Forms of Energy: Maximum Power Design

Few words can transform the formation and functions of architecture in this century more than a deep and pervasive recognition that matter is but an expression of captured energy. Material practices are actually but a subset of energy practices. This seminar tables the theories, techniques and technologies of an architectural agenda for energy. In the 2013 Forms of Energy seminar, we will focus on maximum power formations of emergy in various building systems and forms. It is essential today to grasp the formations of energy inherent in building systems: their hierarchy of emergy. The second, more important, task is to discern the potential feedbacks of those systems and their emergy. These feedbacks will operate at multiple scales: from physiological responses, to microclimatic effects, to labor, and to global carbon cycles. The seminar discussion and project work will aim to maximize the power of architecture by aiming to maximize its feedbacks: from body, to building, to city, to region, and to planet. The focus is how architecture can best capture and channel multiple forms of energy towards the most architecturally and ecologically exuberant ends. To this end, the seminar is equally technical and formal in its ambitions. A primary design research project will document the emergy formation and capacities of a basic architectural system: wood, concrete, or masonry. There is a large range of possibilities within this relatively limited set of materials: we don’t know what wood, for instance, can really even do. The seminar advances knowledge of basic thermodynamic, physiological and ecological systems theories through readings, discussion, and research.