The conditions for a symbiotic relationship between buildings and the urban environments they form and occupy are the main concern of the SED masters programme. The dynamic energy exchanges characterising this relation foster distinct change in the climates of cities, the environmental performance of buildings and the comfort and energy use of their inhabitants. Knowledge and understanding of the physical principles underlying these exchanges, along with the conceptual and computational tools to translate them into an ecological architecture and urbanism, form the core of the taught programme in sustainable environmental design. This is structured in two consecutive phases. Phase I is common to MSc and MArch candidates and is organised around joint studio projects that are undertaken in teams combining both groups. Project work is supported by weekly lectures, research seminars and computer workshops. Phase II is focused on dissertation projects which can be undertaken individually or collaboratively, supported by regular seminars and tutorials. The programme will continue developing its five-year research agenda on Refurbishing the City and practice of Adaptive Architecturing that engages with further urban contexts and building typologies.
Phase I Studio: What Can Cities Tell Us, What Can We Say Back
(Terms 1 & 2)
Starting from the very beginning of the academic year, Phase I Studio will look at how different microclimates form in cities and how these affect activity, energy use and environmental quality in and around buildings. With London as laboratory this first stage engages students in fieldwork that combines studies of how selected buildings and outdoor spaces are used with assessments of environmental performance. These studies inform the understanding of environmental processes and provide numerical data to help calibrate computational tools, which are then applied on parametric studies as part of design research. While such work closely depends on new technical knowledge and computational tools provided by the taught course, its intention is distinctly focused on fundamental aspects of architectural research as informed by environmental criteria. A further objective is to extend the visual language of architectural representation so as to incorporate the spatial and temporal dynamics of environmental processes. The results of these case studies provide starting points for design projects, which begin in Term 2, exploring adaptive and performative strategies that can achieve autonomy from conventional energy sources addressing climate change and environmental quality in cities.
Phase II Studio: MSc Dissertation Projects
(Terms 3 & 4)
In Phase II of the course MSc candidates are expected to embark on a significant piece of design research addressing the programme’s areas of concern as well as students’ own backgrounds, professional interests and special skills. Project topics are decided by the end of Term 2 and grouped into thematic clusters identifying areas of research that can be developed individually or in teams of 2–4 students. MSc dissertations deal with design applicability of their research topic, while the MArch projects target a single design application that must be developed in some detail.
Phase II Studio: MArch Dissertation Projects
In Term 1 the MArch studio will host the final stage of the Phase II Dissertations that began in the previous academic year (2011/12). These encompass 15 design projects on a variety of briefs and urban contexts addressing issues mostly consisting of mixed-use buildings in warm climates. Following the completion of these MArch projects in early February 2013, a new set of MArch Phase II projects will be launched at the beginning of Term 3 by students who will have joined the programme at the beginning of the current academic year (2012/13). MArch dissertation research is best initiated collaboratively and can include MSc candidates within the team.
Lecture Courses , Seminars & Workshops
Myths & Theories of Sustainable Architecture
Many architects and students take sustainable environmental design for granted, as if it were standard practice, while others see environmental performance as a mere by-product of the digital revolution. The course dispels such myths, which continue to obscure the development of an architectural discourse of sustainable design. Far from being a computational gadget or an issue of engineering, the environmental performance of buildings is fundamentally a matter for architecture, being an outcome of programmatic, formal and operational choices made, or ignored, by design. Sustainable environmental design requires essential architectural knowledge that recent generations of architects did not receive. Its main concepts and performative criteria are introduced in this course, providing the cognitive grounding and critical framework needed for design research and practice.
Environmental Design Primer
(Terms 1 & 2)
The course deals with key topics in environmental design research. Lectures will look at the historical relationship between climate and architecture; adaptive theories of environmental comfort and their application in design; daylight and artificial light in architecture; natural and mechanical ventilation; passive and mechanical heating and cooling; ecology and performance of traditional and new materials; energy expenditure in buildings; and renewable energies and other related topics. Refurbishing the City (Terms 1 & 2) This course provides quantitative and qualitative criteria for the environmental assessment of cities based on climate, built density, urban morphology, materiality and anthropogenic activity. The course evolves in parallel to team projects providing examples and case studies of recent refurbishment schemes and new developments in different countries and urban contexts.
