Designed Porous Media

This seminar is about designing porous surfaces and materials to orchestrate the flow of heat through buildings in novel ways. The primary aim is to inspire interest in the phenomenology of heat and the possibilities of \’doing architecture\’ at the material scale. Ideas and design methods from materials engineering and the thermal sciences (thermodynamics, heat transfer and fluid dynamics) will be introduced, with a focus on design-led learning through practical application and experiment.

Students will organize themselves into small groups and will be evaluated on the basis of a semester-long design project. After being introduced to each and nominating a preference, groups will be assigned one of the following project briefs:
· Cellular Elements. Develop and test a system of hollow-core construction elements whose cellular cavities are optimized to control convection heat transfer in a given climate.
· Breathing Wall. Develop and test a 3D printed porous wall element that recaptures outgoing heat when external air is sucked through it.
· Thermo-active surface. Develop and test a porous heat exchanger surface for cooling or heating a space, made from a folded composite of metal and polymer, and ’activated’ by small diameter water tubing.
· Dew-harvesting canopy. Develop and test a surface array of funneling pores, optimized to maximize the yield of dew or cold air in a given climate.

Each project comes with its own tailored set of analytical and experimental tools, methods and techniques. The focus will be on building, testing and evaluating a thermal prototype, and comparing the measured results with the theoretical predictions. Groups will be required to update their peers regularly with progress and findings. The idea is to promote an inquisitive, collaborative environment for design-led learning and, in turn, science-led design.