Workshop activities








Blog Post 8: Revisting Resiliency

Recently the term resiliency has become frequently used when talking about sustainability and ecosystems, but what does resiliency really mean? In the reading Resilience Practice Brian Walker and David Salt define resiliency as having four main origins; psychological, ecological, disaster relief and military, and engineering (Walker 2).  In this particular writing, the authors define resiliency as the ability to cope with shock and keep functioning in much the same kind of way (Walker 3).  Understanding that the word identity is very much central to the meaning of resiliency is key in understanding its role in social-ecological systems. I think by looking at resiliency through this particular lens is helpful in further understanding an earlier discussion of resiliency in the semester.

Thinking about recent disasters that have destroyed coastline cities, give opportunities to architects to help rethink and redesign cities with a greater understanding of factors that expand outside of just the design field. However, White Arkitekter design firm’s winning entry of the design competition “For a Resilient Rockaway” focuses on pushing past the meaning of resiliency to a new term as they call “antifragile”. The design competition was a four-phrase entry that focused on the rebuilding of the Rockaway Peninsula on Long Island after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy (Photo 1). The firm believes that resiliency implies a certain return to something that was damaged to its original form and argues the Rockaway Peninsula must not return to the past but push to improve the conditions for the generations to come (Archdaily). Their solution was to create an authentic urban development that integrated a mix of housing types supported by commercial and public spaces and social places(Photo 2).

ImagePhoto 1

ImagePhoto 2

 The firm also suggested a series of small step interventions that they describe to be adaptable, feasible, affordable and smart. This small intervention approach was also captivating because it allowed for the design itself to become flexible and mold to the needs of the community. The firm describes the project to be adjustable and central to the growth and development of the community of the Rockaways, and even their design approach suggests a new type of design process. Their approach to resiliency also focuses on the dangers of excluding certain socio-economic classes as well as the practical threat of future disasters. The design includes a protected nature preserve, a series of offshore sandbanks, storm water parks, and a beach landscape that weaves nature into the plan (Photo 3).

 ImagePhoto 3

The goal of the firm was to develop a community from the existing strengths and form a symbiotic relationship with the environment and use the analogy of a surfer and the ocean (Archdaily). The design seeks to redefine what resilience means and push further to create affordable living for all socio-economic groups and create a diverse community. To protect from natural disasters, water is not forced away form the boardwalk but directed into storm water parks and redirected as it flows into the community. The boardwalk becomes flexible and both uses resiliency to rebuild the economics of the community by creating commercial spaces and protects the community from the ecological threats (Photo 4). This type of engaging architecture is thought to create an impacting environment for future generations.
 ImagePhoto 4

These methods of resilient design approach can extend to multiple cities that have also faced natural disasters such as New Orleans, but also multiple cities across the globe that face problems of pollution, poverty, and lack diversity. Cities have the ability to change and grow into cities that progress and create a higher quality of life not just for one group of people but for many people. This could be the birth of biophillic cities.

Assignment 5: Luminous Environement

For the Chapel within the airport, or meditation space I wanted to create an atmosphere that had dramatic light and high contrast. I imagine as the position of the sun changes, the light entering through the open corner of the roof and south wall, will vary in intensity throughout the day. In early morning I imagine the light to be low and peer over the South wall and create a sharp band of light that enters through the south wall. When the sun is higher throughout the day, the opening above will create sharp bands of light in the middle of the floors, contrasted against the darker corners that will receive little to no light. I imagined the window to be transparent glass that would allow for not only light to enter but also a connection to the exterior environment. Furthermore, this change of light will also vary throughout the seasons; in the winter when the sun is low sharp bands of light will cut across the South opening onto the North wall, and in the summer seasons the light will cut through the ceiling and shine on the floors.



