12.13.12 Final Post – Closing Thoughts

A systems way of thinking has become my natural way of thinking and will have a long term impact on my perspective. Engineering solves problems with logic and analytic skills, but has no meaning unless it is applied in a larger context. From systems, to energy, to thermal flows, to air, to light, and back to systems, this curriculum both broadened and focused my engineering perspective. It is the mutually shaping nature of technology and society that has played such a large role in the way we live. The Bay Game, for example, brings this interdependency to life and creates an interactive environment to educate more people about the role of stakeholders and the consequences our actions can have, both directly and indirectly. Taking this class has allowed me to tap into another network in my systems way of thinking. Systems works as well as they do because, as outlined by Professor Sherman, it follows many of the rules of hand for designing an intersubjective, interdependent ecosystem for human experience and resilience. System behavior feedback, resilient adaptability, coupled human/ climate systems, energy rules, heat rules, air rules, and light rules are all examples of ways the built environmental interacts as a system.

I remember the ice breaker in our first discussion class and it was very interesting to hear all the architect majors speak of how they are interested in how light can shape the behavior of people in a building or how the internal environment can be manipulated for different performance purposes in a building. To be very honest, my initial reaction to these concepts was slightly doubtful that I could believe these elements in a building could play that large of a role. My engineering classes taught me all about air flow and the law of thermodynamics but never discussed those aspects in an architectural sense or as a design tool. Moe’s Thermally Active Surfaces in Architecture and Lechner’s Heating, Cooling, Lighting are two of the readings that appealed to my scientific understanding of the subject while adding the architect’s application. I’m happy to say that this class changed my perspective. The case studies and readings really interested me and proved to me that these things really do matter, whether they affect the comfort of the inhabitants or the energy use of the building. The design of the built environment even touches cultural matters such as the difference between Japanese and Western lighting in Tanazaki’s In Praise of Shadows. I am much more aware of these visible and invisible elements that shape the systems involved in a building. The concepts of virtual water and energy footprint have given me a greater appreciation for the more hidden consequences of our actions. Buildings seem more alive to me now that I see all the complex systems at play in their operation. Ventilation systems are like the lungs of a building. Sunlight is like the energy source of a building. Thermal flow is like the blood flow of the building that maintains internal temperature. Technological and computer monitoring systems are like the brain of the building. The structure is like the skeleton of the building. And lastly, the resilience and adaptability is like the heart of the building. The heart is only as powerful as all the interconnected systems that it is tied to. It is the powerful role of architects and engineers to put these systems in place in a way that allows them to function at high efficiency and sustainability. Whereas some engineering classes can portray a rather gloomy outlook on the future, this class gives a hopeful view for the possibilities of our future growth and interaction with the built environment.

I am not majoring in architecture, but I will still take these concepts with me in the future. I haven’t decided where I will be working next year, but I am choosing among general contracting companies and design companies. Either way, I am interested in begin a part of the design and construction of structures. The partnership between engineers and architects is a very important one, and I think it will greatly benefit me to understand both sides. I think it will even make me a more valuable member of the team to be able to communicate well and enhance the relationships that drive the construction world.

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Final Project


Manitoba Hydro Place in Winnipeg, Canada is known as one of North America’s most complex energy-efficient buildings in one of the most challenging climates. Designed by architect Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects and engineering consultant Thomas Auer of Transsolar Klima-Engineering, the building utilizes a mix of passive and active building features. Interactions of light, air flow, and thermal comfort make the building a complex and dynamic system utilizing feedback loops and efficient energy use.

Building Features

  • Natural Ventilation: The building features a 377 foot tall solar chimney on the north side used to drive the stack effect.
  • Heat flow: Winter gardens (atria) and geothermal system help condition the air entering the building. A double curtain wall also insulates the interior thermal environment from the exterior environment.
  • Light: The East and West facing curtain wall has louver blinds and glazing on the curtain walls limit glare yet maximize light penetrating the interior space.

