Applied Research: Design-Build Studio as Laboratory
A design-build program integrated into the curriculum of accredited MArch/BArch programs at the University of Arizona uses the vehicle of small residential projects to hypothesize and test the efficacy of various wall and roof assemblies against thermal transfer and as thermal mass.
Five prototype dwellings were designed, by students and faculty, for the most common residential lot configurations in Tucson; each with a different thermal strategy for avoiding summer heat gain and/or increasing winter heat gain. While some residences were under construction by a design-build studio, a series of thermal sensors was placed at key locations within the wall and roof assemblies to measure the transfer of heat. A weather station on site recorded the conditions in the immediate microcosm, and all sensors reported to a computer stationed inside the residence under study. The temperature data was recorded every 15 seconds for a full year of inhabitation by homeowners, and then conclusions could be drawn about the performance of the building envelope.