[Aero]tecture: An Exploration of the Relationship Between Natural Air and the High-Rise Office Typology
Date of Submission
Bachelor of Architecture
Edwin Akins II
This thesis explores the relationship between natural air and high-rise office typology and questions “has air been neglected as an essential element of spatial design, and if so, what are the consequences of such neglect?” Pre-1900, office buildings relied on natural ventilation to function. With the advent of technology such as air conditioning in 1902, accompanied by innovations in standardized steel, artificial lighting, and hydraulic elevators at the turn of the century, office buildings got bigger, taller, and deeper for economic benefit. The resulting architecture of high-rise offices supplemented natural air with mechanical air. The thesis concludes that several complications pertaining to the high-rise office typology including sick building syndrome (viral spread), extreme energy consumption rates, and psychological deterioration of workers is directly connected to this neglection of natural air.
The thesis proposes “what if technology was incorporated not to supplement natural air, but rather to advance the possibilities of natural air? Could the high-rise office begin to ‘open the windows’ once again? If natural ventilation strategies could be deployed at a national scale, the thesis hypothesizes that the built environment could begin to safeguard face-to-face culture (reduce viral spread by upwards of 90%), drastically reduce energy consumption rate, and return a phenomenological quality of space to the current homogenized experiential vacuums seen today.
The thesis walks the reader through an example of [Aero]tecture, a design methodology which prioritizes air through each phase of design. The thesis explores optimal sites for natural ventilation within the United States, site-specific design priorities to consider, step-by-step methodology for how architects can make educated design decisions prioritizing air, a workflow which incorporates BIM modeling and computational fluid dynamics and provides examples of design strategies and technologies which can be added to complement and strengthen a natural ventilation strategy.