In our last class (10/25) we were introduced to the concept of natural ventilation. We began by talking about a few reasons why we have to constantly ventilate an indoor space. A few of these reasons were that we have to ventilate carbon dioxide buildup, we use it to control the temperature of the space for comfort, to ventilate material off-gassing, and to control the humidity of a space. We also examined a few ventilation strategies, both manmade (sailboat) and not (termite hill), that have been in very successful use for hundreds of years.
I would like to share a really unique competition entry that uses natural ventilation on the city scale- something we have not yet examined. The project, named ‘Lace Hill’ is an urban landscape design that looks just like its name, designed to recall traditional Armenian lace needlework. This ‘hill’ was proposed for the edge of the already densely developed city of Yerevan, Armenia and plans to cover 900,000 square feet. The idea of a hill rather than a towering vertical monument came about as a way to ‘stitch together’ horizontal historic Yerevan and the adjacent country side. Included in the program: a hotel, a residential portion, offices, retail shops, a cinema, a health center, underground parking, and tons of public green space, plazas, and terraced gardens. Perhaps most importantly the hill would also serve as an amphitheater providing seating for the viewing of Yerevan and Mt. Ararat.
The design of Lace Hill uses ventilation in two main ways: One, to regulate the temperature of its interior, and Two, tower-voids act as dramatic cooling towers for the larger city, helping to naturally manage Yerevan’s semi-arid climate. The interior of Lace hill functions somewhat similarly to the termite mound we looked at in class in the sense that its sides are porous and it has a larger opening at the top. The walls allow wind to come in, bringing fresh air into the space which is cooled on its way into the hill by the cooler pond water located in many of the tower voids. The pantheon like opening at the top would function as the chimney in the termite mound does, by letting hot, stale air out. The wind blowing around the hill would encourage this by creating a suction for the stale air (just like the termite mound)
As I mentioned above, Lace Hill gives back to the city by passively cooling portions of it in the summer. The Hill uses ponds in many of the hills tower voids to store the cooler temperatures that the City may reach over night. During the day, the North breeze passes over these ponds, acting as a ‘giant evaporative cooling mechanism’ for the city below.
Another natural system that this competition entry takes advantage of is day lighting and sun exposure. The program of the Hill is organized around these principals. Maximizing Direct sunlight, All living spaces are along the long, meandering south face of the hill. Also on this side window walls set deep within the terraces shade summer sun from both the cooling ponds and the void inhabitants. “Offices, which need indirect light and where spectacular views are less valuable, are along the north face of the hill. A narrow office floor plate stepping down toward the south provides adequate, diffuse daylight. Retail, restaurants, exhibition halls, a cinema, and a health center line the promenade at the first level.”
In conclusion, this design offers an alternative to urban development as we know it, and applies natural systems as it does so. A few systems I didn’t mention but that are still extremely important in the design are Geothermal wells, radiant floors, and recycled grey water irrigation. Although this project is extremely far out, I appreciate the reconsideration of the traditional idea of monument that has been put into it. In closing, the Lace Hill architects leave us with a few statements to ponder:
“Instead of shimmering glass, a growing productive surface.”
“Instead of a sealed building, open sun-drenched terraces.”
“Instead of a building that imports a fleeting image, a building that invests in performance, connectivity, and function.”