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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : Architecture and Landscape Architecture

Undergraduate Course: Sustainable Architecture, Structural Form and Embodied Energy (ARCH10048)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis optional course is concerned with the relationship between architectural form and the embodied energy of buildings. It provides a visual guide to structure that allows the relationship between built form and embodied energy to be understood and interpreted in a purely qualitative way. The course explains the different ways in which the amount of material that must be incorporated into a building are affected by all aspects of their shape, from overall form to detailed aspects of form, such as the shapes of components in longitudinal profile and cross-section. The course describes a basic methodology for the design of low-carbon buildings.
Course description The course explains the relationship between the form of a building and its embodied energy and carbon footprint. It is principally concerned with the structural components of buildings, which normally account for between 40% and 90% of their total embodied energy. The course explores the relationship between all aspects of structural form and the efficiency with which material is used. The treatment is purely visual. No use is made of formulae or calculations. The course provides a visual guide to structure that is intended for use as a design tool and that can also be applied to the critical appraisal of the technical performance of buildings.

The course begins with an explanation of the basic principles of structural behaviour and presents case studies to illustrate how the efficiency and carbon footprints of existing buildings, or proposed designs, can be assessed. Related topics, such as the evaluation of the embodied energy in materials, are introduced at relevant stages in the course and the course demonstrates the use of its principal themes as aids to design.

Students are encouraged to develop the practice of using the knowledge and skills developed in the course during their ongoing involvement with buildings whether this be as a design practitioner, architectural historian or critic of architecture.

The course develops the ability of students to assess visually the likely carbon footprints of buildings by making it a key theme of tutorial discussions and through the structures of essay and exam questions.

Students attend one lecture and one seminar per week. One-to-one tutorials are available on request.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  47
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 11, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 2, Formative Assessment Hours 2, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Revision Session Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 156 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) This course has 2 assessment components.
Essay (2,500-4,000 words) 50%, submission in week 11
Exam (2 hours) 50%, in examination period
Feedback Formative Task
Students are asked to submit a mid-semester essay plan (c.300 words), from which written formative feedback will be provided. One-to-one feedforward provided, on request, on essay plan.

Summative Feedback
Written summative feedback provided on essay prior to written exam, to aid revision for exam.
Written summative feedback provided on written exam.
Summative feedback based on the three learning outcomes will be provided, as per University regulations.

Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)2:15
Resit Exam Diet (August)2:15
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the basic principles that underlie the relationship between all aspects architectural form and the structural performance of buildings, including structural efficiency, embodied energy and carbon footprint
  2. apply knowledge and understanding of the relationship between form, efficiency and embodied energy to the design and critical appraisal of buildings and structures
  3. communicate through critical evaluation of the relationship between architectural form and embodied energy
Reading List
Macdonald, A. J., 2019, Structure and Architecture, Third Edition. Routledge. ISBN 9781138629240
Macdonald, A. J., 1997, Structural Design for Architecture, Architectural Press, ISBN 0 7506 3090 6
Macdonald, A. J., 2022, Myths, Realities and Carbon Footprint in Relation to Architectural Form, Architecture Technique, Vol. 28, No 4, ISSN 1674-6635.
Robertson, M, 2021, Sustainability Principles and Practice, Third Edition, Routledge, ISBN 978-0367365219.
Thunberg, G., 2022, The Climate Book, Penguin/Random House, ISBN 978-0-241-54747-2.

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Research and Enquiry: a critical understanding and reflective skill related to the assessment of the relationship between architectural form, embodied energy and carbon footprint,

Personal and Intellectual Autonomy: the ability to design buildings of low carbon footprint and to carry out the technical appraisal of buildings through creative engagement with a wide range of research methods.

Communication: the ability to contribute effectively to peer discussion and to communicate skillfully with informed audiences.

Keywordsarchitectural form,embodied energy,carbon footprint,design
Course organiserProf Angus MacDonald
Tel: (0131 6)50 2309
Course secretaryMrs Abbie Humphreys
Tel: (01316) 502306
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