Ecological building design: a proof of concept and identifying the factors which deter the use of Iranian vernacular principles in modern architecture

PhD Thesis

MIri, EM (2016). Ecological building design: a proof of concept and identifying the factors which deter the use of Iranian vernacular principles in modern architecture. PhD Thesis London South Bank University School of the Built Environment and Architecture
AuthorsMIri, EM
TypePhD Thesis

Previous research has shown that there is a strong link between people, buildings and climate: the building sector contributes up to 30 per cent of global annual greenhouse gas emissions and consumes up to 40 per cent of all energy. Most 20th-century buildings in the world are currently reliant on electro-mechanical cooling systems. Researchers and scholars have studied and analysed the sustainability issues in architecture casting light from different perspectives. However, such studies have seldom paid significant attention to the principles of sustainable Iranian architecture. Environmental sustainability and sustainable architecture in Iran are still relatively new concepts. This research fills the gap on the application of vernacular architecture to modern building design, particularly in the context of Iran and its climate by creating an informed and tested understanding of how vernacular architecture can inform modern building design and techniques. There have been limited studies on vernacular design as a source of knowledge which can contribute to 21st century challenges. The scope of this study is not only limited to Iran as its finding are also applicable to other countries with hot climates.
As one of the key contributions, this thesis demonstrates how energy use in buildings can be minimised using such principles that are adopted from Iranian vernacular architecture. The study firstly relies on the state of the art literature review on vernacular architecture in Iran using secondary analysis, and then offers comparisons, analysis and hypotheses testing in the following sections. The challenge of extracting Iranian vernacular architecture principles (IVAP) has been achieved by a multi-method approach. Site observations, sketches, drawings and measurements at the early stages were reinforced by further detailed analysis of the literature beyond IVAP, and supplemented by studies in sustainable design such as passive design. It was found that IVAP have many common elements which are shared today by passive design. The methodology for the above consists of simulation modelling and comparisons of the energy in use for building designed using IVAP versus designs using conventional building techniques in Iran. By using energy software packages (Integrated Environmental Solutions, Design Builder, CC5) it is found that the application of IVAP can significantly improve energy consumption in buildings. The research also explores a novel approach and tests the feasibility of using ‘adobe’ as an insulation material for construction of walls. The analysis involves construction of a wall using this new approach (inspired by IVAP) and testing it in the lab for its energy performance. The findings confirm that as a building material, ‘adobe’ could be potentially a feasible and environmentally friendly substitute to conventional insulation with additional sustainable benefits such as using local materials and preservation of traditional culture in the region.
Another contribution of this study is to offer a deeper understanding of the drivers and barriers to the implementation of IVAP in today’s architecture in Tehran, Iran. To achieve this a survey was conducted which revealed that an integral part of the implementation and application of IVAP is education and design of the UG and PG curricula. Recommendations are made to highlight the necessary and critical adjustment to policies regarding promotion of IVAP to safeguard the environment and national and cultural identities.

PublisherLondon South Bank University
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Publication dates
Print06 Apr 2016
Publication process dates
Deposited10 Aug 2017
Publisher's version
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