Being in Cyprus this summer, I was commissioned to renovate the house of my cousin in Emba, Paphos.
You can spot the plot on Google Earth (34°48’19.41″N, 32°25’59.57″E). I have to highlight that the weather gets extremely hot in Cyprus, especially in the summer with daytime temperatures reaching 40 °C. Being on the island during this period you quickly realize that the pace of life gets much slower than any other time of the year. Everybody wears sunglasses, air-conditioning units operate nonstop and between 11:00 ? 16:00 almost nobody (except tourists) walks on the streets. In Cyprus, as in any other place, one designs according to certain weather conditions. Sun is undoubtedly the prevailing environmental parameter and the designer needs to take it seriously into account if he/she wishes to design ?comfortable? spaces.
The above project has sparked some ideas which I would like to discuss here and hopefully start a productive ?dialogue? among people contributing to this blog. This session will discuss digital design tools
When the project started, I tried to perform some basic solar analysis, to understand orientation and shadows. A digital tool that I usually employ for this cause is Google SketchUp as it has a very simple and user friendly interface. To start the solar analysis, I first located the plot in Google Earth and then Georeferenced it in SketchUp where I built a very fast massing model of the existing house.
In this way I was able to get the exact Global Position, North Angle and Terrain in SketchUp. I had to perform some extra work as there is a TimeZone bug which was giving me UTC + 3 instead of UTC +2 for the specific plot resulting in incorrect sunset and sunrise times. This was solved thanks to a plug-in script which actually allowed the change of several other parameters related to location including the Time Zone.
During this process, I started considering the next phase; synthesis. I began investigating the possibility of linking the work-in-progress 3d model to the sun?s motion. I could possibly use the sun to generate a surface of the building or even sculpt the whole envelope of the house. That?s not something new and other people have done similar work and progressed the idea much more. I already know that D. Papadopoulos has written a script in Processing for louvers. I also know that M. Tsigkari has dealt with Sun Paths in GC during the Adaptive Architecture and Computation Master?s and I have also seen a nice work that links environment and form again on processing by V. Tzenu . P. Fereos has also designed a Voronoi shading device for a competition in Cyprus which varies in depth in order to provide adequate shading for the interior of the building.
By googgling the subject, I came across a link which explains how you can build a Sun Path in Generative Components (GC) by exporting specific time-location values from Ecotect. This could actually result in a very interesting design tool if the user manages to figure out how to creatively link the sun path to the form. The result would obviously depend on what the user tries to achieve and what are his/her constraints. We can therefore imagine an outcome that varies accordingly, depending on project requirements and designers creativity.
In my case, and due to time limitations I have only managed to import the values for the specific plot in Cyprus and subsequently have only used the sun path as a real time sun position reference in GC. My future intention is to focus on the east wall which in the new plans covers a zone of bathrooms, WC and a walk-in wardrobe. This utility zone functions as a heat barrier between the exterior and the sleeping-living areas of the house and its outer surface is constrained by the amount and type of light that needs to penetrate it. It is therefore a good opportunity to test the above concept by parametrically linking the Sun Path to the Surface.
The above example has demonstrated a digital workflow for a single quantifiable parameter; the sun?s position and the resulting shadows. Even though, solar analysis was performed at a very basic level, the information obtained (visual and solar data) was enough to initiate the synthetic process of design. The point here is that digital tools as such, produce a large amount of information, faster, accurately and in such format that can be seamlessly transformed into form.
Undoubtedly, architects are presented with a large number of such parameters, observable or underlying, in every project. Some of them are quantifiable some of them are not. Some are by definition more important than others, like for example the structural parameter. Some are further analysed and developed into definitive design decisions, whereas some are just neglected. The question is which of those parameters are miscalculated just because we do not possess the adequate tools or processes to asses them and transform them into creative design decisions?