Conceptual Design: Building Context & Passive Design - Edward

Journal Entry For
Module 4 - Conceptual Design - Building Context & Passive Design
Jan 22, 2022 4:36 AM
Last Edited
Jan 25, 2022 7:21 PM
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Your Name
Edward Chen

Building Site & Context Features

I chose the area to the north of the Stanford Dish as my project site. Here is a picture of the site from Google Earth, looking down from the Dish.


This is a hilly area that slopes toward northeast and has a great view of the inner Bay Area. While the exact location of the project is not set, the building will likely sit on the slope, facing the Bay in order to capture the view of the Stanford campus and the Bay.

The site also has a lot of natural vegetation. The project will aim to preserve most of the natural vegetated area onsite, part of which will be designed for accessible outdoor space for visitors, and to introduce native vegetation on and within the building as well.

The building design will take into account the natural slope of the site and create an interactive, “blended-in-nature” feel, with part of the building extended out the slope and another part concealed underground.

Conceptual Model 2
Conceptual Model 2

Building Massing

I tested several different shapes of the building to see how well they might interact with the site while meeting the design goals. The conceptual designs have little to no curvature, but in future designs I intend to add more curved forms.

The image above shows a box design with slanted walls and widened roof. I initially began with a simple rectangular box design, as shown below.

Conceptual Model 1
Conceptual Model 1

Energy analysis of this box design shows that the roof has the largest solar potential, and the southern envelope incur the most cooling loads. I therefore ended up with the slanted design to 1) increase solar PV potential of the building, and 2) provide shading for the southern envelope. As discussed below, these strategies enhanced the building’s performance.

Two other options I explored were a two-wing design and an arc design.

Conceptual Model 3
Conceptual Model 3
Conceptual Model 4
Conceptual Model 4

These designs all satisfy the floor area requirement.

I then compared the performance of these design options via Insight. Unsurprisingly, the slanted design performed the best under the same assumptions regarding the building systems (envelope, lighting, plug loads, HVAC, PV, etc.) and met the Architecture 2030 target. It further showed the possibility of becoming a net-zero, even energy-positive, project.


Building Orientation

I designed the building to face north to northeast. There are several reasons.

  1. Natural slope: the hill slopes toward northeast.
  2. View opportunities: the north and east sides of the project site provide open view to Stanford campus and the inner Bay Area.
  3. Maximize daylighting: the north and east windows can provide pleasant natural light, but south and west windows may let in too much direct sunlight and incur high cooling loads.
  4. Natural ventilation: the prevailing wind of the site is from the northeast.