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December 9, 2011 / mandyhyj

Ecology. Design. Syntheses

Today I went through the reading Professor Sherman mentioned in class: Ecology, Design, Syntheses. I liked how the reading clearly laid out the different biophysical facts and elements, followed by a detailed example. The reading covers temperature, air, light, material and human scale. I found the examples given in the reading particularly interesting.

The Senscity uses a giant flower structure to modulate the temperature in the desert of Las Vegas

The Genzyme Corporate Headquaters uses light chandelier to catch more daylight and create interest variation of different light effects.

December 9, 2011 / mandyhyj

Guest Lecture Response

On 29th November, we had a guest lecture by Carries and Kevin Burke. They shared some of their design principles and some projects.

One thing strikes me about their design is the effort and precision they put into consideration of human experience of the built environment. They are able to think and work at different scales. And the consideration of human and human-environment relation is always the foundation of their thinking.

The 10 Hannover Principles summarizes this mindset that we need to keep while exercise the technology.

They also went on talking about one of the readings we did earlier this semester: Cradle to Cradle. They believe that design and science coming together creating positive impacts with design. Take–> Make –> Waste is a Cradle to Grave design paradigm, and what they want to do is to change this paradigm to a new Cradle to Cradle paradigm.

I liked their Timepiece project a lot. The awareness of Sun and the feeling of attachment and connection with the nature is elicited through the track of the sun position. The relation between the sun and human activity is explicitly presented. It reminds me of the question that Professor Sherman asked during the first class: how many of you knows where the Sun is now at this time of the day? I remember I was among one of those who had no idea. And the sun dial competition we had, is also about to learn to predict the position of the sun. We orient our sun in our local environment and try to position and somehow record it within the local scale; at the same time, we orient our activities according on the conditions of the larger scale, replying on the Sun, the light and the dark.


December 7, 2011 / mandyhyj

Moe -Interactive Surfaces

Moe explains that human skin is a thermally active surface. 47.5% of heat transfer is through radiant transfer. Skin “regulates deep and surface body temperature through hydronic exchanges with the integumentary and circulatory systems that use the skin as a thermal sink and source”. “Thermally active surfaces are based upon radiant heat exchange between a body’s skin and the mean radiant temperature (MRT) of a thermally active space.” The following diagram explained the heat transfer between the human body and different building parts through different means.

Moe pointed out in the reading that an important aspect of thermally active surfaces is that they are low-tech yet high performance and are thus equally applicable in the developed and developing worlds. I think this is one of the most important qualities of thermally active surfaces that distinguishes it from other sustainable design strategies. A design could only be sustainable when it’s affordable to most of people if not all. An economically demanding strategy is not sustainable by itself since the high capital input just discourages people from adopting it despite the great potential benefits the design could bring. Moe said in the reading that “unlike many approaches to integrated design such as BIM or digital fabrication, thermally active surface systems are not capital intensive economic proposals.” “Thermally active surface systems stand to make large changes in energy, material, and design practices with only small changes to contemporary practices.”

This reminds me of some vernacular thermally active surfaces that’s adopted by people in the rural part of northern China. Explained by Moe in his another writing, this design is called Chinese Kang, a thermally active bed. “In this system, the living space of the house was a few feet bove the level of the kitchen and fireplace in an adjacent room.” Hot air is channelled horizontally from the fire. There are slots built under the finished floor from the fireplace to and exterior chimney. The floor slab is made of concrete coated with clay. And on top of this are layers of oiled paper and floor mats. When heat warms up the concrete, the space above is heated up as well mainly due to radiant effect. the bed surface is then heated up as well and transfer heat to human body, mainly through conduction. Here, radiation is the main starting process of heat transfer, followed by more direct conduction. The following diagram explains this system.

This “Kang”, thermally active bed was very popular in northern China in the past when modern heating systems were not available. And the low cost of implementation made it prevalent in rural lower income parts as well. I think this example further demonstrates Moe’s point of the low economic cost and the equal availability to both developing and developed worlds, of thermally active surfaces systems. Though more new heating devices came out with modern inventions, this Chinese Kang is still in practice in northern part of China. This in turn demonstrated the sustainability and durability of the system.



November 29, 2011 / mandyhyj

Assignment 5


My site for my final project is 28th street 10th avenue, New York City. The purpose of the project is to build a mix-used office building for Freitag, which is a Swiss bag company. Programs include workshop, retail space, offices, meeting room, etc. I started this assignment by analyzing the natural condition of the site. By overlaying solar diagrams and prevailing wind diagram on top of the site plan, I realized that the major problem of the site is the the pre-existing building in the site blocks most of the southern light to my building.

