Historically, China has diverse types of vernacular rural residential buildings that were designed to fit local climate and built with natural material. Nowadays, the Chinese government is promoting a series of housing templates on a national scale to standardized building design in rural area to solve the housing quality problems. However, the templates improve building energy efficiency by high-cost material and more efficient active systems with very few considerations of adapting local climate. This led to the housing in countryside are losing their own local characteristics as well as connection of natural environment. On the other hand, large amount of post-processed materials used for building construction has greatly increased the cost and the environmental impact such as CO2 emission.
The study tries to explore and analyze an innovative way of future rural housing design as an alternative to current energy inefficient houses and future government templates. The aim is to design a house that combines the advantages of high-efficiency modern housings and low environmental impact of old vernacular housings.
In this study, an experimental residential guest house design is taken for an on-going ecovillage project in north China. According to the site condition, results of climate analysis and design intents from the architects, the building is integrated with site topography by submerging into the ground for 50% of its external envelope and locally available rammed earth are used as major building material.
Interaction with design team are implemented during the design process. Building performance including daylight, energy use and occupants thermal comfort are analyzed as reference to improve design concepts and giving design suggestions. By optimized using of passive resources such as solar radiation, natural wind and ground temperature, the design building consumes 50% less energy than local conventional housings. It is nearly the same energy performance of government templates however the cost and environmental impacts are much reduced by using natural material and low requirement technologies.
The study implies the “design” is the key to achieve “high comfort, low impact” instead of using high-cost, sophisticated building material and systems. The demonstration of design process inspires people the design phycology of “building with the nature not against it” and methodology of specified design responding to local climate and topography.
Project mentor: Jakob Merk, Frederik Dolmans
Xiaochen Wu – China
Following his Bachelor in Building Mechanical Engineering in Donghua University and a two-and-half-year research study in building performance simulation, Xiaochen received his Master’s degree from Cardiff University and Loughborough University in the UK. He then worked for TJAD (a state-owned architectural design group in Shanghai) as a building physics consulting engineer for four years.