The global environmental and energy challenge facing current and future generations of architects and building professionals calls for a deeper understanding of the principles of environmental design, and their effective application into architectural practice worldwide. Over the last decades Environmental Design as a subject area has developed, responding to new research and experimentation, both in academia and in practice. However, buildings claiming to be environmentally conscious do not perform to the expected standards, still heavily contributing to global CO2 emissions and often providing unsatisfactory comfort conditions to occupants. The same can be said for the existing built environment which is largely outdated and underperforming, requiring urgent implementation of effective retrofit strategies. This is due to a lack of comprehensive performance prediction and feedback protocols, which are still not common practice in architectural design.
Students on this course will take a fresh critical look at this subject. Here you will gain the knowledge and tools to make informed design decisions based on post-occupancy feedback and performance analysis, towards a new paradigm of environmental architecture, which is environmentally and energy conscious, yet sensitive to the contextual and socio-cultural landscape we live in. You will learn environmental design methods which relate to the various stages of architectural design. You will be able to evaluate existing buildings and design new ones following a combined bioclimatic and building occupant focused approach. In the core design modules you will follow an evidence based design approach where the acquisition of specialised software and analytical tools will be directly applied to an evaluation or design project.
This interdisciplinary and international course will provide you with skills that can be applied to diverse building typologies and global climatic, environmental and contextual issues. On completion of this course you will have a thorough understanding of the principles and methodology of environmental design and will develop critical thinking skills to challenge established practices. You will hold the knowledge and the practical tools to better understand existing buildings for retrofit and to design new ones – positively driving change in this field and moving towards a truly environmentally conscious architecture.
The course covers both the wider contextual and sustainable approach to environmental design, and the more technical aspects of environmentally and energy conscious building design and performance. As well as taught modules, you will take design-based modules where you will apply quantitative and qualitative analysis to the study of existing built environments and to new design projects.
For more information on how this course is taught and assessment methods, please refer to full course document
Images from top to bottom: Image 1: Global Ecology Research Centre, Stanford, CA. Image 2: Sun path diagram projection on site map. Image 3: Natural ventilation strategy of hypothetical building in South of Italy. Image 4: Computational Fluid Dynamic simulation showing temperature stratifications in hypothetical building in Singapore
Evaluation of Built Environments
You will be involved in practical workshops on the use of tools and on the development of analytical methods, which will be directly applied to a design studio project on the evaluation of case studies. In this module you will learn about climate and microclimate analysis and fieldwork methods for the measurement of environmental and energy parameters, thermal comfort surveys and post-occupancy evaluations.
Principles of Environmental Design
You will look at the principles of passive solar design and strategies for bioclimatic architecture (eg enhanced thermal performance of building envelope, solar control, natural ventilation, day-lighting, passive solar heating and cooling etc). The module will provide, through practical experimentation and laboratory exercises, fundamentals of building physics, energy and environmental foundations, including heat exchange and energy balance of buildings, and thermal and visual comfort.
Theory and History of Environmental Design
You will look at ethical and environmental drivers of environmental design; climate change, energy conservation and economy; standards and regulations; history of environmental design; and its various past and present definitions.
Environmental and Energy Modelling
You will undertake software workshops and design application of dynamic thermal modelling, Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) modelling and day-lighting. The software used will be tailored to the various stages of the design process and will range from climate data analysis to daylighting and thermal modelling. These will be directly applied to a design studio project running in parallel to the workshops.
You will explore advanced topics and contexts of research applicability. The topic chosen can depend on your individual interests and aspirations, ranging from analytical projects to design proposals. The module will provide you with the background on research methods and advanced technical skills appropriate to your topic of choice. Dissertations can be formulated as a written thesis or as a hybrid written and design-project thesis.
Course-specific entry requirements
Generally, a good undergraduate degree (i.e. First or Upper-Second Class Honours) in Architecture or a related subject within the context of the construction industry and built environment disciplines. Applicants with qualifications in other subject areas which may be relevant to the award are encouraged to apply, each case being considered on merit. You will need a portfolio of work, or comprehensive, and a personal statement which clearly articulates why you wish to study for the award.
You will need fluent written and spoken English to study at postgraduate level. If your first language is not English, you will need an IELTS score of at least 6.5 (or equivalent). The University offers pre-sessional summer programmes if you need to improve your English before starting your course.
This course will give you skills which can be used both in architectural practice and in environmental design consultancy. The research issues explored in your final thesis project could also lead to further research and an academic career through the path of a PhD degree in a number of related fields.
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Last updated April 14, 2016