Energy Modelled Realities by Sonja Dragojlovic-Oliveira

Conference Keynoters


#Conference 7-8 December 2017

Energy Modelled Realities…The 21st Century Architect as an Adopter or Adapter to Data Driven Design?

In the post digital age of an increasingly data driven design world, territories of analysis traditionally assumed to be occupied by engineers are starting to be consolidated by others. Striving to meet growing thermal standards and energy efficiency measures, top architecture firms in the UK and USA are promoting the use of in house energy analysis and modelling. Though the need for architects to engage in energy analysis is called upon in policy and scholarship, there is little understanding of how this broadening of energy analysis is taken up in practice. How are architects adapting to these new practices? What are the effects of energy modelling tools on architects design? What remains intact and what changes? Do architects adapt their ways or simply adopt this new process within their practice?

These and other questions are investigated as part of a large UK/USA research project led by Dr Sonja Dragojlovic-Oliveira.The analysis draws on institutional theory utilising semi structured interviews and focus group sessions with 40 participants across 8 large international architecture firms in London, Bristol, Manchester, New York and LA. Preliminary findings indicate differing organizational, team and project approaches with an emphasis placed on legitimating established design assumptions across the firms.

The implications of the findings are twofold. First, the analysis provides an initial overview of how early stage design energy modelling is considered in design in architecture practice in the UK. Second, the study provides an understanding of how architects negotiate meaning on energy in design. There are also implications for energy policy development in the context of the built environment particularly concerning building performance.

This project focuses on the architecture profession in the UK and USA, acknowledging that multiple overlapping professions and other cultural contexts will enable further insights. Further work is required to determine the extent by which particular logics are emphasized in certain firms and whether a dominance of a particular set of logics enables wider use and greater effect. In addition, more integrated contributions are needed in the longer term, including a consideration of energy issues against other design and construction concerns as well as an analysis of various personal, organizational and project demands.

Sonja Dragojlovic-Oliveira, PhD, MSc, B(Arch)hons, trained in architecture in Glasgow, Vienna and London and has held numerous senior design posts in award winning firms in the UK and internationally. She is currently a Senior lecturer in Architecture and Environmental Engineering at the University of the West of England, Bristol. She is a steering group member of the South West STL Research and Innovation Panel. Her current research involves collaboration with over ten international leading design practices involved in architecture, engineering and urban planning as well as cross disciplinary cooperative links with artists, photographers, sculptors, economists, pharmacists and psychologists. Her research and practice networks span the Middle East, the Balkans, Portugal, Brazil and North Africa.Her current research focuses on design interfaces between energy, controlled environments, evaluation and emotion in design practice. Most recently she has lead a ‘heating controls’ international evidence review research project for the UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).