This section is from the book "The Principles And Practice Of Modern House-Construction", by G. Lister Sutcliffe. Also available from Amazon: How Your House Works: A Visual Guide to Understanding & Maintaining Your Home.
To talk of a house being airy almost sends a shiver through some people, airiness being supposed to be synonymous with coldness and draughtiness. This is certainly not the meaning of the word which it is here intended to convey. By airiness is meant that condition of the house and its surroundings which ensures an adequate supply of fresh air to every corner both within and without the house. In other words, airiness is the converse of closeness and stuffiness. The rate of circulation within the house should be so gentle as to be imperceptible; outside it is best, except in the bleakest of situations, that the winds should have free play.
In the country external airiness can usually be attained, hut architects sometimes go out of their way to prevent it by building deep and narrow recesses, or by arranging the house around a central quadrangle or court. In towns the problem is more difficult, and stringent regulations are necessary in order to prevent the repetition of those strfling courts and alleys which are the disgrace of most of our large towns. The death-rate in the slums of a town is often more than double that in the more favoured suburbs.
Loftiness of rooms is an important factor in promoting internal airiness. In this respect continental buildings compare favourably with ours. In this country the minimum height of living-rooms and bedrooms as presentied by building-regulations is usually 8 feet 6 inches or 9 feet, a height which in small rooms gives an utterly inadequate air-space for the occupants and renders ventilation extremely difficult.
In promoting the airiness of the house, ventilation of course plays an important part, and this will be discussed in a subsequent section, but much can be done by a proper disposition of rooms and passage, and a thoughtful arrangement of windows and door-fanlights made to open, especially those in halls, landings, and passages; the windows should extend as near to the ceiling as possible. Just as there should not be any corner where light does not shine, so there ought not to be any place where fresh air cannot circulate; stagnation means impurity.