Adaptive Architecture explores the environmental diversity stemming from the combination of visual and thermal perception of light through an innovative digital design and analysis process developed by Demers [1993-2007]. Building on previous theoretical transitional typologies defined by Potvin , the research-creation program will first identify and analyze real transitional structures favoring adaptive opportunities such as minimalist vernacular architecture in order to help feed the speculative design process in a full-scale adaptable mock-up. Adaptable Architecture will explore the potential to expand the notion of comfort and delight (pleasantness) in an outdoor semi-protected and modifiable structure that will consist of a refuge. The research creation project proposes to design, build, occupy and evaluate a simple but yet highly modifiable refuge, a semi-protected structure that will allow parametric analysis of several typologies of spatial transformations according to diurnal and seasonal climate diversity. The notion of adaptability will be studied qualitatively and quantitatively in relation to the notion of environmental delight first introduced by Heschong  throughout the architectural design process. The design and occupation of this Adaptive Architecture will enable explorations of adaptive opportunities in real time in an outdoor space, at human scale.
Claude MH Demers + André Potvin
Context of Implementation
Adaptable Architecture will explore the potential to expand the notion of comfort and delight (pleasantness) in an outdoor semi-protected and modifiable structure that will consist of a refuge. The research creation project proposes to design, build, occupy and evaluate a simple but yet highly modifiable refuge, a semi-protected structure that will allow parametric analysis of several typologies of spatial transformations according to diurnal and seasonal climate diversity. The notion of adaptability will be studied qualitatively and quantitatively in relation to the notion of environmental delight first introduced by Heschong  throughout the architectural design process. The design and occupation of this Adaptive Architecture will enable explorations of adaptive opportunities in real time in an outdoor space, at human scale. It will emerge from the study of architectural precedents such as vernacular architecture, results from Demers’s research-creation grant on Nordic Light in Architecture [Demers, 1999], Potvin’s CALQ research-creation grant on Transitions in Architecture [Potvin, 2002] and a recent FQRSC research-creation grant entitled “The Creative Eye” [Demers, Potvin, 2008]. Such environmental explorations also occurred in recent graduate students’ thesis [Biron, 2008; Bontemps, 2007; Dubois, 2006] supervised by the research team. Those researches have all pointed out to the high complexity of integrating simultaneously the visual and thermal qualities of light in the design process since thermal aspects are scale dependent whereas visual aspects are independent from scale. Adaptive Architecture will enable the full-scale exploration of the combined visual and thermal qualities of light stemming from diurnal and seasonal climatic diversity. An integrated design process demands that a clear representation of the invisible thermal aspect of light be more important in the decision making process, which will be explored using a series of digital media tools such as video and thermal cameras. The adequate representation of design intentions in environmental design should be at the forefront of creative thinking in architecture. Architecture (design and construction) demands an increased complexity of knowledge, especially technical, but this should by no means imply the non-existence of any intuitive inspiration. Images (thermal and visual) will be used at the speculative stage of composition, which remains rather suggestive, and develop at the constructive stage through extensive analysis. These two complementary aspects, will be combined at real scale using a design methodology based on image analysis and tactile manipulations developed by Demers [1993, 1997, 2003, 2007] using digital and analogical (drawings and scale models) techniques. Adaptable Architecture proposes to contribute to the renewal of architecture by using digital media and tools as starting points of the design process to reinvest our experience of space with rich visual and thermal stimuli instead of the current mono functionality derived from the deterministic approach to environmental science.
This research proposes an original mean of assessing visual and thermal ambiences that enables architects to develop a more integrated approach to environmental design, and in some respect encourages them to go beyond the mere quantitative aspects of light. The digital image methodology favours a convivial relation between the architect and light building on the graphically driven intuitive thinking of designers. Although visual representation of light has always been at the centre of the architectural design process and theory, the representation of its thermal properties has seldom been explored during the design process. Recent development in infrared thermal imagery now offers an opportunity to open up the invisible thermal aspect of space to architects.
Results Adaptive Architecture resulted in a dynamic representation of environmental adaptation though several weeks, both visual and thermal. This adaptive history between occupants and the prototype expresses the potential of adaptability to enhance the experience of architecture according to changing environmental conditions. On-line media rendering using high definition images of the visible lighting chiaroscuro and the invisible thermal qualities of radiant and surface temperatures will accompany the seasonal timeline to provide readers a clear dynamic qualitative and quantitative assessment of spatial and environmental qualities of Adaptive Architecture.
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