Urban Flow Studio

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Kenneth Tracy

Cities are shaped by a multitude of factors from the logistics of transport to issues of privacy to and institutional aesthetics. Architecture tempers and sponsors these influences mostly through drawings and representation of the city through what is visible. This studio will propose changing the way the city feels by manipulating invisible flows in the ambient space between and within buildings. This proposal will leverage new experimental tools to predict airflow and repurpose existing techniques to develop responsive architectural features which can more aggressively modify the energy flows around and within buildings.

This studio pairs our multidisciplinary research team with the studio group to look at new possibilities for actuation and air flow control in the city. Currently our team is looking at new possibilities presented through biomimetic analogous design, soft robotics and passively actuation for controlling airflow at the scale of single architectural component. Architecturally these studies are guided by physiological research which implies that specific patterns of airflow can create more comfort in warm climates with the same amount of movement. In addition to looking at the possibilities related to efficiency we are also interested in the multisensory embodied aesthetic possible with moving, shivering or otherwise moving architecture and the representation of these invisible phenomena.

Tools for our current investigation include software simulation through CFD (using Comsol Autodesk Flow), DIVA energy modeling, Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV), multi-material 3D printing and soft robotics among others. These technologies will be used to create small scale tests as proof-of-concept prototypes for testing and validation. In addition to small scale tests we will create a series of mock-ups to represent and feel the potential experiences possible through this type of invisible architecture.