Oliver HECKMANN_thumbnail_RESEARCH_Next Generation High-rise_Workflow

Sustainable Design – Comparative LCA Modelling for Adaptive Housing Typologies



Grand Challenge: Sustainable Built Environment

Research Team 

Principal Investigators:
Michael Budig
Oliver Heckmann

Research Assistants:
Markus Matthias Hudert
Amanda Ng Qi Boon

Lynette Cheah, ESD/SUTD 
Colin Yip, Arup Singapore

Richard De Neufville

​Design-research based projects aim to find answers to the emerging challenges to human dwelling in the urban domain. They focus on socially and environmentally sustainable housing designs in urban contexts, and propose strategies for systemic adaptability to changing and diversifying societies and a social aesthetic of vertical communities, for climate-responsive layouts and material-efficient construction to minimize its impact on environment. Two projects combine this design research with the development of computational tools to evaluate the performance of designs.​

‘Next Residential High-Rise: Comparative Life-Cycle Assessment Study and Analytical Modelling for Adaptive Housing Typologies Based on Modularity and Composite Structural Systems’ 

The unprecedented growth of Asian cities will also in the future significantly contribute to the environmental impact of building construction. It is consequently essential to develop computational tools for Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) that enable designers to make informed design decisions in regards to environmental performance. The research project focuses on three integrative aspects:

First, the tool will give designers intuitively legible visual feedback to compare environmental performances of design iterations at initial design stages. To allow a systematic comparison the workflow follows an ‘Open Building’ approach and segmentizes designs into permanent support- and adaptable infill systems. For each system a series of dynamically alterable parametric ‘shoebox’ modules – representing numerously repeated cells within the building with variable load-bearing systems and material fractions – are linked to simplified parametric building models to generate visualizations of their LCA performance.

Second, the workflow will be specifically catered to projects in South East Asia – with regions of massive urban construction in close proximity to  vast resources of timber as a renewable and sustainable, but still rarely applied construction material. 

Third, the tool responds to an increasing demand for adaptable architecture. Predictive mathematical models will be used to translate future patterns of changing demands into impacts of alterations within the infill system. Evaluating the degree of adaptability will be used to specify the potential service lifetime extension of buildings, as potentially further optimizing the overall environmental performance of a building. 

The polyvalent layouts developed in the project ‘Urban Residential High-Rise Typology for Social Cohesion and Demographic Resilience’ are used for a notional building design, that is applied as backbone for the tool-development and for comparative case-studies. The design’s aspects such as its responsiveness to participatory decision-making are developed further and presented in various contexts as an integrative part of the research.

Life-cycle Assessment tool – Workflow Diagram

Stages of ‘Shoebox’ based workflow

Comparison of GWP (Global Warming Potential) performance of shear-wall (left) and column-slab (right) variant, with visualization of exemplary ‘shoe-boxes’