Zero Energy Residential High-Rise

As urbanization and internal migration to existing cities has been on the increase, residential high-rise typology became the norm in many countries. Although this typology has been used for almost a century, its energy performance has not evolved to a level that matched the environmental concerns. The repetitive approach driven by maximizing profit and relying mostly on machine-based conditioned space, has led to generic and anonymous solutions that can be placed in any given site.

In most cities, high-rise structures have been an important typology for residential buildings.  Their design has primarily been influenced by their structure and code. Environmental factors have not played a critical role in shaping the design of such buildings. As net zero energy buildings and communities are becoming mandated by many countries, the demand on understanding the environmental factors affecting such design is increasing.

Simultaneously, user expectations transcend physical space needs. Comfort, flexibility, energy and carbon performance as well as environmental legacy are all attributes of standard of living and quality of place – in this case: home. 

The studio will investigate developing a zero energy residential high-rise (50-60 story high) building design. It will investigate how site-specific factors will influence the design of such structures where form, function and performance, as they relate to beauty, will be the main drivers.  Students will engage in the development of the structure, exploring issues that are not fully considered in typical practice.

To better understand the influence of site and environmental conditions, the focus will be on two climate conditions typical of China and the Mideast, and two separate sites, Shenzhen and Dubai. Workshops related to environment issues, structures, and building envelope will help guide students’ concepts and ideas. A site visit to the two locations will provide a better understanding of the specific issues for the design of the structure. The site visits are sponsored by the Harvard Center for Green Building and Cities.