For the activity space, I wanted to create an atmosphere that was diffused with an even light and less dramatic. For this space I imagined that the south and roof facades would be curved and bend light evenly throughout the room. I imagined the curvilinear form would help capture the maximize amount of light throughout the seasons and the days. The material would also be polycarbonate, which is translucent and diffuses light more evenly throughout a space. When translucent material is used along a facade, it creates a lower contrast between shadow and light. I imagined that a more evenly disperse of light will create an atmosphere that can be used by a group of people to chat, whereas the more dramatic meditation space will be a place where individuals may contemplate.



Assignment 5: Draft

For this assignment I was interested in how placing windows could change how light was entering and illuminate a space (drawing 1). I was particularly interested creating a restful environment for meditation and have a dramatic contrast of light and darkness within a space. The two pictures were also looking at how the windows in the east addition were carefully placed to create different atmospheres of light. In Photo 1 I specifically was drawn to the the use of material behind a window that then reflected light across it and radiated into the room. In the second photo, I was more interested in how the floor material could also be used to bend and reflect light onto an opaque surface. 



Drawing 1


Photo 1


Photo 2


A World Without Light-blog post 7

It’s hard to imagine a world without light in our society today; it’s used for so many different things like lighting rooms and walkways at night. We use it to see but it also plays an essential role in the way we interact with the world. From the beginning of time natural light from the sun dictated the times in which human were awake and roamed the earth. This disappearance of the light told humans when they were to rest. Human biological patterns are tied to the natural patters of the sun. That being said the change in patterns on sunlight have a strong effect on humans and the ways in which they perceive space.

According to Nanet Mathiasen and Nina Voltelen in “Light and Shadow”, light not only provides vitamin D for humans but also affects people’s moods. Since our daily patterns of rest and movement are tied to the patterns of the sun, in northern climates that receive even less sun in the winter have a greater amount of people who experience winter depression due to lack of exposure to light and whereas in more warmer climates near the equator that have a lot of sunlight year round don’t experience these same depressions (115). Our built environment may also include another possibility to capture light and create different atmospheres that force people to respond differently.

In so many buildings today the use of artificial light is used to light rooms even when there is plenty of natural light available during the day. Not only  are artificial lights an excessive use of energy, they do not have the same quality or affect natural light has over spaces. Mathiasen and Voltelen suggest that there are three different types of daylights architects should consider when planning, daylight, skylight, and reflected light (119). I think these different types of light sources are important when designing because they show a deeper understanding that goes beyond just simply lighting a building directly, but each light creates a different type of atmosphere created by the lights. Architects can use the variety of light source to enhance a simple room and create better spaces for specific types of activities to take place such as a room for activity verses a room for rest. Typically humans don’t gather in completely shaded rooms during the day and prefer rooms that have a balanced quality of light.

The Laban Centre in London utilizes the different effects of light to create open spaces that inspire dancers to perform and students to create art. The Laban Centre utilizes translucent and transparent materials, which allow filtered light to enter the space and create an environment that not only feels weightless but also conveys a huge sense of openness (Figure 1). This is important considering the activities of dance and performance that take place in the theatre, the building itself acts as an open light well that emphasizes its performers. The space of theatre is both inspiring and also challenges the conventional use of artificial lighting.

labanFigure 1

During the day there is no need for excessive artificial light and the filtered light that enters through the translucent walls highlight the materials differently throughout the space. The floors, although concrete, become reflective pools and the walls look as if they are expanding down through the floors which adds to the open feel. The careful use of materials to convey openness also expands to the exterior of the theatre (FIgure 2).

labanexteriorFigure 2

The use of translucent glass and plastics on the facade almost make the theater appear as if it were floating off of the ground. The lightweight materials are also interrupted by reflective windows that reflect images of the natural landscape, which appear to cut right through the building to the opposite side. The careful design and consideration of light in the theater have created a space that is more inspiring than a regular building that uses artificial light. I imagine  the space feels more relaxing and open to be in.




