Systems, sites, and building a class I knew very little to nothing about at the beginning. I have heard the term sustainability, and green architecture before but I didn’t really knew what all these terms entailed. To me sustainable architecture involved solar panels and roof gardens. However, as I have learned this semester it is so much more than that. It involves the function of a building and how the building interacts with the environment to provide a much healthier and more efficient living environment. If I had to choose a class that was the most important to me in terms of my development as a young architect, this would be the one. I’ve learned that we as architects have a much larger responsibility than to design aseptically pleasing structures. Our duty and our impact on the future extend beyond what meets the eye. I once heard a quote that states how technology is the embodiment of our future, and architecture is the skin. Architecture is our direct connection to the environment in which we live, and in order to protect the world we live in architecture is the first defense, just as the skin on our body. There a lot of valuable lessons that I will take from this class and apply them into my studio projects as well as in practice. (When that day finally does come).
Bioclimatic Towers are one the newest forms of conceptual architecture that allows for passive ventilation strategies to be exploited for energy, form, and function of a building. It’s a new way to design modern high-rise buildings. The idea of this concepts is for the most part still in the imaginary phase, but as we continue to push for new ways to be more efficient and passive towards energy consumption, this is an idea that could very well take off soon. We have seen one example in class of a project that has already been built that uses these ideas to an extent to shape the facade of a building. However, recent designs call for a more radical integration of this concept into the structure and design of a building. The Helices Tower by Julia Koerner is just one example of this idea. Her design translate this idea from a two dimensional facade, to a more three dimensional form that begins to influence the interior spaces and programmatic arrangement. The form of the building is influenced by the pattern of the wind almost as if the building was once solid and eroded over the years allowing for the wind to define its final geometry. This also allows for the spaces within the building to be fully ventilated from the exterior winds that the building captures. The twisting helix shape also works to shade the interior while protecting the building from the intense winds of a high elevation. There are many other example of this idea taking shape. Its an idea that is very interesting, efficient, and very appealing formally. Just as any idea that is new and ‘radical’ it only takes one precedent such as the Helices Tower for this idea to really take root and push the future of architecture even further.
The Oasis in the Dessert is a project that was designed to be a theme park in a sense and house such programs as an arcade, playground, theater, a public park, and playground that would be situated in climates that is concerned unsuitable. Visitors will be able to inhibit extreme temperatures through a series of innovated cooling techniques such as evaporative cooling, stack affect air passage, and heavy shading to create a micro-climate in conditions that are otherwise to extreme. It is interesting to see these techniques in use to make climates that are extreme, inhabitable thus expanding human developments through passive cooling techniques rather than just relying on Air conditioning units. Perhaps the most interesting factor is that these techniques which are more commonly used in buildings in conjunction with HVAC systems to create a microclimate outdoors that is dramatically different than the surrounding environment. Behnisch Architects collaborate with structural and mechanical engineers to develop a structure that consist of tall Leaf structures to create these cool climates. The leaves serve as energy collectors that are layers with photovoltaic cells that collect solar energy. The height of the leaves provide enough shading and protection from the intensity of the sun, while acting like chimneys with a stack effect pulling the hot warm up through the top of the flower. This project, similar to the Oberlin project is one that can bring people together in a way that can educate the public about these new ideas which are beginning to take root through a sense of community, while allowing people to actually experience these systems at work.
The Oberlin Project is a new project that is beginning to take shape and is in the process of moving from the drawing board and into conception. It is a joint project that is being backed by the community of Oberlin, Ohio as well as the college. The project has five goals which all revolve around creating this new vision of full spectrum sustainability. Some of these goals include creating a “green belt” that surrounds the community which will create jobs and farms which will then supply food to the community. Perhaps one of the most unique aspects of this project is the partnership that it has with not only the college, but four other local schools that will engage both the local teenagers and college community. The idea of creating one giant school, in which ideas about sustainability are taught throughout the entire community, which to me is an aspect that will drive the notion of creating a green future farther. New ideas of sustainability are always being achieved and creating a community where the learning never stops will drive the idea of creating a green future which will not be limited by a lack of motivation to invent new ways to think about sustainability. After hearing about this project which was brought up by one of our guest lecture’s it made me want to research more about how this idea was being set into motion. These new ways of thinking are helpful and are pushed further when there is an entire community backing the efforts and are involved in every step along the way. However, it seems that these projects are only at a rather small scale which makes it easier to gain the support of those involved. Reading about a project like this raises the question to me of how these set of ideas and initiatives can be applied to my hometown of Alexandria, Virginia which is at a much larger scale than Oberlin. It seems as if these ways of thinking have not yet embedded themselves into the context of a larger scale, which I know is something that will take time. It is however, pleasing to see these ideas spread and take root throughout the country giving precedence to a new way of living and thinking.
