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Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2016)

Passive architecture tool for exploratory design : case of Qatar

Ismail Tanya

Titre : Passive architecture tool for exploratory design : case of Qatar

Auteur : Ismail Tanya

Université de soutenance : Massachusetts Institute of Technology,

Grade : Master of Science in Architecture Studies 2016

By the middle of the twentieth century, the growing global demand for fossil fuels flooded the Gulf States with wealth that led to an unprecedented scale of city building. Today, Qatar is one of the highest consumers of energy per capita, with over seventy percent of energy in the residential sector depleted by air conditioning. In raising a metropolis from the sand, reliance on mechanical systems led to the largely unanimous abandonment of traditional building techniques that evolved from the hyper-arid environment to ameliorate harsh thermal conditions. Faced with a growing energy crisis, design professionals in Qatar have the opportunity to reduce demand and to maximize the potential of building and site by incorporating low-energy passive solar strategies into architectural designs. This thesis recognizes the limitations of existing tools to assist with performance-based decision making during the early stages of the design process and proposes a new conceptual framework to explore architectural design and climate-sensitive strategies as drivers of the conceptual design with simultaneous feedback on cost-benefit implications. The thesis identifies single family residences as a key sector for future development and presents an interactive digital interface for generating site-specific design solutions and evaluating passive cooling strategies against selected performance indicators. Seeking to clarify the relationship between cost, energy, and design, the interface integrates existing tools in a gaming engine, Unity3D, to synthesize a component-based building system with analysis. The application requires little technical knowledge to operate and understand, allowing for quick experimentation and feedback. The simulation offers indicative estimates of embodied and operating energy alongside capital and operating costs while simultaneously allowing the user to assume an immersive first person perspective to experience the spaces. The tool is geared towards generating a process of iterative sketching and evaluation at the conceptual design phase in a simplified interface that allows for the flexibility of geometric expression while minimizing the level of complexity required for user input. Embracing a belief in technology as a vehicle of social and environmental change, this thesis offers early insight into the efficiency of passive strategies and their economic implications throughout the building lifecycle. The result is greater transparency of the dependencies and compromises between pivotal variables for a variety of stakeholders. By allowing the architect freedom of form with low time investment, such an instrument offers an enhanced preliminary design methodology, promoting continuous negotiation between different configurations, and supporting divergent thinking through models. User testing and feedback demonstrates the potential of the tool to encourage energy-conscious decisions at the start of the design process, redefine the existing workflow, and engage users in a critical dialogue towards a culture of passive design


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