Assignment 4: The Wedge Bus Stop

When asked to design a bus stop, I had all sorts of ideas and questions. The focus of my design utilized the weather charts and diagrams as analysis for how the bus stop should be orientated and what important factors played a role in determining coverage such as the sun. Not only did I pay attention to the weather studies, but I also was interested in how I could create a bus stop that was both safe and practical for students as well as visitors to use.

I used the psychrometric chart to explore passive and active design strategies that could be used in both winter and summer in Charlottesville to create a comfortable microclimate within the bus stop. These charts showed that sun shading of windows, natural ventilation, and fan forced ventilation were the most effective in obtaining a larger comfort zone (see Figure 1). In the winter months, adding heating was by far the most effective design strategy in creating a comfort zone(see Figure 2). These issues of providing heat in the winter but also keeping the bus stop cool in summer months suggested a design approach that could be adjusted throughout the seasons.

summerpyschrocvile winterpyschrocville

Next, I overlaid the wind charts onto the site and began to draw predicted wind patterns on top of them. In Figure 3, the diagrams show the wind primarily comes from the Northwest and Southwest in the winter months. In drawing the paths I paid attention to buildings that would likely block the site from direct winds but would also force winds to rapidly flow along the east corner of the parking garage stair tower.


Figure 3

For the warmer months, Figure 4 shows that North and South winds were typically wet and made sure to provide protection on these two faces of the facade. However, these winds were not particularly strong and stronger winds approached from the West side of the site.


Figure 4

From these two charts I began to gain a sense of what directions winds would be coming from and the areas that needed protection from precipitation (see Figure 5).


Figure 5

Another important factor in deciding a design approach was the sun. In Figure 6, the path of the sun in elevation is mapped out and buildings that would potentially block the sunlight from the path are shown. Primarily in the warmer months, the sun is much more intense and higher in the sky creating direct sunlight to shine directly onto the site.


Figure 6

Figure 7 shows the sun pattern in plan and also highlights buildings that could block sunlight in the winter on the southeast and southwest sides of the site. During the winter months when the sun is lower, it will be difficult to use the just the sunlight to heat the bus stop through solar gain and other smart alternatives, such as using the wind to power an energy source or that of the train and vehicles to generate heat for the bus station.Image

Figure 7

From these analysis of weather I began to design my bus stop as triangular object that would stand out to students and bus drivers, but also provide safe sense of enclosure for students and the public to gather. Another important factor was how the bus stop operated at night and also created a safe feeling for occupants. To address these issues, I suggested that there be walkways that are connected to the bus stop and when stepped on use the energy to power the lights of the bus stop. If students are rushing to the bus at night to catch the bus they can press a button that will make the bus stop light up and signal an approaching bus to stop at the stop (see Figure 9).Image

Figure 8


Figure 9


Figure 10

Assignment 4 Draft




By looking at wind charts and weather patterns, I’m designing a bus stop that can protect against cold winds in the winter but also utilize the winds in the summer time. Exploring the sun patterns will also help create a design that can adopt to a variety of weather and seasonal patterns. For the specific site, I found that it was important to make the bus stop noticeable for students to locate as well as for the bus to see occupants waiting at the site. By using both the resources on the site and taking note of the practical issues that needed to occur on the site I began to sketch some designs for my project.


Blog Post 5: Breathable Buildings

Much of contemporary buildings are so tightly sealed and regulated by HVAC systems, they seem to produce their own ideal environments. Sure it’s nice to enter a cool building during a hot summer day, but the constant pumping of air throughout buildings uses vast amounts of energy. Imagining a building that doesn’t use air conditioning system is so hard today and even shocking to most people, but with a continuing decrease in natural resources that power much of electricity today, changes are inevitable. When I think of buildings becoming more sustainable, I often think of ways they can use more renewable energies, however the Addington article opened my mind to new design strategies that could take place in building envelopes. Addington’s new perspective of utilizing building envelopes as not simply a division between interior and exterior boundaries, but as a thickened surface allows for new operations to take place. 

