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November 6, 2011 / mandyhyj

On Ventilation

Last week we had the reading about ventilation strategies and applications in buildings.  Kwok and Grondzik mainly talked about different ventilation strategies: cross ventilation, stack ventilation, evaporational pool, night ventilation of thermal mass, and earth cooling tubes. With the diagrams given, I had a better understanding of how each type of ventilation works.

One thing that Kwok and Grondzik mentioned in the article, which I totally agreed with is that one needs to match climate-based design strategies to the local climate and really understand the operation patterns of the building. Thinking about the buildings I’ve seen in Singapore and China, I can’t agree more that ventilation strategies meet not only the purpose of ventilation but facilitate the general function of the building as well. Here is an example that came into my mind that uses natural ventilation strategies to solve problems specifically in a local environment and also meets the function of the building.

National Library, Singapore

Architect: Ken Yeang

The national library in Singapore used a wide range of green feature; research shows that the environmental impact of this 15-story building is lower than an average office building. It adopted passive design strategies like natural ventilation, maximum daylighting, special orientation away from east-west sun, automatic sunshades at the building facades, use of rain sensors as part of the automatic irrigation system for the rooftop garden.

Among all these design strategies, I think ventilation is one of the most important aspects due to the humid tropical climate. The library is designed to create a stack ventilation effect. The diagram in Kwok and Grondzik illustrates this effect.

A workable stack height is established in the building. The first floor may be ventilated using a stack.  Outside is flushed into the building providing a cooling effect.

In the National Library, similar strategy is adopted. There is a central atrium space covered by stacks of thermal masses on top. This structure encourages airflow from outside to the interior space through the inlets, creating a cool internal civic space. Venders usually set up booth in the central plaza and various activities take place in the linking plaza space as well.


The design of the National Library is sustainable in a way that responds to the local environment and fits in the daily operation of the building.  The National Library that Ken Yeang designed is the biggest library in Singapore. It is not just a public library but also provides venue for other activities, like conferences, cultural performances and competitions, exhibitions, etc. The central internal streets and plaza serve as essential part of the stack effect, and also as the main area for various activities. The design also meets the basic function of the building- to provide a studying area for the public. The use of maximum daylight not only saves energy, but also creates a comfortable studying condition. The roof top gardens provide resting spaces and at the same time controls temperature and provides fresh air. Another smart passive design strategy is that the building uses rain water for the irrigation system. This system works especially well in Singapore because the climate in Singapore has a distinct and fairly long rain season. Collection of rainwater would be sufficient for garden irrigation.

[central interior streets and plaza ]

[rooftop gardens]

[daylight lit study room]

Just like Kwok and Grondzik said, good passive design strategies match strategy to the climate and responds to the patterns of building usage. And the National Library in Singapore definitely meets these requirements.

October 18, 2011 / mandyhyj

Assignment 3

In this assignment, I chose the time period from 6pm to 10pm on a Saturday night for the study of energy consumption pattern. During this time, the main activities I do are:

  • 6-8pm Dinner 
  • Making dinner
  • Eating dinner
  • 8-9pm Grocery
  • Drive to and back from the grocery store
  • 9-10pm Entertainment 
  • Surf the Internet on my laptop

During this period of time, energy is consumed in different form to perform different tasks: to enable body function like walking around the grocery store and driving a car, to enable a car to move, to make a computer function, to provide heat for cooking, to control the temperature in the house and in the grocery store, etc. To sum up, the main “destinations” of energy are body function, transportation, entertainment, temperature control, cooking and of course energy losses in almost every stage of energy conversion. From these needs, I traced back to where these different types of energy came from and then made a diagram.

From the diagram, I can see that there are some ways I can change the global impact of my web. At the scale of the individual, I could have walked to the grocery store, or to take public transport, so that to decrease the energy consumption by transportation and thus reduce the need for petroleum and ultimately use less resource those are required for petroleum extraction.  At the scale of the habitable space, we could have designed buildings more efficiently/encourage passive design, so that the amount of energy used for temperature control would be less. This will ultimately lead to less consumption of water, wind, coal, natural gas etc. At the scale of infrastructural network, we could design more efficient energy transmission systems so that less energy would be lost during transmission. Also we could use more wind, hydro and solar electricity generators instead of conventional coal generators.

October 12, 2011 / mandyhyj

thoughts on prefab houses

Last week we had a guest lecture by Prof John Quele. One of the things he talked about really intrigued me was the ideas of prefab housing and the controversial opinions about prefab housing. After the lecture, I did a little bit research on prefab houses. One interesting thing I found was that, prefab housing is actually not a new invention; From 1945-1948, more than 156,000 pre-fabricated houses were built in UK. Prefab houses were built to rehouse the people whose homes were destroyed by bombs during the war. Prefab homes also helped England recover from the recession.


(old prefab houses in London. Most of them were demolished)

Nowadays, prefab homes are getting more popular, especially in America. Compared to conventional on-site constructed homes, prefab homes require less labor, less on-site construction time, save more materials and energy due to economy of scale.

The Bliss House in London is an example of quickly constructed prefab house.

