The Master's of Architecture thesis project explores our attitudes towards the thermal control of the interior environment. Modern buildings with their mechanically-controlled interiors, act as vivaria of a kind: enabling the theater of human activity indoors to proceed as though weather, climate, geography, and nighttime did not exist. The project is a rhetorical one which proposes sometimes-funny energy solutions that attempt to run the edge between the possible and the probable: solutions which may not seem completely pragmatic now, but which widen the horizon of the future's energy solutions.
Its premise is that sustainability requires us not only to be more efficient, but to think differently towards resource and envelope, and to make lifestyle changes. We must broaden our attitude towards resources to include not only the utility connections, but also any other possible sources of thermal conditioning, such as the body heat of pedestrians in high-traffic areas, or the high-velocity cool air available at higher elevations. The expectation that the inside environment always be sixty-eight degrees and 500 lumens is challenged: the building's interior spaces are choreographed to include hotter and colder regions, and occupation habits are imagined to shift seasonally. The building envelope is largely eliminated, replaced with an occupant-assembled insulation layer of off-season clothes storage, cardboard packing material from retail stores, and the like.
The thesis investigates a culture of thermal activity with which we, as occupants of glass boxes, may be unfamiliar. The resulting picture of an urban midrise at the corner of Battery & Broadway in Manhattan portrays a life much more concerned with temperature, and by extension energy consumption, than the life we know today.
M.Arch thesis advised by Sheila Kennedy, Mark Jarzombek, and Joel Lamere at MIT, Fall 2011.