Blog 4

What is architecture? This question has changing answers throughout history. From primitive structures that were once for the sole purpose of shelter, to complex building systems that address a multitude of problems, architecture has evolved to become so many things. Today, our society is constantly changing and the idea of adaptable buildings has created new possibilities for exploration of design. However, our world is changing so quickly that new designs are quickly becoming old and not addressing long-term issues. One of the most complex issues to address is changing weather conditions.

As weather conditions are rapidly changing, the storms have become larger and stronger. In the past thirty-five years, the number of category four and five storms has greatly increased along with the temperature of the ocean ( In 2005, Hurricane Katrina was a warning sign that our current infrastructure and cities along coastlines are not resilient and do not have the ability to adapt to drastic weather patterns and storms. When New Orleans was built under sea level, no one would ever imagine that it would also face huge a devastating storm such as Hurricane Katrina. Now that we have learned about the possible disasters that can destroy current modes of design we must rethink the ways in which we design our cities and the ways in which buildings can respond to weather patterns.

As ocean temperatures rise, the current weather patterns are predicted to change and the number of intense rainstorms is also predicted to increase ( With all of these different weather patterns and advancements in technology, architecture has the possibility to design cities that are more resilient. Buildings can become more than shelter and act as a barrier to changing weather. Since weather patterns are predicted to become warmer and wetter, air conditioning units will become more inefficient and will need to work harder in order to create a cooler livable environment for humans. As temperatures become warmer and more humid, architects will have to create buildings that will be able to create a thermal comfort zone without the increase in energy consumption. As discussed in class, tropical climates elevate homes from the floor to promote natural ways of ventilation. According to the pyschrometric chart, natural and fan ventilation prove to be the most successful cooling methods in humid and hot climates. Raising buildings from the ground will also be useful to avoid flooding from rainfalls and intense storms such as hurricanes.

Here is a building that responds to the natural flooding of a lake by building the home elevated from the ground so when the river is flooded as shown below, the home still remains above the water.


Architecture has the ability to expand drastically to rethink just design and also respond and create systems that adapt to the long-term possibilities of weather patterns. By looking at architecture in a lens beyond design, the possibilities in which architecture can address these problems are greatly expanded. According to Lechner, the four factors that contribute to a change in heat are air temperature, humidity, air movement, and mean radiant temperature (Lechner 60). As discussed in the readings buildings have become thermal barriers in the past to reduce heat loss. In future we can think of architecture acting as a thermal barrier that promotes the cooling of air and ventilation. Skins of buildings have now become more active in thinking about their role in the environment and are becoming a system that addresses specific environmental needs. For example, Thom Faulders designed the Airspace building in Tokyo, Japan which utlilizes the skin of the building as a protective shield and method of privacy. The skin still allows for diffused light to enter into the house and also filters and stores rainwater. The skin allows for privacy and also functions to protect the home.

 Here is an example of the foliage like skin that protects the building from harsh sunlight and filters water. 


These unique methods are progressive ways for rethinking the way architecture can respond to our environment and create new dwelling places. Architecture can be many things and by adapting to long-term problems of our environment, they can be both protective shelter and also control our living environments

Blog3-Diagram Explanation

Housing is one of the most integral parts of society. Homes provide shelter and are a center for where people live. However, many American homes and apartment complexes don’t meet basic health principles. Nearly six million households live with moderate to severe safety and health hazards ( These hazards place homes for at-risk illnesses and injuries including asthma, lead poisoning, slip and falls, and respiratory illnesses. Hazards in homes include inadequate ventilation systems, which not only lead to poor circulation of fresh air but also allow for mold and moisture to ruin homes and residents’ health. Poor ventilation also contributes to concentration of contaminates inside the home.  This provides a dangerous condition for residents and increases the risk of respiratory illnesses. Humans spend so much time within the home it is important to rethink living environments. Everyday life takes place within people’s homes so the health of homes has an even greater impact on human health.


In recent works, communities and builders have become more aware on the dangers of unhealthy homes and begun to take steps in creating healthier homes. Furthermore, the National Center for Healthy Housing is studying how the incorporation of green building into low-income housing rehabilitation projects can promote health and reduces environmental exposures ( My precedent I studied was research article on the rehabilitation of the Wheeler Terrace Apartments in Washington D.C..  This particular rehabilitation project looked to connect green design to improve the health conditions and the well being of its residents. This particular project renovated the apartment complex, which was filled with dangerous indoor living conditions such as, leaking buildings and plumbing, inadequate ventilation, mold and mildew, as well as pest. The residents who lived here were also facing serious respiratory illnesses and in 2004 chronic respiratory disease was the seventh leading cause of death for children under the age of one in the City’s district. These dangerous conditions were not only impacting the residents’ physical health, but was also creating an environment that felt neglected. The feeling of neglect was seen in the high crime neighborhood, depreciated buildings, and an unsafe neighborhood.