The Bliss House in North London, was prefabricated beforehand, and was constructed by 6 men in 6 days on site. It is a duplex, which consists of two private 4000 sq feet residences. Prefabrication made this speedy construction possible.

However, whether prefab houses are really cheaper, efficient and eco-friendly is still a myth. The reason why prefab houses take less labor onsite is because in the factory, the construction of the individual pieces takes a lot of manpower and machinery. And the overhead cost of labor and machinery actually made the price of prefab houses not cheap. Only when there is a constant high demand of prefab houses, would the cost of prefab houses decrease. And as Prof Quele mentioned in lecture, prefab houses produce redundant walls, which could be avoided in traditional onsite constructed houses. And transportation takes much energy and labor as well. Furthermore, certain parts of the construction process, like foundation, water and electricity, still takes a lot of time.

In my opinion, reuse, or maybe a hybrid of reuse and prefab, may be a better solution. One good example I could think of is the S(ch)austall by FNP Architekten. A new prefab wood frame is inserted into an old 18-century pigsty, creating a new showroom.

October 4, 2011 / mandyhyj

assignment 2


2. During the game, I was very lost in the beginning. And one thing I realized  was that those people who didn’t understand how the system works started to discuss amongst themselves, share decisions they’ve made and profits/results they’ve achieved. Though nobody fully understood how it worked at the beginning, but through a collective process, we sort of figured out how the process ran. I think this self-initiated information sharing process is something I didn’t realize before. about system. A system has a self-gathering and self-correction function that brings certain members of the group together, to solve a problem. The information of one single individual may not be the most accurate, the gathering, filtering and discussion of these information, would produce a conclusion that consolidates opinions form individual members. This function/process in real life, could be a public hearing, city council meeting.

3. I was a waterman at the Eastern Shore. One strategy I would propose is to allow player to form allies. For example, watermen from the same watershed are allowed to act collectively, or to combine certain amount of their resources to make decision.

Meadows talked about how different units in a system could have diverse purposes, and individual tends to behave in a way such that the individual would gain the maximum benefit. Thus, by uniting the players together, we can avoid one waterman over-harvesting. By bonding them together, each of them would get a guaranteed fair share of the total profit, and at the same time they would not have to worry about crab resource in the bay being depleted by other watermen because all the watermen make a carefully calculated decision together to make sure that the totally amount harvested is desired.

However, the players might still have the tendency to secretly harvest crabs beyond the agreed amount. Then there should be certain punishment to accompany this strategy. Whoever forms a union with another must obey the terms, or he/she will be banned from the game for one round. And the regulator could step in to ensure members of the union are not cheating.

In reality, this strategy takes in different forms, like the World Trade Organization, and the UN. Each member has to obey certain rules in order to get guaranteed protection from the union.

Hence, through the formation of unions, individual diverse purposes are resolved into a bigger purpose(s) of the union. And profit of each player is more stable and predictable.

September 28, 2011 / mandyhyj

Assignment 1 correction

I realigned my photo with the sun path chart. The red dot indicates the position of the sun at the time when I was taking photos. I chose this site because there is a mixture of trees and different types of houses around it. The variety of house heights allowed me to get more reference points so that I could align the chart with the site photo better.

September 27, 2011 / mandyhyj

Reading Cities through the Lens of Ecosystem

Forman and Newman both analyzed architecture, urban planning and land-use by treating the whole site/city/region as a whole ecosystem. Forman explained the principle and terms in ecology using example of neighborhood and communities; Newman more specifically treats cities as ecosystems and also brings in social aspects.

Forman explains the principle of connectivity and circuitry in the diagram below

Connectivity and circuitry determines the flexibility and effectiveness of linkages in a system. This idea is reflected in Newman’s writing as well. Newman believes that in order for a city to be flexible, we should increase civic participation, encourage partnerships and networks, have a decentralized and polycentric structures, and make the decision making process place-based. These policies are all to ensure that there is more connectivity within a community, so that to ensure more effective information flow and as a result social capitals in the community could be used more effectively. Newman applied the principles and brings in more social economical insights.

September 21, 2011 / mandyhyj

the Bay Game I

Today we started on the Bay  Game. I’m a waterman at eastern shore. Though we didn’t get the chance to actually play the game, we started discussion about how each role’s feedback loops would be like during workshop. As we started thinking about the loop, there came the question: different people may have different goals even if they are playing the same role. For example, some waterman could be profit-driven, and others could be environment-aware. Each unit of the system may have different intentions and they may not reflect the goal of the system as whole. For example, a profit-driven waterman would catch as much fish as he can and totally deplete the fish stock in the bay. However, it is definitely not the ultimate goal of the whole ecosystem. This idea ties back to first week’s reading. Meadows talked about subunits and the system “in fact, one of the most frustrating aspects of systems is that the purposes of subunits may ad up to an overall behavior that no one wants.” In this case, one of the undesired results was caused by tragedy of the commons. And I think one of the only ways to solve the root problem is to educate the subunits of the system.

Just some initial thoughts about the game. more reactions coming next week.