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id diss_marsh
authors Marsh, A.J.
year 1997
title Performance Analysis and Conceptual Design
source School of Architecture and Fine Arts, University of Western Australia
summary A significant amount of the research referred to by Manning has been directed into the development of computer software for building simulation and performance analysis. A wide range of computational tools are now available and see relatively widespread use in both research and commercial applications. The focus of development in this area has long been on the accurate simulation of fundamental physical processes, such as the mechanisms of heat flow though materials, turbulent air movement and the inter-reflection of light. The adequate description of boundary conditions for such calculations usually requires a very detailed mathematical model. This has tended to produce tools with a very engineering-oriented and solution-based approach. Whilst becoming increasingly popular amongst building services engineers, there has been a relatively slow response to this technology amongst architects. There are some areas of the world, particularly the UK and Germany, where the use of such tools on larger projects is routine. However, this is almost exclusively during the latter stages of a project and usually for purposes of plant sizing or final design validation. The original conceptual work, building form and the selection of materials being the result of an aesthetic and intuitive process, sometimes based solely on precedent. There is no argument that an experienced designer is capable of producing an excellent design in this way. However, not all building designers are experienced, and even fewer have a complete understanding of the fundamental physical processes involved in building performance. These processes can be complex and often highly inter-related, often even counter-intuitive. It is the central argument of this thesis that the needs of the building designer are quite different from the needs of the building services engineer, and that existing building design and performance analysis tools poorly serve these needs. It will be argued that the extensive quantitative input requirement in such tools acts to produce a psychological separation between the act of design and the act of analysis. At the conceptual stage, building geometry is fluid and subject to constant change, with solid quantitative information relatively scarce. Having to measure off surface areas or search out the emissivity of a particular material forces the designer to think mathematically at a time when they are thinking intuitively. It is, however, at this intuitive stage that the greatest potential exists for performance efficiencies and environmental economies. The right orientation and fenestration choice can halve the airconditioning requirement. Incorporating passive solar elements and natural ventilation pathways can eliminate it altogether. The building form can even be designed to provide shading using its own fabric, without any need for additional structure or applied shading. It is significantly more difficult and costly to retrofit these features at a later stage in a projectís development. If the role of the design tool is to serve the design process, then a new approach is required to accommodate the conceptual phase. This thesis presents a number of ideas on what that approach may be, accompanied by some example software that demonstrates their implementation.
series thesis:PhD
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