Ecophysialogical Architecture- Travis Lydon, RPI

Travis Lydon, RPI SOM CASE

STUDENT: Travis Lydon
SCHOOL: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in collaboration with S.O.M.
CLASS: 3rd Year Studio
PROFESSORS: Ted Ngai, Richard Sarrach
PROGRAMS USED: 3D Studio Max, Maya, Rhino, Grasshopper, V-Ray, Mental Ray, Maxwell Rendering                  

F+: Here’s a pretty sweet project from Travis Lydon from RPI.  Done during a semester at RPI’s CASE studio (Center for Architecture Science & Ecology), a joint effort between RPI and SOM.  Their mission, from the CASE website  “is addressing the need for accelerated innovation of radically new sustainable built environments through the development of next-generation building systems.” This particular project is an adaptation of a solar chimney into a facade skin system for ventilation and temperature control.

The project focuses on a re-creation and adaptation of a traditional solar chimney as an exterior facade skin system for temperature control and ventilation, derived from similar biological systems.

Starting from an analysis of a unique animal function or process, we extracted a conceptual and systematic logic to be applied to a synthetic proposal which incorporates all aspects of the design.

Travis Lydon, RPI SOM CASE mollusks

The Nautilus Pompilius was used as a conceptual starting point, and the nesting of their biologic systems was used to influence the function of the final system.

A more calibrated analysis of the functions of the animal translated to a modular system of use. The distribution and application of the system is then determined according to the prevailing winds and available solar radiation on site.

Travis Lydon, RPI SOM CASE

The Venturi Effect is applied to both orientations of the solar chimneys, increasing flow.

The system originally was introduced on a small modular scale, and then upon further investigation was pushed to a more monolithic envelope system which is precisely calibrated to provide adequate ventilation and redirection of airflow on site.

Travis Lydon, RPI SOM CASE

In the space between the system and the existing facade, a moderate suction is created due to a temperature differential in the intermediate zone. The solar mass of the individual vents creates an increase in temperature on the surface.

The temperature difference between the walls and the facade, which translates to a natural circulation in the threshold zone drawing warm up and out of the tentacle like chimneys.

Travis Lydon, RPI SOM CASE

A frontal view of the system shows the flow of cool air in and hot air leaving through the top of the facade system on both sides of the building.

Travis Lydon, RPI SOM CASE

A final view of the project, showing it within the context of the site, adjacent to the Brooklyn Bridge.

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2 thoughts on “Ecophysialogical Architecture- Travis Lydon, RPI

  1. Nice project!

    A small criticism in terms of presentation: the dark grey is dulling the diagrams, which are actually very effective in convincing me of the system’s technical and architectural functionality (in addition to communicating information).

    I’m understanding the system as simply a facade that is overlayed onto an existing building, yes? This brings to mind these points:

    – How can the facade system interact with the existing building/existing building’s facade (besides the suction gap)? It looks like the chimneys correlate to the windows, which would probably create different microclimates within the building, which could then inform program and actual spatial layout (suggesting that your system can be both facade AND building). Is that an idea you were going for?

    – The system blankets over the existing building, almost eclipsing it completely. This isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing, but it’s definitely an extreme. This brings me back to my first point about your system meshing with the existing building; can the building peek through anywhere else besides the ground level? Is there any way your system can weave in and out of the building?

    Again, a great first submission! Can’t wait to see more

  2. Thanks for the great feedback Monika! Maybe I can help clarify a few points of the presentation.

    The grey background definitely takes away from the diagrams, I agree. Everything came from a page spread of my portfolio seeing as I didn’t have access to all the original files, but it’s definitely not an excuse.

    The original studio brief allowed us to make a decision as to the application of the system, and most (if not all from what I can recall) chose to simply reskin the original site buildings. The studio itself took a short while to really take off, as we had some logistical difficulties being down in Manhattan, etc, so the decision was made to generally leave the interiors of the buildings untouched so that we could focus on the development and application of the systems themselves. I agree again that the incorporation of the system at a deeper level would be an interesting proposal for this system, as you noted with the development of individual micro-climates within the larger system. My take on this project chose to work with what was given on the site with the original program and spatial layouts, and calibrated the chimneys/vents to work with the existing layout, but I think it would be incredibly interesting to revisit and work the opposite way with the system and see what it develops itself.

    The decision to blanket the entire structure was also one that was done deliberately, mainly to take as much advantage as possible of the winds on the site coming off the water and funneling down into the street itself. If you want a closer look at the site, which wasn’t really focused on in the post, it was located at the corner of South Street and Peck Slip New York, NY 10038, in the old Dodo Cafe at the Jasper Ward House building.

    Hope that helps describe the project a little bit more, thanks again for the great feedback.

    -Travis

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