Special Subject: Building Technology — Comfort in Motion — Design Strategies to Promote Human Powered Mobility through Comfortable Outdoor Spaces

Permission of instructor
Limited to 15

This seminar explores the relationship between outdoor thermal comfort and people’s mobility mode choices. The underlying premise is that, if provided with comfortable environments that are suitable for walking and biking, people will choose this option over alternative modes of transportation. We will further investigate what role architects and urban designers can play in creating such spaces. As a semester-long course project we will be investigating the street network between the main MIT and Harvard Campuses in Cambridge with the goal of developing and designing a network of biking paths that will further connect the two communities.

In section I we will review the existing body of research that links outdoor comfort conditions to people being outdoors. We will then introduce theories and assessment methods to evaluate outdoor thermal comfort and explore how to apply them to people in motion. Finally, we will introduce a series of computer-based analysis methods to predict microclimatic conditions such as solar radiation and wind flow around buildings. The outcome of this work will be an annual outdoor comfort map of the focus area. Based on existing literature and personal experience of seminar participants, we will develop a bikeability score index for streets. This analysis will be overlaid on our comfort map to understand where opportunities for urban design intervention lie. Throughout section II and III of the seminar, participants will develop a series of concrete design proposals and strategically placed street and intersection redesigns that serve the overall goal of providing meaningful, comfortable opportunities for human powered inter-campus trips.

Guests will include Dan Burden, Director of Inspiration and Innovation at Blue Zones, John Massengale, co-author of "Street Design" and Mikael Colville-Andersen, CEO and founder of Copenheganize Design Company.

Lab sessions are irregular, and therefore participants can be accommodated if partial conflicts exist. Full syllabus available at right for download as well as on Stellar.