Geographically, Winnipeg is located in the center of Canada and has more hours of sunlight than most cities. The building’s triangular shape maximizes exposure to the South inflow of air and minimizes exposure to the cold winds coming from the North. A double curtain-wall on the East and West facades creates energy efficient buffer zones between the building interior and the elements. This helps to insulate the building against temperature extremes. Fresh air is drawn into winter gardens on the South side of the building to pre-condition the air before entering the building. An 80 foot water feature flows down the building through each atrium to provide humidification/dehumidification of the fresh air. See figure 1 for a visual. The air enters the workspace through vents in the raised floors and rises toward the ceiling as it is warmed and flows to the North end of the building where it exits through the solar chimney. The diagrams that follow will depict how the air flow systems are altered in the winter and summer to maintain the stack effect and thermal comfort.

Figure 1: Pictures showing water feature for humidification and de-humidification of outside air




Climate Conditions: (Climate Consultant Data)

Temperature: Winnipeg experiences very cold winters and mild summers. The atria and geothermal system play a large role in pre-conditioning the incoming air to maintain thermal comfort. See Temperature Range data below:


Prevailing winds: Winnipeg is the 12th windiest city in Canada with prevailing winds coming mainly from the South. The North end of the building is more narrow to avoid too much interaction with the cold winds coming from the North. See Wind Wheel below:


Psychrometric chart: The thermal comfort zone shown in Winnipeg’s Psychrometric Chart suggests that Natural Ventilation and Passive Solar strategies are best for tempering the internal environment. See chart below:




Interactions with the Surrounding Environment:

The building takes up an entire city block giving it at least a road-width of space on all four sides. The size of the shadows in this picture suggests that it is the tallest in the vicinity with no buildings blocking its access to wind or sunlight. These are important environmental conditions for the building to be able to utilize natural air flow and sunlight effectively. See below:


Winnipeg’s wind wheel overlaid on the satellite view of the building and its surrounding environment helps visualize how the building’s triangular shape can maximizes Southern wind exposure and minimizes Northern wind exposure. See below:



Strategies of capturing light and heat:

  • South facing winter gardens receive large amounts of sunlight and act as passive solar collectors in the winter allowing low winter sun to warm air in the atria and penetrate into the building.
  • During the summer, computer controlled louvers protect the atria from harsh summer heat and glare
  • Double curtain-walls on the East and West sides create a buffer between exterior and interior environments. Building occupants can manually operate the inner curtain wall windows while the outer envelope curtain wall is computer operated
  • Heat is stored in geothermal reserves during the summer to use during the winter (feedback loop)


Strategies for maintaining thermal environment through natural ventilation:

  • Winter gardens precondition incoming air
  • Air enters through raised floors under offices to rise up through vents and flow to the North end of the building as it is warmed
  • Solar radiant energy magnified with the double curtain wall system is used to warm incoming fresh air in colder temperatures
  • Geothermal System pre-conditions incoming air to warm it in the winter
  • The solar chimney draws warmed air out of the building through the stack effect
  • Solar heated sand at the top of the chimney maintains stack effect on warmer days to force the upward pull of warm rising air in the chimney
  • Manually operated inner curtain wall windows allow building occupants to control their individual environments
  • Radiant heating capabilities in ceilings are used if needed to encourage natural pressure differences that drive air flow from cool lower vents to warm upper exhaust vents


Sun Chart Overlaid on Building Diagram:


The sun chart was stretched matching the top of the building to 45 degrees. 


Floor Section Detail (Summer vs. Winter Ventilation Processes):



Building Envelope Section Detail (Walls, Floor, Ceiling):




Natural ventilation and thermal airflow are the two main design elements of this building and drive the sustainable nature in all of its aspects. I searched for an element or system to contest or argue against its claimed efficiecy, but its performance and system operations seem highly sustainable from my research. This building would not work as intended if it was crowded by surrounding skyscrapers, in an area without geothermal reserves, or in a hotter climate, but for Winnipeg’s natural conditions, this building is able to interact with its environment in a very dynamic way and even takes advantage of feedback loops.  I looked into its stormwater management techniques since that is often forgotten, but Manitoba Hydro Place has stormwater retention and filtration galleries around the building and within the city block to reduce the runoff volume caused by the impervious surfaces.

