Portland Metropolitan Sustainable Community School
Learning is, and should be, a continuous and life long process. While there are many forms of education and learning, our formal education received in schools should be of the highest quality in all regards. Facilitating, through design, holistic, inclusive, diverse and quality education is the goal with the Metropolitan Sustainable Community School (MSCS).
From our culture, and all those within, to the international community in which we belong we are tightly linked through all the various forms of life and knowledge. Making and understanding these connections facilitates the greater good of our towns, cities, countries and earth. Schools have the ability to help make these connections through teaching. However, most current systems rely on the separation of subjects, thus breaking these connections, which is furthered by the designs of our schools.
Learning can come from facts, memorization, and simple instruction. But, knowledge seems to stem from an understanding of these things, which simply cannot be reached with so much disconnect and separation of "the big ideas". For example, war isn't understood solely from who one or lost, how many died and what dates it stopped and started. It is instead an interrelated mix of sentiments, politics, money, power, ideologies, territory and even much more; all overlapping and affecting one and the same.
Trying to make these connections bleeds from the program of the school to how these spaces are actually designed. If, for example a fourth grade class learns partially about science from growing their own food and cooking it, there is also the possibility of incorporating math and an understanding of the body and health within the same "class". This vastly changes these spaces architecturally and to how it is these spaces are used and designed. Can they be changed and altered for each use? What uses and relationships are created with other spaces? How do these overlap?
With these thoughts and questions in mind, along with spaces such as a library, drama and music halls that functions both for the school and the community, and infinitely flexible classrooms the MSCS starts to become vibrant and interesting not only as an idea, but also as a prototype and an architectural statement.
The classroom ‘school house’ clusters are organized around the elongated central courtyard based from traditional campus planning as well as organic notions of hierarchical distribution. At every level in the school students have direct access to the library, as the private portion of the library is stacked vertically.
The older the student get the higher up in the school they find their educational environment. Younger students remain lower in the school, rooted to the ground plane, the ever energetic are able to easily flush into the park blocks and play grounds during curriculum passing time.
Older students, more concerned with social engagements and conversational interaction are organized higher in the school where more gathering space is provided.
The MSCS ‘school house’ clusters range from 2,4, and 6 classrooms, each dedicated to a shared multipurpose space for interactive learning. With all three size clusters on every level the "school houses" create an absolute versatile learning environment for any given curriculum.
Together the school is a compilation of porous massing allowing all spaces within the school to gain natural daylight and ventilation from at least two walls and maintain a standard that 90 percent of occupiable spaces are no further than 15 feet from natural daylight.
The shell enclosure/roof canopy is a complex and crucial timber and glazed structure, developed for high-performance thermal, acoustical, and symbolic means. The school as an entity is composed of individual "school house" clusters the enveloping roof structure creates a symbolically expressive and unifying identity to the MSCS. Practically the timber and glass canopy creates a self contained micro climate and environmental control for the entire school in which all circulation spaces of the school remain mechanically unconditioned. Each portion of the buildings enclosure plays a distinct role:
North facade: The entire façade remains open to draw in the prevailing south winds during the summer months.
South facade: Creates the formal edge of the building as it spawns from its institutional neighbors. The south facade is in direct service of its solar orientation, where evacuated-tube solar panels hang from the library’s curtain wall system to heat and circulate warm water throughout the building. In contrast to the north façade, the south serves as a barrier to winter prevailing winds which reverse their direction as the seasons change.
East Facade: Although the east and west facades in gesture both compose the unifying woven timber skin of the MSCS they differ greatly in detail. The ventilation/light stacks, slotted between each of the ‘school-house clusters, on the east facade remain enclosed providing sound mitigation from the busy neighboring bridge onramp.
West Facade: The individual ‘school-houses’ on the west facade have the opportunity to completely open onto the city park blocks.
