Architecture Student

Ecological Feedback

E C O L O G I C A L  F E E D B A C K

fall | 2015

collaboration with Ai Fukuda


Working with parametric design tools, my partner and I designed a housing complex located in the Pittsburgh Strip District. We were prompted to utilize an eco machine within the project and rely on parametric design to optimize the function of the machine. 

The site situated on the river had a large and varied wind presence. We analyzed wind patterns to understand how we could manipulate wind along a surface - for example, if it could be slowed or pocketed or harnessed in any way. Analysis at a larger scale showed how the wind would flow in between buildings. Various comfort zones were possible along the facade of and behind buildings depending on how they fit onto the site.

From these studies a formal language that resembled large rock formations and slot canyons was discovered that could create a variety of experiences for the user. These experiential qualities began to play a large role in the design process in hopes of developing unique and enticing spaces. 

facade manipulation

With further exploration we were able to define facade manipulations based on desired experiences and solar analysis. Apertures were created through small scale undulations. Openings and balconies were created through large scale undulations. Performance aspects were still available through the original wind analysis, shading, and green wall space. The degree of undulation was determined based on a solar analysis of the surface. Using the analysis as a bit map, the facade undulates more where the sun is hitting directly in order to shade the facade and minimize hot spots along the surface. 

site manipulation

To zone the site we used a basic series of information overlays that started with a grid extension of current streets. By identifying nodes and making connections between them we divided the site into various zones, some for housing units and others for public parks. We placed buildings in the designated zones to create the planned experiences. Walkways between the buildings add to overall outdoor experience and provide a transition between the zones. 

unit manipulation

We applied the same logic of our site zoning to the layout of units. Experiential balconies along the facade drive the organization of the units. Connections between these balconies became our hallways. The negative space provided the layout for the residential units. Because the hallways flow from balcony to balcony, they allow adequate light to fill the interior of the building and for natural ventilation to occur.