Sunday, January 2, 2011

Ecoscapa | Open Source Architecture

Ecoscape is a proposal for a research center located in the California Mountains. Its design addresses the extreme weather conditions of its location. The proposed design integrates nature and architecture into a responsive system. This is accomplished by treating the extreme conditions of the site as the means for the formal and conceptual evolution of the project. Ecoscape’s skin is constituted of photovoltaic cells. Its surface geometry maximizes solar exposure by responding to a wide range of environmental parameters. These parameters are integrated to an algorithm that transforms and optimizes the surface geometry. Considering the requirement to design a project that would be self-sustainable, the maximized skin offers an important increase of energy production.
Customized according to the principles of discreet geometrical systems, the structure is a contemporary system led by a technological convergence of properties that generates its own natural paradigm. Its hypothesis seeks a modality that would engender architecture as nature by the use of cladding that generates both internal climatic and external architectural conditions such as skin and landscape. The structure does not only concentrate on the performance of the architectural entity as a matter of climatic conditions, but asks to treat the environment as an inclusive situation in which climate, surface and landscape are integrated to propose the evolution of events. Applying this methodology, the structure advances the architectural discourse concerning architecture and nature a step further. It functions as an interface between architecture and nature, literally and conceptually. Based on a horizontal meshed surface, the resulting model is exemplified by a geometry that integrates all movements of the vertexes registered by the algorithm at work. Because Ecoscape’s skin is made out of in-print photovoltaic cells, the Computational Parametric Interface (CPI) assures stability of the ratio between the PV-cells’ energy reception and the sun’s intensity.
Environmental Systems Narrative

As the relationship of the building to the solar movement has generated the conceptual strategy for the morphology, the building utilizes the solar energy for the creation of electricity as well as passive heating. The areas of the roof that distort to the optimal efficient angle in relation to the sun are covered with building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) surface. BIPV is a system that sandwiches photovoltaic cells between two layers of glass, creating a building enclosure system where the wall or roof is the photovoltaic surface reducing the redundancy of the traditionally separated systems. In between the BIPV, the roof will be clad with Texlon Foil Systems. The foil is transparent and has high durable features, in addition to its lightweight or insulating properties. It is an intelligent and dynamic system that has the capability to adjust its shading, thermal, and aesthetic characteristics as the sun moves across the sky, responding to specific program and climatic requirements. Together, the BIPV and the Texlon Foil Systems will be able to absorb and adjust to the solar movement. Their maximal exposure to the sun and the heat generated by the BIPV and Texlon Foil Systems will ensure that all ice and assembled snow will melt and disappear. The building utilizes passive solar heat through southern orientation of the building providing large quantity of glazing allowing the sun to
penetrate the building and be absorbed by the thermal mass of the floor slab, storing the heat during the day and radiating it into the space at night.

Electricity will be generated through two methods for this project. The aforementioned BIPV system will provide electricity from solar conversion while the second method will supplement the PV’s through the use of the existing underutilized hydro-electric generator on site.
But in the case where this project is considered as a prototype and a hydro-electric generator would not be an option in another location, a Flywheel Energy Storage solution could be implemented to supplement the BIPV’s. Flywheel technology is conceptually simple consisting of a flywheel constructed of carbon fiber and polycyanate resin spinning at 60,000 RPM on magnetic bearings in a vacuum chamber. The magnetic bearings minimize friction by allowing the wheel and axle to float in a magnetic field while the vacuum chamber minimizes friction from wind. The spinning wheel is allowed to rotate relatively freely and is attached to a brushless generator, creating electricity. When the wheel eventually slows, the generator can be utilized as a motor to power the wheel back up to speed. The system is small with a unit the size of a coffee pot producing 50kWh and is relatively maintenance free.

Heat will be generated through the utilization of a geothermal heat pump that is an electrically powered system that taps the largest solar collector we have, the earth. The system consists of a closed loop of pipes filled with water that is either buried in the earth or in the nearby pond. Further geotechnical analysis is required to determine the optimal solution. The naturally heated water is pumped through the hydronic radiant floor slab to heat the occupiable space. Hot water for plumbing purposes is created by the utilization of a desuperheater that uses a portion of the heat from the geothermal process.

Natural ventilation will be utilized for cooling in the summer months. The width of the building in the north south direction allows for easy cross ventilation from low operable windows for air intake and high windows for exhaust, cooling the building during the day and if needed at night

Via O-S-A

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