Roof: More-over than providing rain water protection during Portland’s inclement winter months and collection and control for irrigation of interior vegetation, and the gray-water/living machine system, the roof structure is the primary catalyst for heating, cooling, and ventilating the majority of the schools occupied spaces. During the winter the fish scale-like glazing panels create a greenhouse warming affect, storing energy within the buildings mass and extensive vegetation. During the summer months the roof works in co-existence with the open north façade and draws air throughout the building. Between each ‘school-house cluster’, at each ventilation/light shaft the roof canopy is broken creating a vacuum affect from the over-passing prevailing wind and pulls the cool air stored below and within the natural ‘northwest’ eco-scape of the interior courtyards throughout the facility. Further, each break within the roof is used to reflect light deep into the shafts.
Vena Water Collector
Today, an estimated 300,000,000* people are affected by lack of water in Africa alone. By the year 2050 severe water shortages will affect 4 billion people globally**. Current means for providing potable water are inadequate, requiring intense capital infrastructure, are energy intensive, but most of all need a ready source of standing water, whether from rivers and lakes, in reservoirs, or in below ground aquifers. However, there are over 3,100 cubic miles of drinking water in the earth's atmosphere at all times***. The problem is not the lack of available water; rather it is the lack of means to harvest this abundant resource. The ecologically responsible solution is VENA.
A bio-mimetic design, VENA is a low-cost, low-energy solution for the developing world's increasingly critical need for a dependable source of potable drinking water. VENA extracts cooler temperatures found below ground to condense and collect latent air-borne water found in even the driest climates. Delivering clean drinking water to the populations of the world living in arid and/or heavily polluted areas, VENA is a radical solution for people in climates lacking consistent rainfall or clean ground source water.
Like the desert cacti, VENA has the ability to capture water vapor prior to cloud formation. A cactus survives in areas with almost no annual rainfall by using internal water stores to cool its surface below air temperature and using its needles to collect condensing water. Revolutionary in its design application, VENA follows this example.
In general, the warmer the air the more water it can carry. For example, at 30 degrees Celsius with a relative humidity of 60%, a cubic meter of air contains approximately 18 grams of water.* The angled copper filaments can be cooled 5-15 degrees (C). As the temperature of the air drops in contact with the filaments, an estimated average 35% of air-borne water will condense to the cooled filaments; drip down the central copper alloy cable, and into the well.
From its conception VENA was envisioned to be a reliable, durable and maintenance–free means for attaining potable water, a concept that separates it from predecessors that aim to collect water from the air. To achieve this, VENA’s assembly is free of moving or complex mechanical parts and requires only the initial energy consumption to manufacture its components. Once in place, the laws of thermodynamics and gravity enable the components to serve their purpose.
In construction, Vena is comprised of dynamically formed robust ceramic discs that serve double duty: protecting the internal systems from excessive heat gain and evaporation caused by solar exposure, as well as channeling prevailing winds through the conical body. The copper alloy cable, the key thermal conductor, stretches from a below grade well along the entire height of the above-ground structure. The chilled copper alloy cable “unravels” into a network of densely arranged needle-like filaments. These needles penetrate through perforations in the stainless steel structure exposing chilled surface area for vapor condensation. The ceramic enclosure base further acts as a collecting funnel for the condensed water to travel into the well to be stored for later use.
Because VENA is small-scale, the modular design allows potable water to be delivered directly to localized areas of need, thus eliminating the need for conveyance infrastructure. Furthermore, VENA is openly scalable, allowing the number and placement of VENA units to address the size, location, and need of the community.
* world water rescue organization http://www.wwrf.org
***US Geological Survey Water Storage in the Atmosphere June 2005
PROJECT INVOLVEMENT. DESIGN (THEORETICAL PROJECT)
UNIT SIZE. 0.4m x 3-9m
PROJECT COST. EST. $5,000/UNIT
COMPETITION. METROPOLIS MAGAZINE: NEXT GENERATION ‘08
SPONSORS. SHWERWIN-WILLIAMS, DURAVIT, GEBERIT, HERMAN MILLER, MAHARAM
DESIGN. ORE DESIGN + TECHNOLOGY
PROJECT TEAM. TYSON GILLARD, THOMAS KOSBAU
The speculative notion of the existence of a hotel off the shore in the tropical sea of Singapore is a grand one. Envisioned as the most luxurious and exuberant accommodation the world might ever know, the Offshore Hotel is designed to fulfill the wildest imaginations of what a über-grandiose architectural destination might be. Secondly, the academic creation of the Offshore Hotel was utilized to explore what the super-structure of such a place might be, and how structure might be used to a designers keen advantage to achieve this grandeur or even aura.
