<strong>Formfindings in environmentally sustainable architecture</strong>

  • Petersen, Mads Dines (Project Participant)
  • Knudstrup, Mary-Ann (Project Manager)

Project Details


Working with architecture today is becoming more and more complex. Discussions about environmental sustainability are affecting the requirements for building performance and the emergence of digital tools challenges the way we perceive architecture as well as the possibilities architects have during the design process.

Many offices today use the term sustainable architecture to describe their work, but very often this is words without content, meaning that there are intentions in what they say, but very often the necessary knowledge about how to approach the topic is missing [Petersen, 2008]. What is important to realize in relation to environmentally sustainable architecture is the variety of approaches the term covers, ranging from a natural image as is mostly seen in cases like Friland over the cultural image most often seen in relation with vernacular architecture to the high tech image as seen in relation with for example high rise buildings [Bennets et al, 2003]. The different approaches seen here derive from the very broad basis on which the different directions are based [Steele, 2005]. Today the focus is mostly on the energy consumption of the building during the operation of the building reducing the understanding of environmental sustainability to an instrumental term.

As mentioned the term sustainable architecture is understood in different ways - the most common in Denmark today, being single family houses and projects like Friland as mentioned above, but an environmental approach has been used in relation to other typologies - a scale that is also mentioned by Ken Yeang [Yeang, 1999], but more importantly he stresses the importance of looking at larger scale typologies in cities like skyscrapers, because the development today is moving towards a more urbanized world, making it important to focus on the development here as well. On an international scale the understanding becomes broader and high profile projects like Commerz Bank in Frankfurt (Foster + Partners, 1997), GLA in London (Foster + Partners, 2002) and Southern Cross Station in Melbourne (Grimshaw Architects, 2007) are all examples of architecture, where the limits of the environmental performance have been pushed. Furthermore these projects have all been instrumental in incorporating new approaches to the design process, where interdisciplinary teams as well as digital modelling tools have been used in analysing the performance of the buildings.

Involving the different professions in the design process has made it possible for them to inform the process in different ways. Furthermore the aims set up in the beginning of the design process can be pursued as the design progresses, making evaluations of how it performs. This means that informed decisions can be made [Knudstrup, 2004]. Another important thing in relation to this process is, as mentioned, the implementation of digital tools as a way of informing the process. Here simulations of the building performance play a major role [Whitehead, 2003], which is especially important in complex projects like the ones mentioned here, where simulations of the environmental performance can be used.

Furthermore the involvement of digital models in this discussion opens for a discussion about how methods used in digital formfindings can be used in the design process, where different parameters concerning environmentally sustainable parameters are implemented. Within digital architecture today there are different directions, and the focus will in relation to this be directions where different parameters influence the design [Lynn, 1999]. This is also interesting in relation to the increased use of digital models in the design process, where they are used to study formal characters of the building, and very often the formfinding process becomes an end in it self. Introducing these real physical parameters in this process aims at creating a bridge between a digital formfinding process, and a design process.

Effective start/end date01/10/200830/09/2011


  • <ingen navn>


  • Architecture, Sustainability, Form-findings, Digital tools


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  • 102nd ACSA Annual Meeting

    Mads Dines Petersen (Participant)

    10 Apr 201412 Apr 2014

    Activity: Attending an eventConference organisation or participation