Wheeler Apartments before the renovation

The green renovations to the apartment were carefully considered based on cost, durability, life-cycle costs, and health and environmental impacts ( The renovated project included green elements such as geothermal heat pumps, fresh air ventilation systems, a community garden, and a storm water filter system. After the renovations, the National Center for Healthy Housing conducted research to trace the impacts on the residents who returned to the community. Since the renovations the neighborhood has experienced a decrease in crime as well as an increase in time spent outside by residents. Air samples were taken both before and after the renovation and are continuing to show air that is no longer contaminated by dust, mold and other hazards. The renovation also unexpectedly removed many stress triggers previously seen in residents. Furthermore, by using geothermal heat pumps and other green features save residents money and free them of high electric bills. It is proven that low-income households typically spend fourteen percent of their income on energy cost, compared to three and a half percent for other households ( I was particularly inspired how this renovation projected not only impacted its resident’s physical health, but also lead to a better mental health for the residents.

Wheeler Apartments after the renovations took place

My diagrams seek to go one step further than the renovations of the Wheeler apartments, and seek to change the way we think of clustering apartments together. My diagram seeks to interrupt the average apartment complex with a series of outdoor porches that are connected to individual units. By attaching each indoor space with its own outdoor space, I hope to improve the overall airflow that enters the building. These porches will also be spaces for residents to enjoy year round. By stacking other apartments on top of each other, the direct sunlight is blocked by the story above it. This allows for residents to have their own private spaces that are well lit and open enough to gain fresh airflows, which will eliminate the concentration of air contaminants. When situated perpendicular to the direction of the wind, these porches will provide a natural way of ventilation. Winds from the porches will pass through individual apartments through windows and will eliminate moisture and high risk of mold and mildew in a cramped apartment. In addition, these porches will allow residents to have their own green spaces in which they can grow gardens, let their children play, and spend more time outside. Residents will no longer have to deal with the stress of paying high energy bills and will create a safe outdoor environment. The aim is to use natural ventilation and light to cut down on energy cost, while also forming a connection between the residents and nature, ultimately aiming to reduce stress and improve respiratory health.

Healthy Homes Initiative

Assignment 2: FInal Diagram

My design takes place on the medium scale and focuses how to change low-income housing complexes so that they can become both sustainable and healthier for residents.Image


Blog Post 2

A large driver of our ecosystem is energy consumption. Energy is all around us and we need it to generate power for buildings, transportation, electronics, as well as heating and cooling. Electricity and the energy that creates it has become an integrated part of modern day society and it’s difficult to imagine life without it. Although energy exists all around us, we found in lecture that it is difficult to transform energy into a usable state. Primarily natural resources are used to generate energy forms that can be then transferred to areas throughout the world. In this process, a great deal of natural resources is used to generate energy and only a small percentage of it is actually used. An example would be the creation of dams, which create two ground planes and force water to rapidly fall and turn turbines, which generate energy. When the water falls, it rapidly rotates turbines, which then create mechanical energy (Ristenen 24). The mechanical energy of the turbine then uses generators to transform it into electrical energy. The electrical energy must be transmitted over high voltage transmission lines to be used in homes and communities (Ristenen 24). This process may seem harmless to our environment but in turn alters many unique ecosystems of rivers. Dams also have grown rapidly in size to force the flow of water to become stronger and stronger to turn larger turbines. So with all this dependency on energy forms such as electricity, it becomes very scary to think about what will happen when natural resources are used up and our energy production greatly collapses.

BLM photo of Folsom Dam and spillway.

So how much natural resources does the world consume? According to Garrick Utley’s article, the world’s wealthiest sixteen percent consumes about eighty percent of the world’s natural resources (CNN). As the Earths’ population is growing exponentially, our natural resources are declining, we are using more and more energy.  In 2010, America accounted for about twenty percent of the world’s primary consumption (EIA). As a society that is dependent on energy it is a necessity that we cut down on energy consumption and find alternative energy sources as well as rethinking our built environment. In 2012, nearly forty percent of the United States energy consumption was consumed in residential and commercial buildings (EIA). This poses an opportunity in the design world to rethink building systems and the way they consume energy.

