GSD Course Bulletin - Fall 2011

06433: The Environmental Performance of Tall Buildings (SCI 0643300)

Seminar - 4 credits - Limited enrollment
Thursday 8:30 - 11:30   Gund 508
Friday 10:00 - 1:00   Gund 508

Course Tools for this course (Canvas)

Joana Goncalves

Course Description

This course will meet for the first time on Thursday, September 8th.

This course embraces the overarching theme of the environmental performance of tall buildings proposing a critical review that covers issues related to the environmental performance of tall buildings from both urban and architectural perspectives. In this context, the typology of the tall building is taken as a motive to the study environmental design and its contemporary principles, methods and objectives, as the verticality imposes natural challenges to environmental design strategies, such as those associated with natural ventilation. Based on principles of building physics and fundamental analytical procedures, the course embraces a clear technical approach to the topic. Supported by theoretical references, research precedents and real case-study buildings from contemporary practice, the course reviews the latest thinking towards the topic of the environmental performance of tall buildings, culminating in the formulation of design hypothesis for the future of the "environmentally responsive" tall building.The first module, The Tall Building and The City, looks into the impacts of the tall building's typology upon the urban realm and its transforming effects, raising issues associate with urban mobility, social and economic vitality and, in particular, environmental conditions on the ground and the environmental impacts on surrounding buildings. In addition, a global perspective to the design approach of tall buildings is brought to the discussion within the context of sustainable development, assessing the environmental advantages and disadvantages of this typology in different climatic, urban and socioeconomic conditions. The second module addresses the theme of Environmental Design, exploring theories and principles of building physics applicable to architectural design, highlighting the role of climate and the importance of environmental requirements and occupants' expectations in the overall design and energy performance of buildings. A key part of the scope related to the study of environmental principles is the analysis of the impact of verticality in the environmental performance of buildings. In addition to that, the overview of environmental design principle shows the relative impact of different architectural parameters, such as building form and orientation, window wall ratio, shading, insulation and others and the importance of analytical studies. The topic of building environmental assessment is also carefully looked at, aiming for clear understanding of the fundamental criteria and performance standards, and their consequent design implications. Following the understanding of general principles, the third and fourth modules entitled The Iconic Office Tall Building and Residential Tall Buildings, respectively, investigate in more detail specific matters of the environmental performance of office and residential tall buildings, based on facts and figures from a number of case studies located in different parts of the world. In the case of the office tall buildings, examples are brought from London, Frankfurt, New York, Sao Paulo, Abu Dhabi and other cities. With respects to the residential use, buildings examples are also from various cities, including: London, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Pune and others. Within the overall context of existing buildings, the opportunities for retrofitting are introduced, supported by design applications. The critical review of case-studies draws lessons from the real-life environmental performance of buildings, revealing the impacts of specific architectural features within particular climatic contexts, alongside to the key influence of occupants and cultural parameters. The study of case-studies revisits the principles of environmental design and their validity within a variety of architectural possibilities and human interaction.Having learnt from theory and practice, the fifth module, Design Exercise, calls the attention to the challenges inherent in the architectural design of environmentally responsive tall buildings. The discussion about possible contribution between technical and creative design processes are based on successful precedents, whilst the resulting building proposals are critically reviewed. Furthermore, the specificities of analytical work are properly explained as well as its usefulness to inform architectural design, including the key role of computer simulations. The meaning and potential of generative and corrective design methods are also introduced, looking first to the evolution from environmental principles to architectural concepts and environmental hypothesis, moving into a second phase that deals with the communication between analytical work and effective architectural design. The review of design exercises has the underlying objective of demonstrating how the combination of technical knowledge and creative thinking can overcome pre-conceived environmental limitations. Concluding the critical review of the environmental performance of tall buildings, the sixth module, Green Economy, brings the current arguments about the value of environmental design, underlining the importance of architectural and environmental quality, besides the need for higher energy performance. In this case, the economic case for green buildings is justified in the context of more sustainable economies and urban development in both developed and developing countries, considering the challenges imposed by future climate change scenarios.

Irregular Schedule:
- September 8/9
- September 22/23
- October 6/7
- October 20/21
- November 3/4
- November 17/18
- December 1/2