Thermal Monocoques: An Energy Systems Laboratory

In this seminar, students will learn how to design material systems that orchestrate the flow of energy through buildings in novel ways. For these energy systems, the key to properly matching the grade of energy and reducing carbon intensity lies in designing heat-exchange devices that are in close thermal contact with the built environment. What is an energy system in architecture? Broadly, it is an element that contributes to the transfer, or conversion, of energy from one state to another. In this course, examples may be a personal comfort system, facade element, or the design of a building section.  

The seminar is centered on design-led learning with lectures and hands-on workshops. Through semester-long projects focused on practical building applications and proof-of-concept experimentation, student teams will explore topics related to building systems and performance, material characterization and processes, experimental methods, and design optimization. To help facilitate student learning, teams will be organized around a series of related technologies, or themes, on which their projects will build. Throughout the semester, students will be asked to couple their designs to whole-building energy flows to understand the energetic, atmospheric, and life cycle potential of their energy systems.

From this seminar students should gain an advanced understanding of thermodynamics in buildings, analytical and computational modeling techniques for early design decisions, a deep understanding of experimental methods, prototyping, and analysis, as well as a novel understanding of how the thermal performance of energy systems can be a catalyst for design in the built environment.