The Section above is showing the Ventilation of the building. The first five floors will recieve air from the east while the hot air rises to be released on the fifth above the adjacent building, while the remaining floors will recieve cross ventilation through the building.
The diagrams above shows how the monk cells recieve light and air into the space while being manipulated by the verticle louvers that align an exterior space that is shared between two cells across from one another. Each room has a set of louvers that can be operated based upon the preference of the individual. The first diagram shows how light can be manipulated and reflected into the cell, and how on the other hand how light can be blocked so that a minimal amount of light is able to penetrate into the room. The second diagram depicts how air is received from the east and flows through the rest of the building. Simular to light the verticle louvers provide a degree of manipulation allowing for more or less air to circulate through the space.
The diagrams above depict how air is circulated from on room to the next and the particians that allow for the movement of air between multiple spaces. The second diagram shows how the material which is mostly made up of concrete acts as a thermal mass to heat the room as the sun shines on the exterior wall throughout the course of the day.
In my project I worked to manipulated the light that is recieved by the chapel to make the space as spiritual and special as possible. One way that I did this was by letting small amounts of light into the chapel that would create an ambiant effect on the walls and ceiling to create an illusion as if the ceiling was floating on top of you. While the photographs below are a series of light studies of a model that I built in order to represent how light is being manipulated in the chapel by the lattice work creating special lighting effects such as glaring light through the narrow openings in the wall as well as projecting the pattern of the wall onto the floor giving the ground a distinct texture.
The reading on thermally active surfaces described the benefit of including thermally active surfaces within the design of a building, contrasting it to conventional HVAC units which are not as efficent and waste energy and money. One key point that was brough up in the reading was the fact that by designing to include thermally active surfaces it brings a whole new meaning to architecture, rather than just designing an envolope for the human figure we are able to design a fully functional space for living that is adaptive to the enviornment around it. Instead of a building that is controlled by the standard HVAC system. Which, got me to thinking about this system at the scale of a home. While at home for Thanksgiving break, I observed our hearting and cooling unit and how it works to regulate the tempature in our home. I noticed that the warmest area of the home was on the upper floors where bedrooms are, which makes sense because heat rises. The coldest level of the house was the basement, where my room was and I also noticed that the vents where situated in the ceiling which did not make much sense for the simple fact that the heat would rise to the upper portion of the house before it even had a chance to warm the air in the basement, unlike a thermally active system which radiates heat from the floor. This type of system would also warm the most active area at the house wherever the most people are. The thermally active system would work to warm the space just as the human body works to keep our core tempature warm. Just as the body uses blood (a liquid) to warm the body, a thermally active system would use water to heat a space which is the best medium for transporting heat and more effiecent that air.
The perception of light and how we percieve the luminous enviornment is a judgement that changes from person to person depending on the condition around us and the expectation of the individual of how they expect to evaluate a given space. As described in The Process of Visual Perception reading, how we percieve light is dependant on the characteristics of the space and our expectations of that space. For an example when elements in the visual field effect our abality percieve information, we often label that space to be either too bright or too dim, when in fact that may not be true based upon the measurments recieved. Two examples of how light can make a space feel “comfortable” are from situations that I experienced in New York at Time Square during the day and night.
During the day time on a sunny day we expect a lot of light and we expect objects to be brightly illuminated, even brighter than the blue sky above. Ground objects are brighter and well defined by the shadows it cast making the space feel right, bright and cheerful. In comparison to an area that is situated in heavy shade when objects appear to be darker than the blue sky above and shawdows are not able emphasize a firgure, the space begins to feel dark, gloomy, and depressing. This photo is a perfect ecample of a space that feels right versus a space that feels uncomfortable and out of place based off our expectations.
Another example of how the use of light can make a space feel right is at Time square during the night. The dark night sky tends to make a space feel gloomy, however at in an enviornment such as Time square we judge the street scene to be brightly illuminated because of the focus of light on the building facade. Although the night sky above is dim, dark, and has a luminous level that is way lower than during the day the positive focus of light on the buildings works to eliminate the sense of visual gloom or sense of dimness. While at time square because of all the light and how bright the space seemed the fact that it was night time never seemed to eliminate the comfortable feeling I had withing the space. At even when times when it was 2 a.m. it never seemed to be as late as it really was because I was not aware of the visual gloom of the night sky.