The Energy Ensemble: How Form Emerges From Environment

Student | An-yi Cheng
Faculty | Lawrence Blough, Simone Giostra
School of Architecture, Undergraduate Architecture

A solar-based design process for a mid-rise housing prototype in NYC. Form-finding algorithms based on solar radiation inform building mass and the examination of natural systems influences alternative approaches to the design of the building systems, as well as the domestic and dwelling environment. The studio and project goal is to target innovative building mass and surface strategies that are energy efficient, generate on-site renewable energy, and produce a new vocabulary for sustainable construction.

A series of massing studies that speculate on geometric strategies in response to solar access.
Massing strategies like the voxelated, pocketed, faceted, and others were used for programmatic expression in housing, but typically haven’t been directed towards energy collection. With energy simulation tools, solar potential (or capture) is used as a design tool and we began to test speculations about relationships between form and energy

Each scale from the massing to the chunk to the façade is related to primary and secondary organization of the building. Massing affects structure and interior space organization while cladding effects are limited by the depth of the envelope. The design is conducted based on two closely related indicators: solar radiation levels on the building’s exteriors and visual comfort in the interiors.

A courtyard view of the building
The perspective shows the synchronized negotiation of spatial organization and sun exposure to achieve fair exposure, showing the weights being pulled between housing and solar study. The result of the envelope is not only shaped by the sun but also by the neighbor.
plans showing interior organization based on daylighting data
plans showing interior organization based on daylighting data
section showing the variation of units and duplexes under the sloped roof
section showing the variation of units and duplexes under the sloped roof
section showing the variation of units and duplexes under the sloped roof
perspective section showing relationships of the façade to the interior of the building
data comparison between radiation, solar incident, and daylighting performances
data comparison between radiation, solar incident, and daylighting performances
perspective showing how units are wrapped and overlapped around one another to start to tie the individual to the collective and to the ensemble
perspective showing how units are wrapped and overlapped around one another to start to tie the individual to the collective and to the ensemble