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2007 Upjohn Research Reports

Nonlinear Systems Biology and Design: Surface Design

Researchers: Jenny E. Sabin and Peter L. Jones, University of Pennsylvania

We argue that through the analysis of biological design problems in specialized three-dimensional designer microenvironments, the architect is afforded new ways of thinking about sustainable design by understanding how dynamic and environmental feedback informs structure and form. Through the design of digital and algorithmic tools, we aim to escape the imitation of these biological structures (popularly known as biomimicry) in favor of biosynthesis, where new tools and models for performative surface architectures, membrane structures, and building systems may be generated. The intent of this research project is to foster new and ongoing dialogues between the disciplines of architecture and biology and to jointly investigate fundamental processes in living systems and their potential application in performative structures and sustainable buildings and vice versa.

Case Studies of Carbon Neutrality: Introduction

Case Studies: Chartwell School, East Portland Community Center, Gerding Theater, Orinda City Hall, Stephen Epler Hall, Tillamook Forest Center

Researcher: Alison Kwok, University of Oregon Pacific Energy Center

The Case Studies of Carbon Neutrality project will catalog the design and delivery process for carbon-neutral buildings through a series of case studies that describe design intent and actual performance. Research methodologies will include interviews with selected practitioners from architecture firms on the West Coast on the design process and strategies that delivered buildings that meet carbon neutrality. Performance outcomes will be measured by using a nationally implemented set of investigative protocols that focus on particular design strategies. By documenting the delivery process for carbon-neutral buildings, the barriers to sustainable practice will be better understood by examining the issues faced by design teams during the design process and the role of clients, consultants, and contractors. Examining the results of post occupancy performance will offer the architecture practice a means to “close the loop” of design lessons learned in building design.

Eco-Effective Design and Evidence-Based Design: Removing Barriers to Integration

Researchers: Bill Rostenberg, Anshen + Allen Architects; Mara Baum and Mardelle Shepley, Texas A&M University

Eco-effective design and evidence-based design are two powerful trends currently shaping health care architecture. Eco-effective design, similarly known as sustainable design, addresses the design and operation of buildings to support improved ecological health and indoor environmental quality. Evidence-based design addresses the design and operation of buildings to support positive health outcomes in hospitals through a growing collection of solutions informed by research and practical knowledge. Although both trends have had a significant impact on recent health care architecture, they are generally executed separately and are considered by many be at odds with one another.

This study will begin to bridge the perceived gap between both goals by proposing a structure through which design teams can effectively integrate them into the design process. The researchers will identify 15 “centers of excellence” for both evidence-based design and eco-effective design; compile case study information on each; and survey one or two administrators of each, including persons knowledgeable about physical, clinical, and operational drivers and the facility’s environmental impacts. It is anticipated that some projects will be identified under both categories; these will be of special interest. Researchers will follow up with additional surveys and telephone interviews of administrators and project design teams, as necessary. Researchers will analyze and tabulate possible conflicts and synergies between specific strategies and practices.

Passageways/Portes et Passages du Retour

Researchers: Coleman Jordan, Muhsana Ali, Paula Gerstenblatt, David Challier, and Mamadou Sarr, University of Michigan

Passageways is an interdisciplinary association made up of artists, academics, architects, scientists, and related professionals that promotes holistic development in Africa. Holistic is defined as the accentuation of the integral relationship between various aspects of society, including environmental, technological, cultural, and social. Through this approach, Passageways seeks to develop community-based projects and promote intercultural and interdisciplinary exchange in visual culture and science between Africans and the world community. Passageways is presently developing a Holistic Art Center in Mbodiene, a rural area of Senegal, where it possesses 10 acres of land. The targeted project for this proposal is the design and construction of our first model building, which will serve as the nucleus for all of the Holistic Art Center's activities, incorporating aspects of the utilitarian elements of all subsequent buildings in order to facilitate immediate functioning of the establishment.

The primary focus of this initiative is environmental, the secondary is technological. Our approach seeks to make use of local, recycled, and natural resources. We will incorporate the latest in renewable energy technology with a focus on self-sufficiency (e.g., wells, irrigation systems, composting toilets, biogas, and passive solar and renewable energy). Technological studies include use of materials such as overabundant seaweed as a replacement for straw in bale-building (due to its high-level termite protection and usefulness in climate control); use of local earth-rich clay for brick and tile making, and cow dung and clay mixtures for brick forms.


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