AA SED Introduction

Sustainable Environmental Design (SED) engages with real-life problems that affect buildings and cities across the world. Design research for the AA SED Masters programme is driven by evidence-based performance criteria following a process of adaptive architecturing, that proceeds from inside to outside, attuning built form and its constituents to natural rhythms and inhabitant activities. Key objectives of all AA SED projects are: to improve environmental quality in cities, achieve independence from non-renewable energy sources and to develop an environmentally sustainable architecture that is capable of adapting to changing climates and urban environments.

The taught programme is structured in two consecutive phases. Phase I is organised around team projects that combine MSc and MArch students on experimental and analytical testing of the design principles and computational tools introduced by weekly lectures and workshops. In Phase II, MSc and MArch design research develops independently following individual research agendas that reflect students’ home contexts, climates and building typologies. MSc candidates complete the 12-month course with a design research project that documents the architectural potential and applicability of their chosen topic in its geographic and climatic context. The MArch cycle extends over a 16-month period that culminates in a specific design application for a given site and design brief.

In Terms 1 and 2, Refurbishing the City, a collective SED research agenda, will start a new chapter of collaborative design research with architectural and engineering practices. This involves environmental performance studies of selected London buildings followed by design research based on the findings of these studies. In Terms 3 and 4, MSc and MArch students embark on individual dissertation projects that extend into many other cities and climatic regions. SED MSc and MArch dissertation projects address both cold and warm climates, exploring passive environmental features, indoor and outdoor living and occupant-centred adaptive strategies encompassing home, work, learning and mixed-use environments. The videos at the beginning and end of this Introduction give some idea of the experience of attending the programme and returning to practice following successful completion. For information on the taught programme and student work see the sections on Team Projects and Dissertations or contact: Simos Yannas simos@aaschool.ac.uk

Still possible to apply for the 2018-19 cycle starting end September 2018. For information on application procedures and answers to frequently asked questions click here 
To follow-up on applications to the AA SED MSc or MArch options contact: Kirstie Little SED Admissions Coordinator Kirstie.Little@aaschool.ac.uk

Lecture Courses & Workshops

Sustainable City  Term 1 This course reviews theories of urban sustainability and introduces the instruments and tools applied to its assessment. The effects that urban morphology can have on microclimate, energy consumption and climate change are illustrated with case studies of new and refurbished schemes in different urban contexts with scales ranging from the regional to that of the urban block.

Adaptive Architecturing  Term 1 Providing local solutions to global issues requires an understanding of what makes a good environment for its occupant and how this varies across climates, building types and individual preferences. How does architecture contribute to this and can it reclaim its historical role as a tool of sustainable environmental design? This course introduces a generative framework for an adaptive, culturally sensitive occupant-centred architecture aiming for a symbiotic relationship with the city.

Environmental Simulation & Performance Assessment Tools  Terms 1 & 2 This hands-on course runs in day-long weekly sessions that follow step-by-step the weekly tasks of the Term 1 and 2 team projects introducing the analytical procedures and computational tools that drive the SED research methodology. The course begins by introducing fieldwork techniques starting with indoor and outdoor visual observations and scientific measurements, followed by diagnostic interpretation, computer modelling of selected spaces, calibration of models with measurements, simulations of solar, thermal, airflow and daylighting processes, and assessment of results against targets and benchmarks. Completion of this process initiates the application of modelling and simulation to inform design and assess the environmental merits of rchitecture practice. A range of computational tools will be introduced over Terms 1 and 2. Their application will be explored initially through the team projects thus providing the essential expertise that is required for undertaking the MSc and MArch dissertation research in Terms 3 and 4.

Environmental Design Primer  Terms 1 & 2 This course introduces key areas of sustainable environmental design research and practice as these relate to architecture and urban design. Topics include urban climatology and the theories of environmental comfort; the physics and architecture of natural light, airflow and thermal processes; the ecology and environmental performance of materials; renewable energy technologies in the urban environment; and the science and art of measurement and performance assessment.

Lessons from Practice  Term 2 This course involves a number of architects, engineers and researchers invited to present recent projects that illustrate their philosophy practice and experience of sustainable environmental design. Individual presentations are followed by roundtable sessions providing a platform for discussing specific issues as well as the relationship between research and practice. The course includes building visits and study trips in the UK and abroad.

Research Seminar  Terms 1–4 In Terms 1 and 2 the seminar provides a regular forum for discussing the literature research and critical reading expected in support of the two individual research papers that will act as the foundations for dissertation projects undertaken in Terms 3 and 4. During the latter the seminar complements the weekly individual tutorials providing specific support on the contents and production of the dissertation.

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