Friday, 21 October 2011

Benson Lau

Benson Lau visited NTU as a gusest lecturer on the 20th October and he delivered a excellent presentation on the measurable and unmeasurable in Architecture. He highlighted how the unsustainable use of glazing is being exploited in the majority of high rise buildings in majoe citys such as Singapore, Hong Kong and London. I completely agree that the use of glazing is insufficient for sustainability but I'm struggling to think of any other viable options. A solid mass with small windows would not be a ideal solution because of the cost and weight of the cladding on the structure compared to the lightweight and cost effective properties of glazed facades. The other solution is intelligent systems that are reactive to the environment.

The Commerzbank Headquaters in Frankfurt, Germany was designed by Foster + Partners and was the most ecological office tower of its time in 1997 but even this building has a high use of glazing to provide light to the offices. The building uses 4 story gardens around the structure at different levels to draw fresh air into the central atrium to cool internal offices. One of the differences in this building from the typical high rise is all windows can be manually opened reducing the need for artificial cooling. I think that all new high rise buildings need to have a reactive system to assist air flow through structure without using large amounts of energy.

A few brainstorming ideas of how to power interactive buildings

  • Tidal flow if beside the sea of tidal esturarys
  • Grey and waste water to run through tubines with high pressure created from height of building
  • Solar
  • Wind
  • Biomass used to heat building in winter and sevice ventilation systems in summer
One of the most interesting projects Mr Lau introduced was the Bruder Klaus Chapel designed by Peter Zumthore. This Chapel was built by creating the interal structure out of tree brunks and casting concrete around them. Then the tree trunks were set alight leaving a tee pee shaped room with a hole in the top exposing the room to light and the exterior elements.

Another basic architectural concept that I was unaware of until yesterday was the use of sun path diagrams invented by Corbusier. Sketchup and Revit provide the modern day solution to sun path but Benson highlighted the importance of using real models and light to predict the lighting of space. Modern day programmes sometimes give a misleading prediction. This theory is backed up by our visit to the architectural practice Dixon Jones in our first week of the MSc. This practive also believes that model making is the only true was to predict how a building will behave.   

1 comment:

John Colfer said...

The concept of utilizing the sun path has been in existence through the millenniums, Newgrange and Stonehenge being examples.

Further to that, Navigators have to be fully aware of the Sun's path.

The sun rises in the east and sets in the west or thereabouts.

Declination of the sun is the Northing of the sunrise/sunset and the Southing of the sunrise/sunset throughout the calender year.

The declination of the sun is due to the tilt of the earth as it travels in orbit around the sun. This orbit takes one year to complete.(365 and1/4 days) The true north of the earth always points to the north star (to within 1/2 a degree) throughout the annual orbit.

The SUN PATH is predictable and should be given huge importance at the design stage of every architectural project.