Lessons from Practice
(Terms 2 & 3)
The course draws on the experience of practising architects, engineers and researchers who are invited to present their approach and practice of sustainable environmental design with examples of projects from different climates and building programmes.
Design Research Tools
(Terms 1 & 2)
This is a core technical course on computational tools and fieldwork methods that underpin all project work undertaken for this programme. The software introduced by the course covers the main energy exchanges between buildings and the outdoor environment, and is applied to modelling and simulation of the likely environmental performance, energy use and comfort conditions of alternative designs.
Modelling & Simulation Workshop
(Terms 1, 2 & 3)
This weekly workshop provides hands-on training in the use of the computational tools and research techniques introduced by the Design Research Tools course, helping to build the necessary knowledge, skills and experience for their application to team projects and dissertation research.
(Terms 1, 2 & 3)
The purpose of this seminar is to support the acquisition of research and writing skills required for studio projects, research papers, dissertations and professional work in the areas of the programme.
Simos Yannas has been involved in environmental design research for more than 35 years and has taught and lectured in some 30 countries. His latest books and essays focus on adaptive architecture, refurbishing the city and on lessons from vernacular architecture. His earlier book Roof Cooling Techniques was shortlisted for the RIBA International Book Award for Architecture. He was awarded the PLEA (Passive and Low Energy Architecture) International Achievement Award in 2001.
Paula Cadima has been in architectural practice and environmental research for some 25 years and has taught at the Technical University of Lisbon where she created and directed the masters course on Bioclimatic Architecture. She worked for the European Commission in Brussels for five years, managing projects on energy efficiency, renewable energy sources and world-class research in emerging fields. She chaired the Environment & Sustainable Architecture working group of the Architect’s Council of Europe and is currently the President of PLEA (Passive Low Energy Architecture).
Joana Carla Soares Gonçalves completed her PhD on the sustainability of tall buildings at the University of São Paulo, where she has taught since 1998. She practised in Rio de Janeiro with Ana Maria Niemeyer and has workedas an environmental consultant on projects in Brazil, winning awards in a number of design competitions. She is the author of The Environmental Performance of Tall Buildings published by Earthscan in 2010.
Rosa Schiano-Phan studied architecture in Italy and completed her masters and PhD studies in environmental design in the UK. She worked as senior sustainability consultant with Brian Ford & Associates and at WSP Environmental, and was a Research Fellow on passive cooling at the Department of Built Environment, University of Nottingham. She is a co-author of The Architecture & Engineering of Downdraught Cooling published by PHDC Press in 2010.
Klaus Bode co-founded BDSP Partnership, an international environmental engineering firm with offices in London, Lisbon and Belgrade. He was project engineer on Foster + Partners’ Commerzbank and on Rogers and Piano’s Potsdamer Platz projects in Berlin. He has collaborated with the Rogers Partnership on the Welsh Assembly building in Cardiff, with the sculptor Antony Gormley on the Blind Light exhibition and with Hopkins Architects on the Velodrome for the London 2012 Olympics.
Gustavo Brunelli graduated from the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of São Paulo and won an Alban scholarship to the MA in Environment & Energy Studies programme at the AA, which he completed with Distinction in 2004. He has worked as environmental consultant on the new headquarters for Petrobras in Rio de Janeiro and with BDSP on projects in the UK and abroad.
Jorge Rodríguez Álvarez graduated from the architectural school of A Coruña, Spain where he is currently researching on sustainable urban design. He was awarded an MA in Building Conservation and Urban Regeneration from the University of Santiago and completed the MSc in Sustainable Environmental Design at the AA with Distinction in 2008. In 2009 he co-founded SAAI, an international environmental consultancy with projects in Europe, Asia and America.
Five-year professional architectural degree (BArch/Diploma in architecture)