In the end, what manifested was the design of ‘Hotel Orchid’; a floating, aquatic super-structure exclusively located 5 km off the shore of Singapore composed of steel, glass, and native hardwood with an organic DNA more akin to flora than conventional building infrastructure or know-how. Like pedals floating on water the hotel is primarily composed of three nearly identical leaves that branch out 225m from the Orchid’s seductive central entrance and gathering decks. In practical terms, the undulating form allows for maximum utilization of perimeter real-estate, providing all 400+ (each up to 500 m2) guest suites to be directly connected to the warm tropical waters. With the periphery primarily consumed by private space, the interior of each ‘pedal’ is in- turn the public domain, a series of three vibrant civic piazzas.
With energy requirements not forgotten, the organic form is further the consequence of bio-mimetic design. The overall high-proportion low-slop perimeter roof allows for the flat mounting position of photovoltaic arrays, necessary to optimally harvest the equatorial solar energy, offsetting the entire hotels electric needs. As the multi-directional prevailing winds constantly roll over the hotel, the pv arrays are moreover strategically used to collect and direct the off-shore breezes into the hotels public piazzas, which is then released at higher openings within the courtyards oversized ‘gitterschales’ (mesh-shell roof structures), all of which making conditioning of the public spaces unnecessary.
Modular Algae Bioreactors
“It's the equivalent of striking oil” -Professor Tasios Melis, University of Berkeley
Hydrogen has long been viewed as a fuel source that could be the answer to a carbon-emission free future. Unfortunately, hydrogen en mass was not, until now, a naturally created element on our planet. In the past, huge amounts of energy, the majority coming from coal, fossil fuel burning power plants, and nuclear energy, needed to be invested in electrolysis or reprocessing natural gas in order to create hydrogen to use as fuel. This was done in industrial plants. The hydrogen would have to be transported via diesel engine ships railway, or heavy diesel engine trucks to where it would be used as a “clean fuel.” Creating hydrogen through conventional means was obviously not the answer.
Seven years ago scientists in Berkeley, California and Golden Colorado’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory made the surprising discovery that the world’s most common plant-matter contains an enzyme that naturally produces hydrogen through photosynthesis. Green Algae, more specifically, Chlamydamonas Reinhardtii, when removed from an oxygen rich environment and starved of sulfur switches from producing carbon-dioxide to pure hydrogen.
Research has continued making green algae 100,000 times more efficient in producing hydrogen than it was in 1999. Truncated chlorophyll antennae and genetic modification to C. Reinhardtii’s hydrogenase enzyme will soon lead to another increase in efficiency, resulting in commercial profitability.
As this new technology’s dawn approaches, it is important to design ways to capitalize on its immediate benefits. ORE Design + Technology see’s this not simply as a revolution in ecological fuel sources, but as a revolution in the structure of our fuel supply system. When fuel is no longer an ecologically harmful process to create, it no longer needs to be produced in remote locations that cause further pollution and energy expenditure in transportation.
The Modular Algae Bioreactor design brings energy production to the consumer. ORE Design + Technology developed a model of unitized 1 meter x 2 meter x .15 meter panels of hydrogen producing algae to be placed in an urban environment such as today’s photovoltaics. These green panels do more than photovoltaics, however, and are not as energy intensive to create. They don’t carry dangerous heavy metals, nor are they dependant on direct solar exposure - making them optimal on any façade or surface within any climate environment. With expected algae efficiencies our calculations show that for residential application the hydrogen producing skin would need to cover roughly fifty-five percent of the external facades for complete energy independence. The flexibility of the system will only improve as researchers continuing to make exponential progresses in efficiency.
The farmed hydrogen is converted to energy onsite in a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) fuel cell providing as it’s name suggests heat and power, but also pure drinking water. Buildings now taken completely off the grid begin to function as plants in nature. They create their own energy through photosynthesis, which courses through their circulatory systems like xylem and phloem. Collected hydrogen flows inwards from leaves to core; power, heat and water branch outwards.
