sự giàu có, chứ không đáp ứng nhu cầu của chúng ta (meet = đáp ứng)


Short’s book highlights a developing and sophisticated art and science (tính nghệ thuật và khoa học đang phát triển và tinh vi) of ventilating buildings (tòa nhà thông gió) through the 19th and earlier-20th centuries, including the design of ingeniously ventilated hospitals . Of particular interest (sự quan tâm cụ thể) were those (những tòa nhà đó) built to the designs (được xây theo thiết kế) of John Shaw Billings,19 including the first Johns Hopkins Hospital in the US city of Baltimore (1873-1889).

‘We spent three years digitally modelling (tạo mô hình số) Billings’ final designs,’ says Short. ‘We put pathogens*(mầm bệnh) in the airstreams, modelled for someone with tuberculosis (TB)20,21 (bệnh lao) coughing in the wards and we found the ventilation systems in the room would have kept other patients safe from harm.17


* pathogens: microorganisms that can cause disease


‘We discovered that 19th-century hospital wards could generate up to 24 air changes an hour 22(lên đến 24 sự thay đổi không khí trong một giờ) – that’s similar to the performance of a modern-day16, computer-controlled operating theatre (bằng với công nghệ tiên tiến được điều khiển bằng máy tính). We believe you could build wards based on these principles now.

Single rooms are not appropriate (phù hợp) for all patients. Communal wards (phòng bệnh chung) appropriate for certain patients 23– older people with dementia (chứng mất trí), for example – would work just as well in today’s hospitals (kiểu bệnh viện hiện nay), at a fraction of the energy cost (một phần nhỏ chi phí năng lượng).’

Professor Short contends (cho rằng) the mindset and skill-sets behind these designs have been completely lost (tư duy và một loạt kĩ năng đàng sau những thiết kế này đã hoàn toàn mai một), lamenting (tiếc cho) the disappearance of expertly designed theatres, opera houses, and other buildings (các tòa nhà, nhà hát được thiết kế chuyên nghiệp) where up to half the volume (hơn nửa số lượng) of the building was given over (give over = dừng hoạt động) to ensuring everyone got fresh air.


Much of the ingenuity present in 19th-century hospital and building design was driven (được thúc đẩy) by a panicked public clamouring24 (một sự phản đối đây lo lắng của cộng đồng) for buildings that could protect against what was thought to be the lethal threat (mối nguy chết người) of miasmas – toxic air that spread disease. 25 Miasmas were feared as the principal agents (bị quan ngại là tác nhân chính) of disease and epidemics (dịch bệnh) for centuries, and were used to explain the spread of infection from the Middle Ages right through to the cholera (bệnh tả) outbreaks in London and Paris during the 1850s.26 Foul air (khí độc), rather than germs (mầm bệnh), was believed to be the main driver (tác nhân chính) of ‘hospital fever’, leading to disease and frequent death. The prosperous steered clear of hospitals. 14(người giàu chọn tránh xa các bệnh viện)

While miasma theory has been long since disproved (bác bỏ), Short has for the last 30 years advocated (ủng hộ) a return to some of the building design principles (những nguyên lý thiết kế tòa nhà) produced in its wake (= behind or after it, theo sau nguyên lý miasma).


Today, huge amounts of a building’s space and construction cost are given over (bị loại bỏ) to air conditioning (họ bỏ bớt không gian và chi phí xây dựng để dành cho điều hòa). ‘But I have designed and built a series of buildings over the past three decades which have tried to reinvent some of these ideas (tái tại một số ý tưởng đó) and then measure what happens (tính toán xem chuyện gì xảy ra).

‘To go forward into our new low-energy, low-carbon future (tương lai dùng ít năng lượng và carbon), we would be well advised to look back (nhìn lại) at design before our high-energy, high-carbon present appeared. What is surprising is what a rich legacy (tài nguyên phong phú) we have abandoned (bỏ rơi).’


Successful examples of Short’s approach (những ví dụ thành công cho phương pháp của Short) include the Queen’s Building at De Montfort University in Leicester. Containing as many as 2,000 staff and students, the entire building is naturally ventilated, passively cooled and naturally lit (thông gió tự nhiên, làm mát thụ động và thắp sáng tự nhiên), including the two largest auditoria (hội trường), each seating more than 150 people (sức chứa hơn 150 người). The award-winning building uses a fraction of the electricity of comparable buildings (những tòa nhà tương đương) in the UK.

Short contends that glass skyscrapers in London and around the world will become a liability (mối lo ngại) over the next 20 or 30 years if climate modelling predictions (dự báo kiểu khí hậu) and energy price rises come to pass as expected.(như dự kiến)


He is convinced that sufficiently cooled skyscrapers using the natural environment can be produced in almost any climate (kiểu tòa nhà làm mát bằng môi trường tự nhiên có thể được xây dựng trong mọi kiểu khí hậu). He and his team have worked on hybrid (=mix) buildings in the harsh climates (khí hậu khắc nghiệt) of Beijing and Chicago – built with natural ventilation assisted by back-up air conditioning (xây hệ thống thông gió tự nhiên để dự phòng cho điều hòa)– which, surprisingly perhaps, can be switched off (chuyển đổi) more than half the time on milder days (ngày ấm áp) and during the spring and autumn. (Hệ thống dự phòng đó được sử dụng hơn nửa thời gian những ngày ấm áp trong suốt mùa xuân và thu)

Short looks at how we might reimagine (nghĩ lại) the cities, offices and homes of the future. Maybe it’s time we changed our outlook.

Bài này câu hỏi khá dễ, không bẫy nhiều, nhưng cần biết một số từ mới trong bài thì mới làm được.

Questions 14-18

Reading Passage 2 has nine section, A-I
Which section contains the following information?
Write the correct letter, A-I, in boxes 14-18 on your answer sheet.

14   why some people avoided hospitals in the 19th century (advoid = steered clear)- F

15   a suggestion that the popularity of tall buildings is linked to prestige (thanh thế = symbol of status) – C

16   a comparison between the circulation of air in a 19th-century building and modern standards (= that’s similar to …) – E

17   how Short tested the circulation of air in a 19th-century building – D

18   an implication that advertising led to the large increase in the use of air conditioning – B

Questions 19-26

Complete the summary below.
Choose ONE WORD ONLY from the passage for each answer.
Write your answers in boxes 19-26 on your answer sheet.

Ventilation in 19th-century hospital wards

Professor Alan Short examined the work of John Shaw Billings, who influenced the architectural 19 ……design(s)…… of hospitals to ensure they had good ventilation. He calculated that 20 ……pathogens….. in the air coming from patients suffering from 21…tuberculosis… would not have harmed other patients. He also found that the air in 22…wards…. In hospitals could change as often as in a modern operating theatre. He suggests that energy use could be reduced by locating more patients in 23 ……communal…. areas.

A major reason for improving ventilation in 19th-century hospitals was the demand from the 24 ……public….. for protection against bad air, known as 25 ……miasmas…… These were blamed for the spread of disease for hundreds of years, including epidemics of 26……cholera……… in London and Paris in the middle of the 19th century.

Trả lời

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