Re:Vision Dallas

Picture 17The concept of emergence says that similar patterns frequently occur at different scales in complex systems. This natural self-organization grows out of an intrinsic logic of the system itself. We have conceived of this project as an integral part of its ecological context. Zoom out, and you would see this block as a sub-system of: an urban ecological-social-economic system, a micro-region, a watershed, a bioregion, a continent, and the biosphere. Zoom in, and you witness an injured local ecology of mostly n

on-native plants, impervious cover, minimal soil biota, and unpredictable storm water events on a site that serves the community and economy only as one of man’s lowliest creations: surface parking.

A Collaborative Approach
The complex problem presented by Re:Vision Dallas demands an interdisciplinary response leveraging knowledge and experience in a range of fields. Our team of 27 includes architects, engineers of nearly every sort, sustainability consultants, landscape architects, permaculturists, and educators. While our proposal is ambitious, it is also grounded in the expertise and experience of these individuals. In other words, it is feasible. While many of the ideas are unique, they have been carefully considered and our team has the requisite expertise to execute the project in a productive collaboration with the client and the city of Dallas.

Design as Research
We consider design to be a research process; even the most conventional project is a process of testing and refining hypotheses. That iterative process will be even more crucial to the successful implementation of this ground-breaking project. Our design includes a number of elements that are unproven at the scale we have proposed. Frankly, the whole team did not always agree on what was the best solution, even after extensive research and debate. We believe, however, that constructive dissent is healthy and necessary to push the team to question assumptions in the quest to create a great product. The consensus in the end is that the potential benefits of the solutions we propose outweigh the possible downsides. Rigorous analysis, physical testing, social research and design refinement will be essential to prove or disprove such concepts in the detailed design phase.

Energy Concept
The principle of emergence

again influences the energy concept of the project, here exemplified in the emergent intelligence of groups engaged in complex activities. We call it Open-Source Enegy Management. Occupants will be given control over every aspect of the energy systems of their immediate sub-community and be allowed to develop the best management practices that can minimize energy use, support agriculture, and satisfy their preferences.
The Intelligence Dashboard will further incentivize active participation in this process by providing recognition for those groups that develop the most successful strategies for saving energy, be they technical approaches or simple behavior modifications.
The site location itself presents some particular challenges. First the weather in Dallas has low winter ambient temperatures and extreme summer peaks with high humidity, not ideal for passive strategies. Design temperatures are winter -4.4degC (24F) and summer 37.

8degCdb/23.6degC wb (100/74 F). In addition traditional passive ventilation methods may not be appropriate due to acoustic intrusion from the adjacent freeway. The climate analysis on the psychrometric chart to the right clearly indicates that mechanical conditioning is necessary for a substantial portion of the year to maintain conditions within even an expanded comfort zone. Proximity to freeway pollution and noise, humidity, and sporadic wind directions dashed early hopes of using natural ventilation as a primary environmental control strategy. Shading is a primary concern, but passive heat in winter is still necessary as well.
Addressing this challenge requires a four-tiered strategy: 1. challenging design assumptions, 2. use

of the building envelope as the primary means of environmental control, 3. satisfying remaining loads with the most efficient systems and 4. generating the energy to run those systems with renewables.

Challenging Assumptions
We will employ the adaptive comfort model which says that, if building occupants have control over their environment and a connection to the outdoor weather, they will identify a much wider range of temperatures and humidity conditions as comfortable than normally assumed. This will allow expansion of the comfort zone and, hence, save energy. Systems will be designed accurately to meet actual predicted loads and excessive safety margins avoided.
In order to implement this philosophy successfully, residents will also be asked to change their attitudes about energy consumption. Often the simplest change gives the biggest saving. Switching off lighting, turn a thermostat down, and switch the TV off standby

mode all make substantial differences in energy consumption. The Intelligence Dashboard concept and smart metering described previously will assist in educating residents about energy consumption habits and patterns. Residents will able to identify exactly how much energy each end use is consuming energy and work to make reductions.

In the interests of sharing the wealth of information and ideas that were a part of this process, Various Architects has placed the entire competition scheme on their websites.  We have placed it below for your convenience.  You can see more of the design concept at their website now.

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