Low Energy Strategies for Thermal Stress Reduction Through the Collection and Reuse of Water in an Arid Urban Environment
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe Painted Desert Community is located within the boundaries of the Petrified Forest National Park in North-Eastern Arizona. Situated on a windswept plain with an elevation of approximately 5,000 feet and an annual rainfall of 9.58 inches, the community serves as a research, conference and visitor center for the Petrified Forest National Park. The community was built as part of the Mission 66 program that aimed to promote the National Park system and was designed by the renowned architect Richard Neutra and his partner in 1956. Among the elements incorporated into the master plan were long and short-term residences, a schoolroom and an administrative building housing the Visitor Center for the park. Envisioned as a "microcosm of a city zoned into residential, commercial, recreation and industrial areas", Richard Neutra and his partner Robert Alexander's design focused on wind-breaking strategies and incorporated a number of outdoor areas intended to provide various levels of privacy. These included compact private courtyard spaces attached to each housing unit and a series of larger "oasis" spaces between buildings. The design was originally intended to merge the aesthetics of International Modernist style with the climate-responsive strategies of traditional Native American structures, namely a compact human settlement surrounding a large central courtyard. It is the author's opinion that the interpretation of the traditional city-style pueblo was of a morphological rather than a functional nature. The goal of this thesis is to synthesize the ideals of the International Modernist style displayed in the Painted Desert Community with current principles of water harvesting and management strategies to improve both the interior and exterior spaces in portions of the complex. It would seem that water and energy conservation were not a priority at the time of the design which, combined with budget cuts resulting in poor maintenance, has contributed to the deterioration of both interior and exterior spaces. The goal of this study is to investigate and propose alterations to the existing buildings and their immediate surroundings that will maximize water usage efficiency and collection within buildings, with the ultimate goal of reducing thermal stress within the buildings through the introduction of both passive and active strategies to manipulate the building envelope and the strategic use of landscape elements, and increasing the opportunities to enjoy the outdoor spaces that the architects had originally envisioned. Using advanced architectural modeling and a methodology responsive to climactic, geological, environmental and social factors, the proposed modifications to the original design strategy will aim to implement advanced responses to the specific microcosm of this dense built environment in an effort to preserve the most delicate natural resource of this arid region. Final documentation will include both quantitative and qualitative data. Furthermore, the author hopes to create an adaptable prototypical approach that can be used to develop strategies on a larger scale in arid and semi-arid climates.