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Responsive Architecture Workshop. Tutor/s: Dominik Holzer, James Gardiner

This studio investigated the possibilities of using building-performance as a co-driver in the morphogenetic development of architectural design. In the light of the progressive use of digital tools for manifold performance analysis, simulation and evaluation by distinct experts in the field of architecture, engineering and construction, we investigated methods available to architects to derive basic feedback for building performance in the early design-stages. The focus of this studio lay on the ‘decision support’ qualities during the design process that simulation and analysis tools provide to quickly evaluate performance and apply rules of thumb during conceptual design. We tested how environmental performance can impact the morphology of a building using two case study projects with identical program. We then located them on two climatically different sites. One in the tropics (Cape Tribulation) and one in moderate climate (Cape Schanck). Ultimately the aim for students was to rethink their design process and to propose a performance oriented aesthetic based on specific site-conditions and their choice of performance priorities associated with the two different sites.

Cape Tribulation

Cape Schanck



3. 1.




Cape Tribulation Floor Plan Scale 1:100

LEGEND 1. Living 2. Kitchen 3. Bath 4. Bed

5. 7.


2. 6. 3.


LEGEND 1. Living 2. Kitchen 3. Bath 4. Bed

Cape Tribulation Floor Plan Scale 1:100

Canopy & Parametric Screen Oposite Page.

Cape Schanck (Vic) Performance Drivers: -Views/Orientation -Thermal Comfort - Solar Penetration


5. Outdoor area 6. Water Feature 7. Emmagen Bea

Cape Tribulation (Qld) Performance Drivers: - Views/Orientation - Air Flow/Thermal Comfort - Solar Penetration

Cape Tribulation House Responding to prevailing winds, tropical sun, site and the treatment of monsoonal rains.


son on Dry Season (June 21) 1)



Wet Season (Dec 21)

S North

Tropical study Expressive of water distribution from shade canopy to ground, the house is anchored on site whilst elevated and open, promoting an interactive experience with the lush canopy of the hot tropical location.


Cape Schanck House Responding to the changes of a costal temperate climate, sun, site and the collection of limited water.

Winter (June 21)


Summer (Dec 21)




Temperate study Formally eluding to the collection of water into the foundation tank below, the house is set into the site and internally voluminous to emphasise a nurturing protection from the location’s harsh and varied elements, whilst promoting an abundance of visual experience.


Cape Tribulation Above: View from south with Grasshopper formula Right: Plan + Section Below: Ecotect Analysis

Thermal Comfort

Summer Solar Radiation

Winter Solar Radiation


Thermal Comfort

Summer Solar Radiation

Winter Solar Radiation

Cape Schanck Above: Ecotect Analysis Left: Plan + Section Below: View from south with Grasshopper formula


Cape Tribulation design This design is generated depending on the data from ecotect, topstructure, could respond to the sun, thermal, and wind.


Cape Tribulation design This design responds to structure, the sun, thermodynamics, rain.


Climate responsive holiday units on the coast


Design solution for two different climatic attributes The climatic condition in Cape Tribulation and Cape Schanck is totally opposite of each other. The house in Cape Tribulation with tropical climate requires full sun shading, however moderate climate Cape Schanck requires shading for summer sun and access for winter sun. Views, wind, rain collection system, structure and thermal comfort are some of the design drivers to be considered. 11

This studio was enabled through the input and committment of its participating students: Girish Sagaram Michael James Jansen Haslett Richard Grounds Ifigenia Jenna Emmanouilides Bang Zhao Megan Louise Hendy Margaret Sim We would further like to thank the following individuals for their assistance throughout the semester: Prof. Mike Xie (RMIT, School of Civil Engineering) Jon Morgan (Arup) Sascha Bohnenberger (Bollinger + Grohmann/Sial) Drew Williamson (McBride Charles Ryan/Sial) Matthew Blair and Royce Lee (BVN Architecture) Jane Burry and Tim Schork (Sial) Dominik Holzer and James Gardiner

Studio Details Title: Responsive Architecture Workshop Tutor: Dominik Holzer/James Gardiner Pole: Advanced Architecture Date: Semester 2, 2009 This and other documented examples of design studios run as part of the RMIT University Architecture program can be found on

Responsive Architecture Workshop.  

Studio Leader: Dominik Holzer and James Gardiner. Upperpool Design Studio, RMIT Master of Architecture (Professional), Semester 02, 09.

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