Date of Award

5-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Architecture

Major

Architecture

Major Professor

Mark DeKay

Committee Members

Ken McCown, Scott Wall

Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the role of architecture in regulating the positive experience of interaction between people and nature. The concept of a thermally neutral interior environment is unnatural and consequently has negative effects on our experience of space. It is highly recognized that the introduction of natural lighting has contributed to the overall enhanced experience in office buildings, but now the idea of admitting natural ventilation into building design is being researched for its potential to increase occupant well-being. In researching and making connections between the interaction of the interior and exterior realms, I found that control and choice were the most significant aspects of contributing to a positive human experience in the built environment. Because these two aspects are missing in most contemporary office buildings in the tropical and sub-tropical regions, they must be recognized by designers as an important consideration to the well-being of the occupants in which they are designing.

The study concludes that the design of mechanical thermal comfort systems as it currently exists must be recognized as an inferior approach to the potential of passive systems that allow more options to obtain thermal comfort. To that end, this thesis offers an approach that brings the role of architecture back to one of its original goals of acting as an environmental system. This approach can also be adapted to different climates and building types, for it is not suggesting a homogenized experience but rather an architecture that allows for occupants to make their own experience within the space.

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