“Landscapes of Convection” is a final master course project of Timothy Ryan Brennan, done in Thermodynamic Somatisms / Verticalscapes – core studio held by Abalos+Sentkiewicz Arquitectos at BIArch – Barcelona Institute of Architecture. This strikingly efficient building, set in Barcelona, is an investigation, seeking to consolidate an advanced understanding of new, hybrid typologies in association with thermodynamics, experimenting with various somatic aspects of human behavior.
This project examines the interior climate of an enclosed architectural spaces, in this case the mixed use office building, which ideally remains at a temperature between 20 and 26 degrees Celsius – suitable for the human body to be comfortable in motion. Pressured by market driven solutions which directly engage the comfort of the user, the thermodynamic office typology challenges the most current demand and sustainable measure – the ideal thermal comfort of the human body within space. The Landscapes of Convection: A Thermodynamic Office Building is a hybrid architectural thermodynamic entity that engages this discussion.
Barcelona’s climate maintains a fairly steady yearly temperature average, ranging from 14 degrees Celsius in winter to 24 degrees Celsius in summer, substantiating a necessary examination into diurnal heat transfers. As it does not fluctuate to meet either of the climactic extremes, it becomes of crucial importance to find a strategy that prioritizes passive over active strategies in efforts to resolve daily cycles of heat transfers. Barcelona, located in a sub – tropical climate zone, presents many interesting climactic issues, noticeable in large percentage of cities on the Mediterranean coast. Its primary concern – the profusion of solar insolation, is a challenge that is abundant through many areas of the world. As a case study, Barcelona has been chosen as the site for the evaluation of the typical “sub-tropic” climactic scenario.
The external Barcelona form allows for the lowest ratio of heat loss from the building envelope and maintains a compact core necessary for the storage and transfer of thermal energy. Through an inclusive micro climate, and by reducing the wind velocity during winter months, the form can be optimized and reconfigured to achieve required site-specific climatic strategies. Similarly, a solar shelf façade and elevated floors slabs enhance the flow of natural and active energy sources within the interior spaces of the building.
The thermodynamic office typology is a mixed use building, engaging material choices for their ability to gather or reject thermal energy – to emit or engage through their conductive properties – not for aesthetic purposes. An internal patio – a passive strategy – is used to create a secondary micro-climactic environment, aiding the recycling and exchanging of thermal energy emitted from inhabitants and materials through architectural form – through elevated floor slabs that enhance convective cycles, through fenestration that allows strategic manipulation of solar accumulation and natural ventilation and via active systems (air to air heat exchanger) that emulate and augment the vertical transfer of thermal energy.
Its notion sets to recalibrate and redefine the necessity of machines to dominate our internal office environments. This new thermodynamic typology seeks to use what seems to be the inevitable and continual agglomeration of productive entities, including resources and inhabitants in the mixed use “office” environment – in the form of energy – as a new climactic medium.