I think the double curtain wall is one of this building’s greatest features because it allows individuals to adjust their individual environments by manually opening inner curtain wall windows, but the outer curtain wall windows remain computer operated to maintain the proper internal and external temperature differentials needed for the natural ventilation stack effect to take place. It is an energy efficient comfort zone compromise. I also think the raised floor air intake system has promising applications. Cool air naturally rises as it is warmed so it is logical that the inflow should start low and exit high. The less that systems have to reverse or force natural thermal flows, the less energy a building consumes. All in all, I think the reason that this building works as well as it does is because, as outlined by Professor Sherman, it follows many of the rules of hand for designing an intersubjective, interdependent ecosystem for human experience and resilience. System behavior feedback loops such as geothermal heat reserves, resilient adaptability such as varying seasonal ventilation techniques, coupled human/ climate systems such as manually operated inner curtain wall windows, energy rules such as the closed geothermal system loop, heat rules such as material properties of the curtain wall glass, air rules such as the solar chimney stack effect, and light rules such as East and West facing glass curtain walls are all examples of ways this building is an intersubjective, interdependent ecosystem for resilience. 









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11.27.12: Final Project Draft Ideas

Continuation of Research on Manitoba Hydro Place in Winnipeg, Canada

Mix of passive and active elements:

  • Passive: south-facing winter gardens, natural daylighting, and the solar chimney
  • Active systems: dimable, programmable fluorescent lighting and a computer-operated building management system, adjustable windows – self control of ventilation

Some strategies to consider:  

  • maintain intended thermal environment with controllable windows to adjust ventilation
  • heated sand in roof maintains heat flow through chimney
  • capture, reflection, diffusion of daylight with north facing windows
  • double pane glass windows capture heat to create buffer
  • store heat below ground in reserves
  • heat ceilings if needed to maintain flow from windows to chimney
  • south facing winter gardens


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11.20.12 Light

Tanizaki’s In Praise of Shadows compares the aesthetics of light in the West to those in Asia. Western culture is ingrained in the pursuit of progress and search for light. Japanese culture on the other hand is focused on subtle and subdued aesthetics. Shadows are integral to appreciate the beauty of a traditional room or lacquerware with hints of gold and silver. Japanese art is designed to take advantage of dimmer lighting to bring out the subtle details. They are more focused on concealment and revelation. Beauty lies in revealing a little with a sense of mystery and intrigue. According to Tanizagi, the beauty of Japanese subtly is lost in Western floodlights. I think this is an important consideration for architects because even culture plays a role in the design of structures and an understanding of shadows and light opens the door for creative ways to accent and highlight different aspects of design. It can even be used to create art as in the case of the artist who played with human perception of light to create visual illusions such as imaginary surfaces.

 Light can also have an effect of our perception and mood. A gloomy day has an unpleasant effect on our mood because on heavily overcast days, the light is in the sky not on the objects that we want to focus on. A clear sunny day is one in which we are comfortable and happy to be outside enjoying the natural environment. Natural light on our immediate surroundings rather than the sky is a more pleasant environment. Designing artificial light to create a pleasant atmosphere should mimic a sunny day. Softer, warmer, lamp shaded light that spreads at lower intensities are more welcoming than harsh overhead lights at high intensities. Personally, light plays a large role in my perception of a pleasant atmosphere. I do not like studying in the lower basement levels of libraries with gloomy fluorescent lights. I always study by a window or in large open areas where light is spread more softly through an area. Additionally, when I was touring apartments to find housing for 3rd year, the amount of natural lighting was often a huge factor for me in determining if I liked an apartment or not. The topics of this class have covered several factors that affect the human comfort zone. Thermal flow and ventilation play a large role in our physical perception of comfort but I think light plays a large role in our mental perception of comfort which is just as important and cannot be ignored by architects in the design of buildings.

