Gail Brager, Professor

Open (1) Experiential Delight in Buildings: improving indoor environmental quality for health & wellbeing (2 projects)

Open. Apprentices needed for the fall semester. Please do NOT contact faculty before September 11th (the start of the 4th week of classes)! Enter your application on the web beginning August 16th. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, August 29th at 8 AM.

There is a significant transition underway in buildings to focus on the wellbeing of occupants by providing a healthier indoor environment –fresh air and high ventilation effectiveness, excellent thermal, visual and acoustic comfort, plentiful views and connection to nature. Yet, too often these attributes of building performance are given a lower priority and instead we create experiential monotony – conditions that are uniform over all space, static over time, bland and neutral. The irony is that it’s very energy consuming to create such environments. A better goal – and one that is fundamental to sustainable design - would be to create passive, climate-responsive, biophilic buildings that use less energy and provide more connection to the natural elements of the outdoor environment.

This research is about exploring the intersection between architectural and experiential design patterns. There are 2 separate but related tasks, and I am looking for 2 students who would each focus on one of these, but come together at several points during the semester to compare notes and see how each one’s efforts might inform the other. For both these tasks, I will help get things started with an outline or matrix of the kind of patterns we are seeking

1. Experiential design patterns. This task focuses on human response, and is about documenting the scientific basis for the benefits of creating multi-sensory indoor environments that fundamentally begins with the desire to create a rich human experience of variability. There is a wealth of literature out there, but it is scattered across different disciplines and written for different audiences (architecture, engineering, psychology, health sciences, etc.). The goal of this tasks is to gather and document this research, finding links between architectural strategies and human experience, and finding evidence for the physiological, psychological, and cognitive benefits.

2. Architectural design patterns. This task focuses on architectural examples for creating such multi-sensory experiences. Instead of general, whole-building case studies (although one can start with these), the goal of this task is to gather and document examples of experientially rich architectural elements (e.g., windowseats, courtyards, inglenooks, etc.)

Tasks: As noted, 2 students will be recruited for this project. The research will involve literature review with citations maintained in Zotero, along with developing keywords, annotation and thematic categories. As appropriate to each task, the document will include writing short narrations to summarize main ideas, and creating a visual library. Much of this work can be done remotely or outside of normal business hours, so it’s ideal for students who need flexibility in their schedule.

Qualifications: Qualifications: Demonstrated experience with literature review and Zotero (or similar) reference management software. Students need to be very organized, self-motivated, detail-oriented, a good writer, and work well independently. For task 1 – some experience or demonstrated interested in human response; also, excellent English skills required since a lot of reading is involved. For task 2 – architectural background at some level. Weekly hours: Negotiable, perhaps 6-12 hr.

Weekly Hours: to be negotiated