By Lauren Hale
In the midst of mid-review craziness, I’m going to post my thesis abstract, problem statement, and proposal since I haven’t addressed it yet and will update on how mid-reviews went in my next blog:
Three major energy sectors exist in the United States: industrial, transportation, and buildings. The built environment uses the most energy out of all three sectors. Energy consumption patterns in the life-cycle of a building must change; therefore, the field of architecture needs to make extraordinary strides in energy efficiency through the use of environmental design principles known as “regenerative design,” in combination with new forms of technology that harness energy.
Regenerative design aims to turn consumption patterns from linear throughput models to closed loop models. Currently, the industrial use pattern is: take, use, and discard. This applies to many processes, especially the life-cycle of a building, from the transportation of materials to the job site, all the way to the disposal of the building. This is considered degenerative. The goal of regenerative design is to replace what has been used by designing to actively heal the environment.
Untapped energy sources are many, but one in particular is the motion of the human body. By capturing the energy of a body in motion, which would normally dissipate into the floor, electricity can be produced to power the very building the person is activating. Walking, dancing, running, and playing can all be sources of energy for the building, so this project proposes a fine arts performance center integrated with recreational program. By using regenerative design and energy-capture floor systems, the ultimate goal of this project is to produce more energy than was taken.
The architecture firm is first and foremost a business. There are many factors that play a role in the completion of every project such as, clients, deadlines, and budgets. These constraints placed on the design side by the business side put pressure on the decision-making processes, and unfortunately result in “bad” buildings. In the framework for this project, a bad building is one that contributes to the linear throughput model of consumption which,
…like most human inventions but unlike nature’s recycling material flows, has a linear time dimension built in with a descending curve: eventually a one-way system destroys the landscapes on which it depends. The clock is always running and the flows always approaching the time when they can flow no more. In its very essence, this is a degenerative system, devouring its own sources of sustenance (Lyle 5).
Because firms prioritize so many things over environmental impact, the built environment is doing just that: not prioritizing energy and resource use. Now as a result, the built environment is the top consumer of the three energy sectors of the United States, the other two being transportation and industry. Buildings are taking but never giving back, but it’s no fault of the building; it’s ours.
This thesis project proposes to establish where architectural practice’s priorities should be focused: in the creation of buildings whose consumption patterns are not linear, but cyclical. By using a combination of “old” and “new” technologies and approaches, this design project can become the solution that meets the current and future generations’ energy and resource needs.
“Old” techniques are referring to a back-to-basics approach. Architects and designers need to pay attention to elementary, yet essential design principles. They are defined as elementary because every architect should have learned them early in their education. For example, principles like being aware of sun angles on a site and designing fenestration accordingly. This project will take it a step further as far as technical responses to the site, with a set of forward-thinking principles called regenerative design.
“New” technologies are defined in this project as, ideas, concepts, inventions and systems which we have only begun to imagine. There is no foundational knowledge to base these design implementations on; only research, learning and experimentation. The design for the proposed fine arts and recreation center will use new technology in the form of energy-capture floor systems. Encouraging human movement through intense, active, healthy, athletic participation benefits the users, and the environment in which they are occupying.