Pre-conceived notions that building envelopes should be tight and not allow for any mixture of inside and exterior air qualities may have seemed inventive with the creation of HVAC systems, but I think in hindsight have created indirect problems such as health. In the nineteenth century, access to fresh air was deemed important in order to avoid tuberculosis and an increase in building ventilation produced more permeable buildings (Addington 14).  Now that we have seen the failure of twentieth century HVAC systems, more architects seek to incorporate innovative building skins. Located in Irun, Spain, Hoz Fontan Architects utilized the building skin as a place that buffered the intense sun and also cooled the interior environment by collecting breezes from the Mediterranean Sea (See Figure 1). 

Figure 1: Exterior view of the Tower designed by Hoz Fontan Architects

From afar the building seems to be like a normal tower, however, by pulling the building skin away from its interior structure, the architects created spaces that allowed for inhabitation. The eight-story building becomes a rectangle that is wrapped up in semi-translucent glazing, which acts as a weather barrier ( These in between spaces create hallways and interior courtyards that are filled with natural plants that also filter and cool the surrounding air (See Figure 2). 

Figure 2:Views of interior courtyards and walkways throughout building

The courtyards created by the thickened skin are both relaxing and peaceful but also provide a natural way of ventilation. I think by looking at architecture through this lens of innovation and thinking about how we can begin to incorporate more sustainable and resilient solutions. Not only does the building reduce the need for HVAC systems, it also provides operable windows in which residents can control the amount of wind that is let in into their individual units. Units also open up onto smaller gardens and doors are able to be open to allow fresh airflow into units (See Figure 3). Unlike HVAC systems, the windows are oriented in a way that captures cross-breezes, is more controllable for individuals and doesn’t use excess energy when unwanted and not needed. I often find myself sitting in classrooms that are too cold and use vast amounts of energy just to cool the temperature of the air. I agree although in theory it seems as though a tighter building envelope would be more ideal for individuals, more innovative ways of embracing openness and porosity within the building skin is more profound. Using energy systems that are already available to us, without the need to produce excess energy already reduces that amount of energy buildings are consuming and the amount of natural resources that are vanishing. 

Figure 3: View into a private resting courtyard

Today there are even more studies concerned with individual health and HVAC systems that are so concerned with regulating building temperatures. “The necessary thermal exchanges for maintaining the health of the body have much larger tolerances than those

that determine sensation, and are also located in different regions of the body” (Addington 16). More studies are proving that being inside constantly regulated temperatures are having negatively impacts on human health. Diseases such as cancer are being studied and possibly linked to buildings that have little no access to fresh natural air. Increased exposure to fresh air and nature also provides mentally relaxing spaces for people. Alternatives to HVAC systems are not only energy saving methods but also provide new opportunities for creative solutions that better everyday life for a variety of people.



Assignment 3

The vernacular building that I selected was a typical house in Charlottesville, VA that included a front porch. Front porches were places for residents to cool off in the summer time before air-conditioning existed. Here are some photos of a house with a porch located on Grady and 13th Street in Charlottesville.Image

The house’s porch faces the Southeast and the roof protects it from harsh direct sunlight.


Cool winds that come from the West are able to enter the porch and remove excess heat, which creates a natural cooling effect. Image

The porches roof also acts as a simple shading device and blocks high summer sun but allows for lower less harsher sun to enter the porch in the cooler months.Image

My objective for designing a system in Charlottesville would to extend the use of living areas throughout the colder times of the year. According to the psychometric chart, heating and adding dehumidification was the most effective during the cold months. I wanted to focus on systems that could gain heat in the winter but would also be able to respond to the warmer months and reduce heat gain. The chart shows that the most effective systems are Heating, internal heat gain, and passive solar direct gain low mass.


The systems I focused on explored various ideas about how to gain heat in a specific room or building but were also  adoptable to the warmer and more humid months Charlottesville experiences.