Authors: Kimberley Mason, Masa Samra, Leonardo Pereira -
Our project in a nutshell
During our MSc Environmental Design course, we were split into small groups and each group chose a topic for a design project.
Our group designed a sustainable Passive House standard school which achieved BREEAM Excellent. We also ensured occupant comfort and that it met the various requirements set by the client, with focus on sustainability. We created a YouTube video showing our initial design and explaining our sustainable design strategies.
Our main objective was to provide a school that was environmentally friendly, but also to create an environment that was welcoming, inclusive, safe, and encouraging its students to be creative and innovative. We designed the school so that it could facilitate teaching and learning about sustainability and so that students could gain a great appreciation for the outdoors.
Masa, Kimberley and Leonardo talk about their project and show their creative designs
How we did it
To produce the design, we used what we had learned in class and extended our knowledge by applying our new skills to evaluate different passive design solutions. These included natural ventilation strategy, day-lighting solutions, sustainable material options, BREEAM compliance. We wanted to integrate everything we had learned from renewable energy to materials to construction methods.
Did we achieve our objectives?
We achieved all that we set out to achieve and we produced a design we are proud of. We spent a lot of time brainstorming as a team and evaluating different design options, and bouncing ideas off one another. We also distributed tasks based on each other’s strengths to ensure a speedy workflow. We worked on the project by setting targets and steps at each stage, checking they were met.
What we learnt on this project
We discovered a lot about teamwork and picking up different skills from each other. We learnt everything about passive design and initial design stages, as we were going through them and were exposed to different building guides and regulations.
Working on a project long-term, we considering later design stages from the beginning to ensure our design measures click together in all the stages. It was very useful that we practiced how to best convey our ideas in a video format for a potential client, while studying how to use the video software.We also gained invaluable knowledge reading building guides and regulations, and developed new skills in IES, AutoCAD and SketchUp.
Our main takeaways
- Take passive design decisions into account from the initial stages
- Plan your project in advance and set targets and goals
- Split the workload between team members and listen to each other’s opinions
- Consider other options when that are not your first choice.