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Assignment 8

Manitoba Hydro Place in Winnipeg, Canada

Architect: Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects

Known as one of North America’s most complex energy-efficient buildings in one of the most challenging climates

Engineering consultant: Thomas Auer of Transsolar Klima-Engineering

Orientation allows Winnipeg’s prevailing southern winds to naturally ventilate the structure






Research in the Fine Arts Library yielded no book sources but I found a case study online: http://www.smithcarter.com/green/resource/Media/Hydro_Case_Study_April2010.pdf

 Geographically, Winnipeg is located in the centre of Canada and experiences extreme fluctuations in temperature. More than 40 per cent of the year, the temperature is below zero celsius. But Winnipeg also has more hours of sunlight than most cities and enjoys hot humid weather during the summer months.

 The building’s triangular shape maximizes exposure to the south. A double curtain-wall on the east and west facades creates energy efficient buffer zones between the building interior and the elements. This helps to insulate the building against heat and cold.

 A 377 foot-high solar chimney rises above the top of the building on the north side. It is key to the passive ventilation system of Manitoba Hydro Place, relying on the natural “stack effect” of a chimney to draw air out of the building.

 Fresh air is drawn into one of the three six-story or the single two-story atria on the south side of the building. Water features in each atrium provide humidification/ dehumidification of the fresh air, while waste heat recovered from the exhaust air and natural solar energy warm the fresh air. The south atria act as lungs, providing pre-conditioned fresh air to the building via the raised floor system. This pre-conditioned air enters workspaces through vents in the raised floors. Occupants and other sources of heat will cause the air to rise toward the ceiling. This system supplies the office space with 100 per cent fresh air, 24 hours a day, year round. The air rises to the ceiling and flows to the north end of the building, where it can be exhausted passively by the solar chimney. Natural ventilation minimizes the need for forced air mechanical circulation.

 Water feature for humidification and dehumidification:


 Climate Conditions:

Average seasonal temps:

Spring: 50F

Summer: 80F

Fall: 45F

Winter: 10F

Extremes: -31F to 94F

Season types: Cold and Dry – very sunny

Prevailing winds: Winnipeg is the 12th windiest city in Canada

Climate consultant Wind Wheel


Psychrometric chart:

Climate Consultant Chart



Natural ventilation and Passive solar strategies are best for tempering the environment to the seasonal conditions of Winnipeg








Ventilation perception of inhabitants:



Air inflow via underfloor displacement ventilation (enters low, excites high-ceiling) convection. Radiation from ceilings for added warmth if needed.

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Assignment 8 Draft

Assignment 8: Ventilation Case Study

  1. Case Study
    1. Manitoba Hydro Place in Winnipeg, Canada
    2. Architect Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects
    3. Known as one of North America’s most complex energy-efficient buildings in one of the most challenging climates
    4. Project’s energy consultant: Thomas Auer of Transsolar Klima-Engineering – said that “Winnipeg is basically sunny whenever it is cold. We couldn’t find a single cold city in the world with so many sun-hours, so there is no better location than this for a passive solar design”
    5. Orientation allows Winnipeg’s prevailing southern winds to naturally ventilate the structure
    6. In winter, fresh air enters each winter garden through louvers in its south-facing, double-walled facade. Here the air is heated by the sun and humidified. If necessary, air picks up additional heat from fan-coil units, then feeds the underfloor displacement-ventilation systems. This heat is supplied in turn by chillers, whose source is geothermal wells drilled beneath the building. Air moves horizontally through the offices, finally reaching the solar chimney at the north end of the building through any one of nine two-story atria. In winter the air is drawn downward through the solar chimney into heat-recovery units, then warms the parking garage beneath the building. The building’s double-walled facades consist of two low-iron glass curtainwalls, separated by a three-foot-wide air buffer which prevents thermal bridging from the interior to the exterior.
    7. In the summer much of the process is reversed. Air is dehumidified after entering the winter garden. If necessary, additional cooling may be added before the air enters the underfloor displacement-ventilation system. Heat is also absorbed by the radiant ceilings, extracted by the chiller, then sent into the geothermal wells, warming the soil around them until heat is needed in the winter. As in winter, air flows from south to north, although now the stack-effect draws it upward and out the top of the solar chimney. To ensure that cool night air does not interrupt the stack effect, the sun’s heat is stored in sand filled pipes at the top of the chimney.


