In reading Energetic Organizations and reviewing the lessons of the Final Lecture I developed a sense of the city and the various flows and connections present at various scales that relate to variables such as energy, the exchange of materials, information travel, human use of energy, and urban/global networks.  I took the presented ideas in the Lunch essay and tried to diagram the characteristics of the Ecological/Web city in simple ways to show these various scales of local, urban, global, and body.

In this series of diagrams I wanted to show the trend towards what were described as “local, dense lateral connections as well as the global concentrated networks” by defining these connections from the smallest scale to the largest scale.  There are at first the local, more personal and intimate relations between individuals, which then translate into those between groups of individuals, or cities, which furthermore translate into the global networks of information, energy, and material exchange and travel that can be seen in the final diagram.  This overall diagram was created to show these separate levels as well as how they come together in the bigger picture.

In addition, this diagram I created is demonstration the concept of the ever-changing directions and methods of the flow of energy.  While ambiguous about scale, it starts to take on the idea of the “flow of energy [that] shifts from a directional stream into a field of intense, dynamic, lateral connections.”  With this in mind, the diagram transcends literal scale and becomes a way to show how cities have been changing and how they will continue to evolve from more linear, singular forms to networks of interconnections at every level of life, with dynamics becoming more and more evident.

A quick palimpsest study of the urban system on three differing levels


In my studio project I chose to focus on cross-building ventilation, the heating of the front facade, and how the angles of the sun over the seasons affects these two concepts.  The wind roses allowed me to study how the wind might flow in and around my site, which plays into how I might ventilate the structure.  In addition, the stereographic solar chart placed on my site plan allowed me to determine the altitude and azimuth of the sun on a summer day, a summer night, and a winter day, which plays into the heating of the spaces on the building’s front facade.

systems section full diagram

systems reading room diagrams

philly map with solar chart overlay

philly map with wind rose july overlay

philly map with wind rose january overlay

As this will be my last blog post, I’d like to reflect on what I have learned about systems, sites, and building over this past semester.  When I came to the first class I wasn’t ready for what was in store.  All of a sudden the room was in complete silence and darkness, and we were being told to become conscious of our breathing, of our surroundings, and of the little things we normally overlook.  Looking back, that exercise set the tone for the rest of the semester, a semester in which I came to notice and understand the numerous systems at work in my environment.  When walking through my own house, Campbell Hall, and any other building I frequent I have now become aware of things like ventilation, natural lighting, and climate.  I can recognize the complex systems at work in my everyday life, similar to the workings of the web of stocks, flows, and feedback loops in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Most of all, I have come to think about my studio work in terms of integrating the use of light, ventilation, temperature, and the like, which has helped this semester in 301, but will further impact my work for the rest of my time here at the University and throughout my long career (hopefully) as an architect.  Instead of designing first and fitting these factors in later, I can now put the two together, and use what I have learned this semester through the entire design process, from diagrams to finished models.

After learning about different innovative ways to naturally ventilate buildings, I found this project at Tulane University very interesting.  Instead of designing a new building to replace their boxy, compartmentalized, and systems-deficient student union, they remodeled it to enhance natural ventilation and the use of sunlight within the building.  The most used student spaces, like the eating areas and study spaces, were put on the perimeter of the buildings interior space so as to maximize the natural light that could permeate these spaces.  Even the decorative water walls that appear throughout the building have a practical function.  Small screens above these walls swing back and forth, cooling the surrounding air with the water vapor created.

As quoted from (, “the three-story, 151,000-square-foot building incorporates eco-friendly passive heating and cooling, green walls, rain gardens and loads of natural light.”

Along with the renovated building systems, the architects of this project used the existing building structure rather than creating a new one, saving an enormous amount of energy that would have gone into its construction.

Over this semester, as I gained an increasing knowledge of systems and how they work in relation to architecture, I started thinking about my own living space and how this knowledge might be applied.  In my room alone I have several heating and cooling methods: air conditioning, a celing fan, windows, and a radiator.  These four variables all contribute to how my personal space feels throughout the day and night.  However, not all of these factors work together in harmony, as I came to discover the other night.

As I got back to my house after a long drive from my home in Rhode Isalnd to my second home here in Charlottesville, I noticed that the heat was set unusually high.  When I got to my room, I found myself in a systems-induced state of shock.  Not only was the radiator blasting extreme heat into every corner of the room, but the air conditioner was set at a cool 68 degrees, the celing fan was whirring, and two of the three windows were wide open.  The room itself was at an overall decent temperature, but I couldn’t help but think of all the energy being wasted in this one room, let alone the entire house.  Our house’s system of climate control had been upset by an unexpected and unexplained tweak in the thermostat that, in turn, forced us to use even more energy to cool it back down to normal room temperature.

In class we talked briefly aabout James Turrell’s extensive use of light not only as a compliment to his architectural projects, but as the main medium with which he works.  Turrell manipulates artificial and natural light in ways that seem surreal at times.  In his skyscape projects, he creates tall rooms or spaces with seating around the perimeter and a carefully designed aperture in the roof to allow a sort of seamless window to the sky, making the viewer aware of the sky above, not as if looking through a window, but as if it were a moving painting on the celing.

I found the skyscape projects and other James Turrell works intriguing because of their innovative use of light as a medium.  Instead of designing his structure with light in mind, Turrell designs his light with structure in mind.  One specific project I found interesting was his Diving the Light building at Pomona College, his alma-mater.  This building is an open-air, single floor structure with benches around its edges, a rectangular aperture in the roof, and a reflecting pool beneath that aperture.    In addition to using natural light in this way, Turrell also makes use of artificial, colored lights throughout the structure to react to the colors in the sunrise and sunset each day.  During these times, there is a type of colored light show that reacts to the sky’s changes in color.  Similar in design to his skyscape projects, Diving the Light is placed in Pomona College as a space for meeting or gathering at any time of the day or night.  It allows students to stop and experience the framed view of the sky in a way that we normally do not see the sky.

Dividing the Light - night

Dividing the Light - evening

In class today we learned about creating and manipulating shade through solar studies and various types and techniques of shading.  We talked about the differences in radiation exposure over the seasons on horizontal, north, south, and east/west facing surfaces and how this information can be used to develop roof shapes or shading areas to efficiently control light and shade, heating and cooling.  I especially enjoyed the diagrams showing different popular styles of windows and overhangs and how each is effective or ineffective in creating shade and controlling light.

In designing the bus stop/bike share hub project, these types of shading techniques directly apply.  In such a small project with a program based around people gathering and standing at the bus stop in all kinds of weather and at all times of the year, creating shade and manipulating sunlight will play a big part in determining what is or is not an effective design.  With regards to my project, I may look at the roof structure on one of the projects Professor Sherman showed us and mimic it on my bus stop/bike share hub, giving a longer overhang on the southwestern side and a shorter overhang on the northeastern side to account for the angle of the sun over time.