The Genzyme Corporate headquarters building in Cambridge, Massachusetts demonstrates a new beginning to re-thinking the way in which buildings are designed. The architects carefully plan and create a design scheme that allows for the maximum amount of natural light to enter a large amount of space.


Behnisch Architects designed the central atrium to be a void space that allows for light to enter into the surrounding office spaces. The building uses a system of louvers and mirrors that bend light from the sun from various directions and direct light throughout the building. This type of design approach cuts back on the amount of light energy needed in buildings by using simple techniques. The sun provides light throughout the day so it makes more sense to use light that is already available instead of creating dark enclosed buildings that don’t allow for light to enter.


By changing the way we view our buildings and using smart design approaches, I feel that we will eliminate excess energy consumption. If buildings are further calibrated to receive the maximum amount of sunlight throughout the seasons and allow for natural breezes to enter in hot months part of the battle is already solved. Instead of making a closed structure that uses so much energy in order to cool and light it, we can begin to open our buildings up to the natural environment. Furthermore, I find it interesting to begin to re-think whole cities and the ways they are built. By finding more practical solutions that use sustainable resources we can begin to restructure cities and the ways in which people move around in them. I just wonder what it will look like.

Assignment 1

a) My site receive about nine hours of sunlight on March 21

b)On December 21 sunlight strikes my site around 8:00am and on June 21 around 7:15am

c) June 21st is the day that receives the most sunlight

d) ALtitude 43 Azimuth 242

e) I would try orientate the porch to the south and have a covering that would shade the porch from the high summer sun and allow for the lower winter sun to enter and warm the porch. In my site I would have to investigate the type of trees that are already on the site to see if they are deciduous and would shed their leaves in the winter. This would allow for the lower winter sun to pass through tree branches and reach my site. If the trees do not lose their leaves in the winter it would not be possible to face a porch that would be warmer in the winter.

f) There are a lot of trees on my site that could potentially be natural shades for windows that block the sun during hot summer months. Northern windows would also have a lot of sunlight during the summer months and would not need as many window coverings. Southern windows will receive more light and in warmer conditions would need window coverings to block light before they reach the window to avoid excess heat.


Blog Post 1


All around us change is happening. We can feel these changes taking place in our physical world in climate change and we see the polar icecaps transforming into water. Humans are said to account for just one quarter of the biomass but produce about ninety-nine percent of all of the earth’s pollution (Yeang 22). All around us pollution is filling the air and eating away at the ozone layer. Our natural resources have been overused and are now reaching the brinks of exhaustion. We can no longer live healthy within our current means and maintain this increasing consumption. Some people suggest that these changes are leading to the end of the world or some sort of Armageddon. On the other hand, architects and designers are not viewing these changes as the end of the world but perhaps as a new canvas that will allow for new experimentation of ecological design and practices of sustainability.

I find myself wondering how these changes will effect our built environment and human interaction. In the design world, the changing environment allows for a new sort of design to emerge that addresses issues of the natural world but can also be resilient for future changes. Furthermore, more and more studies are showing that green practices are not going to be enough to reverse problems that have come about such as pollution. Our infrastructure and built environment are in need of new systematic designs that changes the way humans live and interact with the world. Sustainable design solutions are generally to ensure society is able to satisfy its needs without diminishing chances of future generations and minimize environmental impacts (Yeang 28). In order to implement these solutions, however, whole systems such as urban centers need to be rethought in order to maximize solutions. For example, even though there are newer cars being built that are more efficient and use fewer natural resources, they are still only available to certain classes of people who can afford them. By viewing systems on a larger scale and recognizing all of its connective parts that are drivers and outputs of those systems, we can more affectively create solutions. Instead of looking at green cars as a solution, it would be even more profound to re-design a city where people would no longer need cars. I’d like to think these changes in our environment would not only create new challenges for designers and architects, but also call for a new school of thought on how we think about our built environment and how it interacts with humans. More specifically, how architecture can begin to encourage positive human behavior environmentally and socially. These changes can begin to take place at the urban scale, where individuals already have a low carbon footprint but as whole cities often produce mass amounts of pollution and use large amounts of natural resources. By studying urban centers and identifying patterns within systems we can begin to find certain leverage points that allow us to integrate ecological designs and create more resiliency within out cities. Without this wider perception of systems, it will be much more difficult to fix isolated problems because we will miss their larger connections to the environment.