The true revolution is the bioreactors is they give back more than they take. They create fresh water and reduce carbon emissions, a feat no other alternate-energy technologies can claim. Two key strengths C. Reinhardtii exhibits are an exponential growth rate and natural hardiness. These allow for limitless algae cultures to be quickly created and replenished once they are starved of oxygen and sulfur, thus making it biologically feasible to farm hydrogen in urban environments. A dynamic affect of this cyclical process is the alternating shades of deep, translucent chlorophyllic green that create a playful and beautiful mosaic integral to the built environment.
PROJECT INVOLVEMENT. DESIGN (THEORETICAL PROJECT)
MODULE SIZE. 2m x1m
DEVELOPMENT COST. EST. $1,000,000
DESIGN. ORE DESIGN + TECHNOLOGY
PROJECT TEAM. TYSON GILLARD, THOMAS KOSBAU, JOSHUA CHANG
Chiefly put on by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in 2003, ‘An Energy Revolution” was an open design competition based on a 2.2 hectare brownfield site on the edge of Manchester's city centre. The objective for competitors was to design a mixed-use scheme which is sustainable in its use of energy, urban in character and which promotes co-operative lifestyles.
Sponsored and organized by INREB Faraday Partnership (Integrating New and Renewable Energy into Buildings) and URBED (the Urban & Economic Development Group) with the support of CIS (Co-operative Insurance Society), the competition formed part of a program of work designed to assist the construction industry in responding to ever present challenge of climate change. The main aim of the competition was to explore how the radical agenda set out by the latest Government Energy White Paper 'our energy future - creating a low carbon economy' which featured a mandate for the United Kingdom to lower carbon emissions by 60% by 2050, and how it could be applied to a mixed-use urban scheme.
The revolution of ‘Photosynthetic City’ is the harvesting of a common green algae (as described for ‘Modular Algae Biorectors’, see previous page), in an aqueous solution to produce fuel for the entire communities energy needs. The fuel produced is pure Hydrogen gas, which is harvested and run directly, or compressed, to run Combined Heat and Power fuel cells within the building's core. Both the power generated and the heat caused as byproduct is then circulated throughout the residential, commercial and light industrial areas of the community. In regards purely to residential infrastructure, assuming each unit is roughly 200 square meters, the aqueous solution would only need to cover 55% of the exterior envelope, a 15 centimeter thick second skin, for full energy self-sufficiency.
Unlike any other alternate energy technology, the ‘algae community’ is not only net-zero in carbon emissions, but perhaps more importantly like any healthy ecosystem actually reduces existing carbon pollutants within the air. Further, unlike photovultaics which rely on direct solar exposure for optimal performance, algae is most productive with indirect sun light making it the perfect technology for consumers in northern latitudes such as Manchester with more-often-than-not inclement weather.
Photosynthetic City combines power production with livability, energy consumption with education, agricultural and green spaces with urban densification, commercially viable real estate with civic activities, and automotive traffic with pedestrian needs; in total to create a fully functional, self-sufficient community and ecosystem.
In regards to actual urban composition, each rather small block is cellular or more oval in plan, which when combined draw greater emphasis to the intersection as each blocks corners round, opening up. Rather than simply being treated as cross-roads, each intersection becomes a nexus of vibrant commercial activity. Contained within the ‘plinth’ of each block, commercial and light industrial activities are able to take place. From the street level continuous green spaces rise onto each plinth, inter-connected, creating a fully accessible urban agriculture and park-scape. Above and below, the civic realm is given priority, the foundation of any strong community. Public spaces unravel at every corner and meander throughout the site, both horizontally and vertically (necessary to achieve metropolitan density).
More private residential towers rise from the block plinths like any other photosynthetic organism, oriented and configured for optimal solar exposure. Each level, or leaf, splays out in upward progression assuring no level overshadows another, and each inhabitant can assume their garden’s full agricultural potential. Dually, each residential tower is favorably spaced within the ‘city’ as not to overshadow another tower during main daylight hours.
PROJECT INVOLVEMENT. DESIGN (THEORETICAL PROJECT)
COMPETITION. AN ENERGY REVOLUTION: SOLUTIONS FOR SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES