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Title: Sensual building systems: a thermodynamic approach to urban public space
Authors: Jankovich, Marie
Keywords: Energy phenomena;thermodynamics;multi-sensory environments;building systems;urban park;thermal culture;sustainability;well-being
Issue Date: 12-May-2020
Abstract: There is energy all around us, left unperceived by the senses. At the interface of the envelope, energy transformations are constantly occurring within the layers. For architectural design, these predominantly unseen energies affect perceptions of the exterior, and potential ‘felt’ experiences of the interior. The zones of energy that exist amongst the envelope should not separate the interior from the exterior, rather they should be seen as a transformative system of exchange between the exterior and the body within a thermodynamic space. In effect, this creates a zone ‘in-between,’ with various ergonomic conditions that can be felt by the body. Within the urban environment there is constant sensory overload. Preference is given towards natural environments for places of relaxation and well-being. Parks and green-spaces attempt to encourage comfort in the city, but the provided places rarely consider the dynamics of the seasons and the interactions between demographics. By filtering and modulating our perceptions of ‘energy,’ and the occurrence of microclimates, there can be a re-attunement towards the ways urban environments are perceived and experienced. The awakening of thermal perceptions can increase sensitivity to the ‘felt’ senses, tempering the visual, and promoting well-being through sensual building systems. In terms of sustainable design, common approaches rarely look at the provided support for the occupants’ well-being and the relationship between the body and the ‘felt experience’ of architecture. Sustainable practice tends to focus on quantitative factors rather than qualitative needs. With a lack of visual means and simulation technologies to understand thermal behaviour and the energy transformations that occur, sustainability has a difficult time advancing in terms of well-being and body comfort. Accordingly, there should be an alternative perspective on energy. Where energy is understood as a vital component to public space and the interactions between people and their experiences within the built environment. As the hub for Northern Ontario, Downtown Sudbury will be investigated, along with the need for urban public space under winter conditions. At the proposed Downtown site of 70 Elm street, the public space will engage the varied demographics, whilst providing an intriguing insight into designing with thermal energy. As a south facing pocket park condition, the public space will bring a thermally-rich engagement towards the senses, and serve to generate positive experiences, for a new perception towards urban environments. In turn, a more inclusive micro-culture will be formed through the incorporation of ‘energetic’ interactions, acting as a social and sensory therapy to destress and connect with others, and become more attune to urban thermodynamic surroundings. Experimentations with thermal energy and energy phenomena will be conducted to understand thermal radiation and laminar flow to ultimately create a range of potential ‘felt’ experiences amongst threshold spaces, suggesting activities for warmth or cooling. The method of thermal imaging will develop an understanding of material application and form, in terms of thermal conductivity and mass. The findings will lead to a knowledge of spatial properties, creating platforms with spaces that are thermally ergonomic and can be modulated for customized comfort. From the research into thermodynamics and the zone of concern being the ‘in-between’, the experiments will provide a translation of these interests to potential sensory experiences; enabling an urban site to be conceived for community healing and well-being.
Appears in Collections:Architecture - Master's Theses
Master's Theses

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