Call for PhD Student: Brutalist but Green: investigating innovative technologies to reconcile aesthetics with energy performance in 20th-century concrete architecture
11th February 2018, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK
DATE: 11/2/2018
"Brutalist Architecture (such as Erno-Goldfinger’s Grade II*-listed, Trellick and Balfron Towers in London) marks an important architectural approach that dominated the architecture movement in the 1950s –1970s, which capitalised on the raw texture of the building materials and the particular composition of building geometries. These buildings represent a formidable heritage and our concern as architects is to preserve them as a faithful evidence from our past, to be consigned to future generations. At the same time, in order to preserve the memory, architecture must be working and being engaged with activities and users, which often results in the need of maintenance, refurbishment, and conservation. Among these activities, energy efficiency retrofit becomes particularly relevant, as it involves major questions related to energy performance and climate change.

English Brutalist Architecture represents one of the most challenging subjects when considering energy efficiency retrofit. The concrete skin, a single unprotected layer constituted by a unique material brutally exhibited, is one of the most important features of a Brutalist building. Several questions arise when considering a Brutalist building for an energy efficiency retrofit. One of the main questions arising concerns the preservation of the Brutalist aesthetic while improving the energy performance of the building skin. This research, therefore, aims at investigating how material technologies and environmental strategies can preserve the unique character of the Brutalist buildings and achieve energy efficiency.

Tools aimed at computationally simulating environmental conditions have been evolving during recent years. Emphasis on using environmental simulation results can provide continuous feedback for the design process. Through developing virtual modelling methodology for existing Brutalist building(s), this research project will attempt to investigate not only spatial and morphological features, but also it will incorporate environmental data in order to perform simulation. At the same time, these buildings will be researched using measurement based technologies. The research will thus investigate the most innovative materials and environmental technologies and their design potential in energy efficiency retrofitting and impact on the preservation of Brutalist buildings character."

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