Integrated Design Project and Studio Boltshauser

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Integrated Design Project and Studio Boltshauser

The Integrated Design Project (IDP) of the Master program in Integrated Building Systems (MBS) combines students of Architecture and Engineering. The aim of this course is to train students in efficiently dealing with challenges of an interdisciplinary collaboration through a lifelike design project. The final goal is to produce solutions that reduce CO2 emissions in the building sector through the effective and early integration of climate and building systems in architectural design.

Each fall semester, the Chair of Architecture and Building Systems (A/S) offers an Integrated Design Project, which allows MBS students to work collaboratively on urban and architectural concepts integrating aspects of energy, sustainability and building technologies. Students get the opportunity to apply the theoretical knowledge gained in previous semesters in a lifelike setting, collaborating in interdisciplinary teams. Climate conditions, context analysis, energy efficiency and renewable energy generation on site are crucial impact factors in the early design stages. The investigation across disciplines and scales forms the basis of the teaching concept. Students employ advanced analysis techniques and software tools to develop and compare scenarios.

On the pedagogical side, the IDP course focuses on teaching and learning activities for functioning knowledge, thus on applying knowledge acquired in previous courses, designing innovative and realistic solutions, solving problems and evaluating proposals. It promotes case-based learning, where students are required to carry out their own solutions and present them to a wide range of audience. Furthermore, we promote lifelong learning, through subjecting the students to real problems that they may face in practice in the future. Working with state of the art tools to increase the value of the student in the working market.

IDP of Autumn 2019

In HS 2019, the IDP collaborated with Studio Boltshauser in a first of its kind event in D-ARCH. It brought students from two different programs (MBS and Architecture) to work together on a common project. The two chairs involved, i.e. Architecture and Building Systems (A/S) and Prof. Boltshauser, worked closely together not only during the critiques and final grading but also on designing the entire program. The goal of this combined course was for students to develop synergies that focus on enhancing the energy performance, reducing CO2 emissions and fostering sustainability for a real building in a village in Morocco. This year, through one of the problems faced while gathering site information, we created a streamlined workflow that translates aerial images to 3D models that the students can use for their analysis. The final goal was to produce an accurate estimation of the context geometry and use it in the architecture studies and energy simulations of the students’ design proposals. This workflow was later published as a conference paper in September 2020, which in turn helps the involved teaching staff gain academic recognition for their teaching work.

By having a real scenario and using state of the art surveying tools to model the actual site geometry, we were able to provide all the necessary information to run successful simulations. This allowed the students to save time on assuming status quo data and instead, focus on analyzing the area, evaluate the simulation results, and understand the impact of changes in input parameters on the results. The advantage of providing additional time to developing concepts, strategies and enhanced scenarios became evident.

Reflection & Transferability

Throughout the semester, we conducted two major surveys. The first took place one month after the semester started, which focused on aspects that require immediate attention. We learned, for example, that effective communication between the two chairs and the information transmitted to the students is imperative, and it should be given sufficient time and planning in advance. The second survey occurred after the conclusion of the semester. It focused on what worked and what did not, interesting and/or confusing aspects of the course, the whole experience, fulfillment from multidisciplinary collaboration, organization, and communication.

Finally, we used an online platform for all communication between teachers and students. It contained discussion forums and FAQ sections, clear learning objectives and their alignment with the assessment, as well as all the necessary materials for the students to complete their tasks.

About the MBS program

The MBS program, introduced in 2014, links the fields of Architecture, Civil, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, and Energy Sciences with the goal of training future interdisciplinary planners to deal with the challenges of reducing CO2 emissions while promoting clean energy sources for the built environment. The focus of the IDP course lies on this interdisciplinary collaboration and integration of sustainable energy concepts and technologies, together with architectural concepts on the building and the urban scales.