The Light Gills Lab
- Ivan Dimchev Cholakov
This is a student’s project, done during master studies of energy efficient architectural design at a German University 2016. The task was to develop an extension of the university’s workshop on top of an existing secondary building in the tightly built campus. It contains laboratories and workshops for 3D- manufacturing and modeling, student’s working spaces and presentation areas.
This biomorphic shape is not inspired by a single given natural phenomenon. It goes further by presenting an amalgam of various unique features that are present in the surrounding flora and fauna. However, it doesn`t just take away from the nature. It also contributes back to it, by presenting a sustainable and energy efficient building design.
The composed timber vault`s geometry is not just an aim for a spectacular form. It presents an effective solution to an actual functional building issue by implementing passive measures for reducing the cooling and the lighting energy demand. It creates an equilibrium between two factors, which exclude each other: the demand for diffuse natural light on one hand and the prevention of direct sunlight on the other. The direct sunshine is not only causing overheating in the summer, which increases the cooling energy consumption. It is also inappropriate and distractive for any educational spaces, working studios and ateliers.
For the achievement of this delicate balance, some concepts and adaptive features from the living nature are borrowed. The variably sized slits mimic fish gills. As they reach out from the building volume, it`s not water flow, that they let through, but another essential for the functioning of the system element- daylight. The openings are placed all over the surface to increase the light intake and they build a Fibonacci-spiral-like structure. This universal proportion is present all among the living species. Some plants like romanesco broccoli and sunflowers remarkably represent it as a pattern of organization of their elements.
The pine cones also ascribe to the same principle of structural organization. They form a spiraled spatial system, which is in kinetic accordance to the environmental forces. They remain compactly closed in the cold months to protect and nurture their seeds. Under the external influence of drought and warmth, they open up, so the seeds get spread in the appropriate climatic conditions.
Analogically adaptive to the environmental influence is the building structure. It remains closed for the direct sunshine so it protects its inner processes. Its openings are oriented to the more favorable direction to grasp essential diffuse daylight.
A further natural feature, that the architecture embraces, is the alignment of the shape to the golden ratio, which is also proven to be the universal aesthetic guideline for formally harmonious beauty. The curve of the vault in cross section is subordinated to this proportion.
The optimal size of the openings is calculated by a parametric optimization function in order to satisfy the controversial requirements. The amount of solar radiation on the working area floor is simulated as [h/day] and [h/year], considering the location-specific climatic conditions, surrounding objects and orientation.