  1. Climate Conditions:
    1. Avg seasonal temps:
  1.  Spring :50F
  2.  Summer:75F
  3.  Fall: 45
  4.  Winter: 10F
    1. Season types: Cold and Dry – very sunny
    2. Prevailing winds: Winnipeg is the 12th windiest city in Canada
  1. Psychrometric chart: indicate what strategies for tempering the environment are critical to the seasonal conditions of the case
    1. Natural ventilation
    2. Passive solar
  1. Plan and section or 3D diagrams to indicate natural ventilation and principles at work – cross vent, venturi effect, stack effect, pressure differentials. – no arrows to indicate properties of airflow such as temp, humidity, pressure, density, direction
    1. Stack effect mainly
    2. Section:


    1. Plan:


  1. Graphically indicate how inhabitant would perceive ventilation strategy
    1. Breeze inflow via underfloor displacement ventilation (enters low, excites high-ceiling) convection
    2. Enters and exits each floor
    3. Radiation from ceilings for added warmth if needed
    4. Air is humidified in winter and dehumidified in summer before entering office spaces  – experienced evaporation in winter


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11.13.12 – Airflow and Ventilation

Natural Ventilation methods are not a new discovery. Termites have perfected the art of ventilation to maintain the climate of their underground colonies. The porous mounds experience both the stack effect and cross ventilation air flows using air-pressure differentials. I think it is incredible that our architects and engineers have learned from these tiny master builders to incorporate natural ventilation methods into our buildings and homes. To do this, the physics of air flow must first be understood. The stack effect occurs from warm air rising. Tall narrow chimneys create a fast escape for less dense warm air out of buildings. The Bernoulli Effect is the inverse relationship of air flow velocity to pressure. As the velocity of air flow increases, the pressure decreases. Perfume sprays utilize this effect by passing a fast air stream over the tube, lowering pressure, and drawing perfume out into a spray. The Venturi effect is an increase in flow velocity through a decreased flow area. One example of the combination of the Venturi and Bernoulli effects from Professor Sherman’s lecture was the theater with a filtering mesh that allowed outside air in. The tiny pores of the filtering mesh decreased the area that the air flowed through, accelerated it, and decreased the pressure. This dehumidified the air and created a pleasant air flow into the theater.

The Green Studio Handbook by Kwok states that the most effective method to lessen energy from mechanical cooling is to eliminate it through climate adapted design. The reading titled Natural Ventilation Systems outlined the qualities of a building suitable to ventilation methods. These include a narrow plan or atria, minimal air pollution, and access to wind. Cross Ventilation works best in open areas with fairly constant air flow. Wind creates a high pressure zone where it hits a building and a low pressure zone on the leeward side. Air flows from high to low pressure so this pressure differential creates air movement. Stack ventilation draws cool air in to a building to replace the warmer air that rises out of the building.

I though this natural ventilation location was interesting:


It was designed by Slant Build co-directors Glenn Parker and Warwick Weber. I think it is smart to take advantage of the natural ventilation methods already occurring in an environment like the one pictured. Cool air comes in off of the lake, warms, rises over the mountain and creates a constant air flow. Putting a house right in the line of this natural ventilation takes advantage of these pressure differentials.

In a larger context, knowledge of air flow and ventilation has safety implications as well as energy saving uses. It is for this reason that you are not allowed to leave your car idling next to air intake vents. The exhaust is dangerous for the inhabitants that breathe the air delivered from those vents. Air flow is also critical in house fires. A room with one opening doesn’t have much air flow but two openings create an inflow and outflow. Firemen have to be aware of this when opening doors and windows. Fire can surge through an opening if the airflow is suddenly freed out of a closed space.

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