Alternative Zero: San Francisco

  • The project worked with a broad range of criteria in order to monitor the side effects of optimizing for one parameter. Sketch: John Sullivan

    The project worked with a broad range of criteria in order to monitor the side effects of optimizing for one parameter.
Sketch: John Sullivan
  • The buildings were designed and arranged to maximize the potential for solar heat gain during the winter. The graph shows the lowest interior temperature in January without mechanical heating.

    The buildings were designed and arranged to maximize the potential for solar heat gain during the winter. The graph shows the lowest interior temperature in January without mechanical heating.
  • Average temperatures are projected to rise and heat waves increase over the next 50 years in San Francisco. Lofts can take advantage of buoyancy driven ventilation to keep the buildings cool without air conditioning.

    Average temperatures are projected to rise and heat waves increase over the next 50 years in San Francisco. Lofts can take advantage of buoyancy driven ventilation to keep the buildings cool without air conditioning.
  • Optimizing for natural lighting is a balancing act between glare and darkness. We used digital modeling to find the best combination of building width, spacing, and design.

    Optimizing for natural lighting is a balancing act between glare and darkness. We used digital modeling to find the best combination of building width, spacing, and design.
  • The buildings were designed to take advantage of existing wind patterns for natural ventilation. An analysis in Design Builder helped to check the design.

    The buildings were designed to take advantage of existing wind patterns for natural ventilation. An analysis in Design Builder helped to check the design.

Alternative Zero was the outcome of a semester of research into computational methods for modeling and optimizing urban energy flows. The project rethinks the design of an urban neighborhood in San Francisco. The neighborhood was designed using tools which analyze the effect of building adjacencies in terms of thermal comfort, energy use, daylight access, and walkability. In particular the research was supported by the Urban Modelling Interface (umi) tool which is in ongoing development at MIT.

The project takes advantage of the moderate San Francisco climate to maximize the site’s use of renewable energy. The buildings are designed to facilitate natural ventilation, optimize solar heat gain, and eliminate daytime artificial lighting. Several custom Grasshopper definitions were developed to analyze and optimize these factors.

Responsibilities: Grasshopper scripts, building design, natural ventilation

Instructors: Prof. Christoph Reinhart, Timur Dogan, Alstan Jakubiec, Tarek Rakha

Team: Catherine De Wolf, Sun Min Hwang, John Sullivan, Trygve Wastvedt, Mingxie Zou