UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage


First Bartlett MRes Conference

1 October 2012

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on Friday September 21st, the Bartlett was home to its first MRes Conference, drawing from the CASA, Energy Institute, and the Bartlett School of Graduate Studies MRes courses, the day provided a showcase for all of our MRes students. This was a great opportunity to see the outputs from the current MRes year, PhD and EngD students, meet people who have been through the process already and get a flavour for the exciting things going on at the Bartlett.


David Andreen                                                                EngD
3D printing and architecture – how algorithms can help us grow a biomimetic building
With the development of construction scale additive manufacturing (and other digital manufacturing technologies), new challenges and possibilities are emerging for architectural design. These technologies bring with them the ability for unlimited customisation and complexity, which is difficult to design, but also calls for new understanding of how a building can perform. The suggestion presented here is that biological systems provide a useful paradigm for both of these challenges and that concrete examples that could be implemented in architectural construction are found in nature.

David Di Duca                                                                 EngD

interactive installations: architecture, art and experiential marketing
Jason Bruges Studio design and build interactive installations across 3 key sectors; architecture, art and experiential marketing. I will present two projects of very different scales. I hope that describing these projects will provide an insight into how technology and custom software is developed and applied within the field in which I work.
The First is my final project from the Adaptive Architecture and Computation masters (the first year of my EngD), I Have these Two Faces. The control software enables the installation to infer simple characteristics of observers and to measure how these characteristics change. By inferring differences in observers’ characteristics, the behaviour of the installation evolves to presents itself to different observers differently.
The second, Aerial Dynamics, is a recently completed installation by Jason Bruges Studio for the Olympics and Coca-Cola. This installation comprised 180 animatronic nodes, connected by nearly 2 miles of cabling, containing over 15,000 LEDs. I will talk about the approach to realising this installation, with a focus on how the control systems were designed.

David Hawkins                                                                EngD
The lifecycle carbon impact of buildings and building design
The lifecycle carbon impact of buildings, which as well as the carbon impact associated with their operation includes the embodied carbon impact related to their constituent materials, is a developing area of consideration in building design. It is particularly important during the refurbishment or replacement of a building where expected reductions in operational carbon impact may be offset by the addition of new materials. The higher education sector has particularly strong drivers both to refurbish or replace aging existing buildings and to reduce operational carbon.
Key questions have emerged: to what extent does building refurbishment reduce operational carbon impact; how does embodied carbon impact vary between different design scenarios, particularly when recurring impacts and calculation sensitivity are factored in; how significant is lifecycle carbon impact as a factor in the building refurbishment/replacement decision.
A method for investigating these questions in the higher education sector is described. This includes the development of a database of 500 university buildings to assess energy use determinants, case study investigations to measure the effect of carbon reduction strategies and the embodied impact of refurbishment/replacement scenarios, and a web-survey of design and building management professionals to assess the significance of carbon impact in the decision making process. A target outcome is to incorporate key findings into a demonstration visualisation tool that simulates lifecycle carbon impacts: the tool will aim to aid decision making and to educate users on the relative magnitudes of carbon impacts for different design scenarios.
Preliminary findings so far from the buildings database indicate some success in the use of an artificial neural network to assess energy use determinants. Statistical analysis has shown appreciable variation in energy use by building activity and trends of increasing electricity use in both newer buildings and more intensively serviced buildings.

Jane Robb                                            MRes Heritage Science

Quantitative Assessment of Stakeholder Attitudes to Geological Collections for Improved Collections Management

Through application of exploratory interviews and an attitude questionnaire the research project set out to understand and define the values associated with geological collections, with respect to their expert stakeholders. Six values were identified using exploratory factor analysis of the attitude questionnaire:

·         Personal/Inspirational

·         Uniqueness

·         Originality/Historic

·         Educational Potential

·         Aesthetic/Commercial

·         Loss of Information

The first four values are defined by contextual information, making it clear that the value of geological collections is also defined by the specimens’ associated contexts. When the research was applied to a case study in collaboration with the Natural History Museum, it was clear that care had been taken to conserve specimens’ physical integrity and scientific information to preserve their educational potential in accordance with museum policy. However, the research indicates it may be just as important to ensure conservation of other associated contextual information contributing to Personal, Historical and Uniqueness values.

