ACE405 - Design and performance optimization in architecture

ACE405 - Life cycle engineering

Study Period: LP3 January to March
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Aim: The aim of the course is to deepen the skills in using simulation tools for the integrated performance optimisation of an architectural design project. Performance criteria can include energy demand, daylight, thermal comfort, embodied carbon, amongst others. The students can choose to optimise an own design of a building or urban project that they developed in a previous course, or they can use the case study provided by the teachers. The design optimisation process will be based on and driven by knowledge gained using the simulation tools. After attending the course, the students should be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the underlying methods for building performance analysis and multi-criteria design optimisation approaches
  • apply building performance simulation software in the early phases of the design process to answer specific design questions with a sustainability perspective
  • structure and document their multi-criteria optimization process of the design solution
  • describe and evaluate design choices and their outcomes in terms of quantitative and qualitative criteria through several design iterations, using results from the simulation tools and simple architectural visualizations
  • present their proposal in a digital hand-in
  • describe, argue for, evaluate, and discuss their own and others’ proposals during a final critique together with university faculty and external reviewers

Content: The content of the course is adapted to a specific design problem and the case study that is selected each year. In general, the course consists of three parts. First, the course starts with a joint introduction in energy, embodied carbon, climate and daylight modelling and simulation in the form of lectures including many real-life examples. Second, the students are expected to learn the required simulation software for energy, daylight, and other performance criteria by using the pre-recorded tutorials with limited support by the teachers in special tutorial classes and using other resources available on the internet. The third part is the main part consisting of the group work on a specific design problem and documentation of the optimisation process. The project work is evaluated based in the final hand-in and the final presentation.

Organization: The design and optimisation project is carried out in groups of 2-4 students. Lectures in the beginning of the course provide the relevant theoretical knowledge. Pre-recorded tutorials are provided, and the students are expected to learn the simulation software by themselves. Tutorials in class will provide the opportunity to receive support. The final digital hand-in of the project is mandatory. Furthermore, the attendance of the mid-term and the final critiques are mandatory.

Examination including compulsory moments: The grading is based on the final hand-ins, the final project presentation, a review of the design process documentation, and comments during the final critique. The following grades will be used: failed, 3, 4, 5.

Alexander Hollberg
Alexander Hollberg
Associate Professor

Alexander Hollberg is Assistant Professor in the Division of Building Technology, at Chalmers.

Toivo Säwén
Toivo Säwén
PhD Student

My research interests are bringing sustainability tools to architects for use in early design stages.