Site plan

Sun path in the summer

Sun path in the winter

The prevailing wind in the winter is longitudinal to my building, and transverse in the summer. And again, the summer trans-pass wind is blocked by the high residential building right next to my building.

Prevailing wind in 12 months

Prevailing wind in the winter

Prevailing wind in the summer

Besides the natural system of the site, there is also a system consisting of human activities. In my site, there is a pre-existing building. The function of the old building is residential and commercial. The bottom floor of the existing building is now a small gourmet  store. By studying the surrounding blocks, I learned that there is very few places in the neighborhood that could provide the same service. So this exiting gourmet store is important to people’s life in the surround neighborhood, though itself is fairly small and the building weathered over the years. I’m going to keep this element of gourmet and grocery store in my new building due to its importance in the larger human activity system.

Building Sections

Besides the specific requirements of the client (visibility, vertical connectivity, etc.), my main task is to overcome the physical constrain of the site which is lack of southern light, and also to incorporate an old commercial and residential mixed-used building into a new building system.

Here are my longitudinal and transverse building sections.

Transverse Section

To tackle the problem of light, i used skylight to capture winter sunlight with small solar altitude, and I used translucent material on the roof  to capture steep summer daylight. The relative private part (office, meeting room, studio) of the building is heated by an indoor gulf stream system.

Longitudinal building section

As shown in the diagram, the private part occupies the old building space. A new layer of wall is inserted into the old exterior wall. The apertures on the old “skin” are kept the same.

Main strategies

The cafe is 5 feet below street level, and two sides of the cafe are make of glass wall. This is to allow greater amount of sunlight going into the cafe.

There is a chimney going through spaces which require better ventilation. These spaces are kitchen of the cafe, bathroom and pantry. The existing windows on the old “skin” line up with the natural prevailing wind direction, further facilitating the chimney effect.

Extrusion of the upper level provides shading for the outdoor space on the west side of the building. At the same time, the specific angle is just big enough to allow desired winter sunlight to come in.

As mentioned earlier, the office area in the old part is separated (both functionally and structurally) from the rest of the building. An interior gulf stream is set up by a hot heating plate on the meeting room level and  a cold cooing plate on the studio level. The floor could be heated by embedded heating tubes in the calling/floor. A detailed diagram is shown in a section later. The cooling plate could be a small pond or an artificially cooled plate.

Room Section

Section of the retail space

This is a detailed section of the retail/exhibition space on the west side. The client wants the building to be highly visible to the pedestrians. So most part of the building is made of transparent material. The use of transparent material allows natural lighting during the day(normal store hours). However the east-west orientation poses a problem of strong west sunlight in the afternoon. I made the roof extruding out to provide shading. Also the banners and advertisements could be hung on the side glass walls both to block undesired light coming from changing directions due to change of season, and to increase publicity of the brand.

The outdoor stair is designed to provide a place to view the Highline from above. I used concrete as the main material and layered wood on top. The concrete is to better retain heat since it’s a good thermal mass; the wood is to mediate the extreme temperature conditions so that human comfort is increased. During the winter the wood surface would not be as cold as a concrete surface and wood also would not be as hot as concrete under extreme heat.

Wall Section

November 26, 2011 / mandyhyj

Revisiting lecture reading -Rahm, gulf stream and my final project

Today, I watched a video about Philippe Rahm It introduces the concept of gulf stream and the research house for Dominique Gonzalez- Foerster, which appeared in one of the readings we had earlier this semester (Energies by Rahm). The animation of air convention and of the positioning of different programs at different heights according to thermal temperature to restore the diverse relationship between body and the building environment reminds me of my final project. I realized that this internal gulf stream is applicable to my final project and could help me solve the problem of keeping a relative consistent temperature in a large space. So I decided to revisit the earlier reading to further support my final project.

The basic idea of the gulf stream is that two plates of different temperatures are placed at different heights with the colder one on top and the hotter one on the bottom. Like a miniature gulf stream, this position creates a flow of air because hot lighter air keeps moving upwards and colder denser air keeps moving downwards. The following diagram illustrates the positioning and thermal energy flow:

The research house for Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster applies this concept on a scale of home and created an indoor gulf stream. Rooms with different functions are assigned with an average temperature according to the activity that’s been carried out in this particular room. This positioning restores the relationship between body and the environment, or thermal environment to be more specific. At the same time, this passive design makes the thermal environment more stable because the thermal energy flow within the house follows the thermal gradient consisting of temperatures of different rooms, which are pre-determined by the programs of the rooms. The mechanism itself is natural and does not require external energy supply.