Pimpim de Azevedo                          MRes Heritage Science

Understanding ‘arga’ as a building material in Tibetan architecture

Tibetan traditional architecture uses materials that are suitable for the harsh local climate with big temperature variations between winter and summer, day and night, dry winters contrasting with a summer monsoon. In traditional Tibetan architecture, the natural material ‘arga’ is used to make flat roofs waterproof. There is little research available about what arga actually is and what gives arga roofs their waterproof qualities.

The study characterised arga as a building material through chemical and mineralogical analysis of different types of arga samples and provided insight into the properties of this natural building materials with respect to its properties as a building material.

Tiphaine Bardon                               MRes Heritage Science

 “Imagink” - Terahertz imaging of archival objects

The condition or shape of some documents may not allow for access to the contained information without a significant risk of damage. Additionally, iron-gall ink produced by the reaction of iron with tannins degrades with time which leads to creation of discoloured area or holes in the carrier (paper, parchment), causing such ink inscriptions difficult to read or even lost. The development of analytical and imaging techniques enhancing the readability of concealed or degraded inscriptions, and leading to a better understanding of the degradation of inks, is thus encouraged by paper and book conservators.

The research has shown that terahertz spectroscopy (40 GHz – 4 THz) can provide information about the chemical structure and the degradation processes of iron gall inks. It also enables the evaluation of the feasibility for different black ink inscriptions to be imaged and discriminated with this highly penetrative and non-ionising type of radiation.

Paula Morgenstern                         MRes – Energy Demand Studies
Challenges to heat metering in poorly performing district-heated apartment blocks

Residents of district-heated apartments currently often pay for their heating based on floor space. In this context, the introduction of individual heat meters hopes to reduce household heat consumption by providing an economic incentive for lower living temperatures. However, many district-heated blocks in the UK do not conform to today’s thermal performance standards and are poorly insulated. This project uses a case study approach to investigate what this means for residents if charged for heat consumption through meters. Semi-structured resident interviews and a technical analysis of the case study building reveal that ‘fairness in allocating heating costs’ is a major challenge.

Mike Fell                                         MRes – Energy Demand Studies
Children in home energy use research

As smart meters with in-home displays (IHDs) are rolled out to UK homes over the coming years, household energy use will (in theory) become more visible to all household members. This exploratory study investigated the use of IHDs as part of primary school energy education, with particular interest in acceptance of such schemes, the potential for learning to result and the role of children as possible agents of change in home energy use. Focus groups with children, parents and teachers provided the data. This presentation covers the findings, with a focus on children’s voices in home energy research.

Eva Menart                                     PhD- UCL Centre for Sustainable Heritage

Paper degradation in archival collections

Paper degradation is affected by different environmental factors; the most important ones in an archival environment are temperature, relative humidity and pollution. The most abundant pollutants present in archives are from both indoor- and outdoor-generated sources. The magnitude of the negative effect of pollutants on paper has been studied using different types of real papers. This has been quantitatively compared to the effects of temperature and relative humidity. The aim is to compare different environmental management options (e.g. filtration, lowering the temperature or the relative humidity level) to determine their impact on the lifetime of the archival collection.

Jennifer Love                                  PhD – Energy Demand Studies
How does occupant perception of domestic retrofit affect how much heating energy is saved?

Policy attributes a certain number of tonnes of CO2 abatement to each home retrofit measure. The figures are based on building physics calculations assuming a drop in the amount of heating required to maintain the same temperature after the retrofit as before. This PhD investigates to what extent the figures will be met, in real dwellings with real people in them. I will talk about my adventures collecting physical and interview data from an estate in the midlands, and share some insights I have learned in the process.

Photos from the event

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