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Monday, 5 September 2011

Bioclimatic Urbanism

Radhika Radhakrishnan and Sebastian Nau

Thesis Commendation

Reducing the energy demands of cities will be one of the biggest challenges for architects and urban planners in the coming decades. Tackling the urban microclimate, by addressing the urban morphology in design processes, could play a crucial role in this process; it is likely the most suitable way to enforce means of passive energy saving onto urban agglomerations.
The design research project presented in this thesis investigates the current methods in microclimatic research and proposes how such strategies, which so far have only been used in urban analysis, can be implemented in design processes. The complex interaction of physical processes that result in urban microclimates leads to the adaptation of simplified morphological indicators. Such indicators that reveal latent microclimatic characteristics of urban morphologies will be analysed and further explored. Coupled with a genetic algorithm it is subsequently shown how they can be utilized to simultaneously generate and evaluate urban layouts as part of generative design processes.

The project thus introduces a bio-climatic approach to urban planning that incorporates microclimatic considerations. Throughout the project strategies are developed that approach urban design from the patch/block level. It will be shown how patch morphologies can be optimized according to microclimatic considerations and how such patches may aggregate to form coherent urban structures. By implementing different indicators at different stages of the design it is revealed how different parameters for evaluation might come into play at different stages of the project. The result is a hierarchical planning approach from schematic urban patches all the way down to the building level.
In addition, the method of using morphological indicators will be extended to draw conclusions about urban qualities inherent to patch morphologies. Together with microclimatic considerations it will be shown through a series of design experiments how these can be utilized as latent information within urban planning.

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