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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Development of a Human-centered Climatic Design Methodology for Transitional Spaces in Hot-arid Regions
by Youssef, Omar, Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2018, 258; 10792744
Abstract (Summary)

The anthropogenic influences on our climate system has caused an unprecedented increase of carbon emissions amongst other greenhouse gases into our atmosphere resulting in energy imbalances and observed positive feedbacks. The American Southwest is witnessing major urban transformation as its cities are becoming centers for urban growth. Without adopting climatic design, this continued sprawl will greatly compromise the natural environment and, human health and wellbeing. Intensive urbanization has the greatest risk for increasing the carbon footprint, environmental pollution, urban heat island phenomenon, and infrastructure overextension. Increasing ground surface temperatures; the outdoor environment is observing record breaking temperature highs, while the artificial indoor set points stay the same to counter that effect.

Buildings placed in areas of excessive heat and glaring sun are in need of a comprehensive approach to address their environments. With the advancements in technology, trends have shown that architects and designers are shifting towards engineering solutions to artificially control their environments to a static state. While spaces steer away from passive designs, their operation demand high energy consumption and their occupants are deprived of a sense of nature.

Climatic design is a key ingredient to the success of an optimized environment, or to its failure. Human Health is one component that is most challenged and could be most responsive to that environment and its built parameters. The important role that these components play are greater when immersed in hot-arid regions where resources are scarce, and the built environment finds itself in a hostile environment where it struggles to survive, relying heavily on the consumption of fossil fuels.

The goal of this research is to develop a methodology in which the human physiological responses are centered in the role of design. Through examination of this phenomenon and recommendations based on the findings, developers will be informed of the importance of human-centered climatic design. Data driven to optimize both human health and the environmental footprint. Utilization of this method will not only decrease the contribution of the built environment but will also decrease the chronic exposure of humans to these high contrasts and pave the way to cautious practices optimizing health of the environment. The long-term goal is to develop indices based on human-centered climatic design to inform our design decisions and represent a flagship to a sustainable way of living. The objective of this research is to validate the dialogue between climatic design and human physiological comfort. The hypothesis is that a specific list of elements in man-made built environment trigger responses in both the atmosphere and humans. The rationale behind this methodology is based on the role of architecture as a primary instrument that could cause imbalances in both the climate and the human body.

To accomplish our objective and test our central hypothesis the authors outlined three broad environments; (climate, architecture, and human) to further investigate the relationship centered around the human body and its multisensory experience. Results of this study will allow the identification of an articulate common solution focused on transitional spaces.

The contribution of knowledge in this research is outlined in three sequential publications. The first adopts a comprehensive approach that redefines space and the elements in three environments that have an impact on it. The second leads with the previous developed relationship (from paper 1) to develop a human physiological comfort index applicable within a broader architecture foundation, and the third utilizes this index to demonstrate techniques developed in this research to measure climatic and human attributes objectively, and non-obtrusively. At the final stage these disciplines will be overlaid to create architecture unity in a sequence of variables which this document will follow. The conclusion outlines a series of concepts that represent human-centered climatic design applications.

This dissertation graphically articulates the interactive network of dialogue between humans and space to serve as a balanced approach to architectural design. The genesis of this investigation is supported by the development of a protocol that utilizes interdisciplinary research methodology that couples theoretical and empirical based discoveries to inform the fundamentals of the built environment, standards, and operations optimizing occupant health and wellbeing in extreme environments. By combining spatial design with health parameters, architects will be able to make decisions that will reduce energy consumption, decrease the impact on climate change; ultimately protect the natural world and optimally support future life. The actions taken in response to this study will not only decrease the direct impact of large temperature differences that trigger human stress responses, but will also reduce the emission of anthropogenic greenhouse gases.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Chalfoun, Nader
Commitee: Crimmins, Michael, Marsh, Stuart, Rosheidat, Akram, Sternberg, Esther
School: The University of Arizona
Department: Arid Lands Resource Sciences
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 79/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Design, Architecture, Environmental science
Keywords: Built environment, Climate responsive, Climatic design, Health and wellbeing, Human-centered, Stress responses
Publication Number: 10792744
ISBN: 978-0-355-97200-9
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