The following is a diagram of the positioning of different rooms in the research house for Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster


This idea is useful to my final project in helping me create thermal and air convection throughout the seven floors in my building. In my building, I have a lightwell-like space (8ft * 50ft) on the south side. The floors in this space are porous, like the tech bridge at the 4th floor studio, so that air and heat could move freely throughout the building. Program at different level requires and at the same time creates different thermal conditions. The bottom floor is a small restaurant, which has a high temperature, the middle floors are meeting room, offices, and studio space, which have various temperatures all lower than restaurant’s temperature. The floor above is partially exhibition room. And on the top is visiting artist’s apartment and a rooftop garden. This positioning generally follows the pattern of the two thermal plates. Warmer air from the bottom would move upward and the cooler air from the rooftop garden would move downward.

However the exhibition room still counter-heat-flow. I would need to reorganize the position of the exhibition room, or make it relatively separated from this gulf stream. Also the connectivity between different floors matters as well.

More detailed diagram coming in the final assignment!


November 19, 2011 / mandyhyj

In Praise of Shadows

In Praise of Shadows by Tanizaki opens up my thoughts on the difference between the Eastern and the Western cultures, and directs the focus on the different perception and use of light/shadow, which I have not realized before. To me, being exposed to cultures from both sides, I always think that the main difference is between the directness of the westerners and subtlety of the easterners: the western or the westerners being more direct and bold; the easterners being more implicit and unexposed. This difference is reflected in arts, literatures, and even people’s mind-sets. However, I didn’t realize that light and shadow have played such an important role.

Tanizaki observed topics such as toilet, lacquerware, paper, pen/brush and temples etc. When he talks about toilet, he said that

“the cleanliness of what can be seen only calls up the more clearly thoughts of what cannot be seen. In such places the distinction between the clean and the unclean is best left obscure, shrouded in a dusky haze.”

I think what he was suggesting was the use of shadows in the Japanese or Asian style toilets. Light and shadow are always relative, the brighter it is exposed, the darker there could be unexposed, or at least leaves to one’s imagination.

He also talked about paper. “western paper is to us no more than something to e used, while the texture of Chinese paper and Japanese paper gives us a certain feeling of warmth, of calm and repose”. I definitely agree with this. It reminds me of the time when I was younger  that my parents forced me to go to Chinese calligraphy class hoping that I could be more patient by learning Chinese brush calligraphy. I’m not sure if it has achieved the effect that my parents have hope, but I do feel the “calm and repose” Tanizaki was refereeing to. “western paper turns away the light, while our paper seems to take it in, to envelop it gently, like the soft surface of a first snowfall. it gives off no sound when it is crumpled pr folded, it is quiet and pliant to the touch as the leaf of a tree.”  I think this specially “light absorbing quality” is due to the roughness of Chinese paper. you can see the layers on the Chinese paper, from which you might start imagine the different ingredients putting into the making of this sheet of paper in front of you, and the process that created this layering. The rough surface does not reflect light directly as sleek western writing paper. the light reflecting from Chinese paper becomes softer and more diffused. Softer and diffused light can create a calming and comforting feeling. This is similar to the museum lighting in the Kimbell Art Museum we talked about in class. Here is a comparison between western and Chinese paper.

November 8, 2011 / mandyhyj

Assignment 4

The output my my assignment 4 is a webpage. Here’s the link :



Benedikt, Michael. Deconstructing the Kimbell : An Essay on Meaning and

Architecture. New York, NY: Sites Books, 1991. Print.

Brawne, Michael. Kimbell Art Museum : Louis I. Kahn. London: Phaidon, 1992. Print.

—. Kimbell Art Museum : Louis I. Kahn. London: Phaidon, 1992. Print.

Fleming. “Timely Timelessness: Traditional Proportions and Modern Practice in Kahn’s

Kimbell Museum.” Nexus network journal 8.1 (2006): 33-52. Print.

Kahn, Louis I., Gioia Gattamorta, and Luca Rivalta. Louis I. Kahn : Kimbell Art

Museum. 10 Vol. Firenze: Alinea, 1991. Print.

—. Louis I. Kahn : Kimbell Art Museum. 10 Vol. Firenze: Alinea, 1991. Print.

Kahn, Louis I., and Nell E. Johnson. Light is the Theme : Louis I. Kahn and the

Kimbell Art Museum : Comments on Architecture. 1st ed. Fort Worth, Tex.:

Kimbell Art Foundation, 1975. Print.

Sirefman, Susanna. “Formed and Forming: Contemporary Museum Architecture.”

Daedalus (Cambridge, Mass.) 128.3 (1999): 297. Print.

Vandenberg, Maritz, and Michael Brawne. Twentieth-Century Museums I : By Ludwig
Mies Van Der Rohe, Louis Kahn and Richard Meier. London: Phaidon, 1999. Print.