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arch601 - spr 06

LEAFHouse Studio

College & Department

School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation


Amy Gardner
Julie Gabrielli

Semester Offered

Spring 2006

Course Description

This project offers a unique opportunity to explore the principles of a sustainably built environment in a collaborative, interdisciplinary team structure. Rather than a template or checklist approach, sustainable design requires that the building and its site be considered holistically, as a system. Students and professional team members will be exposed to the goals, ideals, and fundamental challenges of creating a solar powered, sustainably built environment, including the integration of the community and local resources, and enduring cultural values.

The project will develop from an innovative, integrated, interdisciplinary design process. Architectural, structural, environmental, landscape, and building systems design will proceed through a series of concurrent explorations, each informing the others. The goal of such a process is to achieve design and construction wherein each element or system cannot be removed without compromising the integrity of the whole. Design strategies will be explored that include design and construction through prefabrication, and passive solar techniques that naturally ventilate and illuminate interiors.

Sustainable design is very process-driven. That is, all the visible symbols of “greenness” – green roofs, photovoltaics, composting toilets – are merely unrelated gestures unless the building and its site are considered holistically, as a system. This integrated approach extends from thinking about the design problem itself to the way in which the diverse design professionals and students interact with each other.

In the process of solar and sustainable design, we learn about the delicate balance between humans and nature. A holistic design approach can engender teaching and learning tools that transcend the boundaries of the building and the lifetime of the project. This competition provides the opportunity to create a learning environment that will reach far more people than solely the students, faculty, and practitioners who come together to exchange ideas and create a building, a landscape, an environment, a place.

The design and development of the Solar House will proceed through an iterative cycle of research and design. You will work both individually and together, with other architecture and engineering students, faculty, and professionals, on both the design of the whole and the design of different parts.

In this collaborative setting guided by the spirit of invention, the success of the SCHOOL is THE focus. The collaborative effort builds an esprit-de-corps, in which all students’ performance is enhanced. Whether working in team efforts, or on independent work to be brought to the whole, you will benefit from the creative energy of this studio.

Our approach to the semester’s work includes a strict calendar of research, development, and presentation. In general, the first portion will be devoted to research and concept development, the second portion to the development of the building, site, and components, and the third portion will be devoted to creating Design Development Documents and Specifications. Additionally, in order to create the best solutions that meet the stated goals of the project, our approach to this competition will involve several components, listed below.

  • Case study analysis
  • Field trips to sustainably developed projects
  • Group Charrettes
  •  Research Sessions Topics include:
    • Site / ecology / water
    • Energy Efficiency
    • Renewable Energy
    • Sustainable Building Materials
    • Life cycle analysis
  • Research assignments, as needed to supplement knowledge topics include:
    • Site analysis – using Sun, Wind, and Light
    • Design approach to site and building as one whole (organism)
    • Calculate rainwater collection / balance w/ water use in building
    • Calculate energy use versus renewable energy needed
    • Perform Passive solar / energy modeling
    • Calculate waste generation rate, confirm on-site treatment options
    • Calculate embodied energy of building materials
  • Project Development Charrettes
  • Project Review Workshops with Team




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