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 The same can be said for the existing built environment which is largely outdated and underperforming, requiring urgent implementation of effective retrofit strategies.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.
Images from top to bottom: Image 1: Global Ecology Research Centre, Stanford, California. Image 2: Sun path diagram projection on a site map. Image 3: Computational Fluid Dynamic simulation showing temperature stratifications in refurbishment project in Mumbai.
The following modules are indicative of what you will study on this course.
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 the 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 the 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 applications 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.
Semester two and three
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 written hybrid and design-project thesis.
This course will give you skills which can be used both in architectural practice and in an 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.
Full-time students on the Architecture and Environmental Design MSc course usually need to attend classes at University on Tuesday and Wednesday with additional tutorials on Monday afternoon. Part-time students usually need to attend classes at University on Tuesday in the first semester, and on a Wednesday and Monday afternoon in the second semester of their first year. In their second year, part-time students need to attend classes at University on a Wednesday and Monday afternoon in the first semester and Tuesday in the second semester. Please note, this timetable is subject to change.
The course is delivered at our central London Marylebone Campus, which is easily accessible by all forms of public transport. Design work is developed within dedicated studio spaces. In addition to an extensive CAD lab, a complete suite of 100 computers has been installed in the design studios to the highest specification and with all the latest software. Together, these facilities offer a wide range of drawing, graphics and video applications. The new Fabrication Laboratory includes state-of-the-art CAD-CAM equipment in shape of several 3D printers, laser-cutting machines and computer-controlled drilling machines. Metalworking and woodworking workshops, as well as other support facilities, are also available. The course also has access to an environmental laboratory which contains a wide range of testing and monitoring equipment for assessing environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, day-lighting, air velocity and sound; and surveying equipment. An Artificial Sky for the physical modelling and analogue simulation of daylighting is also under construction
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