Isover Student Competition finale - LIVE

Yesterday I spent the majority of my day at Ecobuild on the jury for the seventh annual Isover student competition. Student competitions are such good practice; I’m all in favour of them. This is the second student competition I have judged this year, and it is an excellent way of encouraging students to engage with low carbon design.

See live streaming of the awards presentation at Ecobuild Wednesday afternoon here:

And the three winning schemes which will go on to the international finals in Prague here.

This is an international competition, but it’s only the second year UK students have participated, and the first year the competition was open to all students in RIBA-accredited programmes.  The brief was compelling: a Passivhaus skyscraper in lower Manhattan. Not surprisingly, seven of the eight finalist teams were from Nottingham, home of the UK’s only MArch in Sustainable Tall Buildings,  led by David Nicholson-Cole. David was on the stand every time I happened by, cheering his students along. And the students’ models made a welcome contrast with the acres of PV on display this year.

All of the teams held up quite well through the unnerving experience of presenting to a jury of eight. Wolfgang Feist insistently quizzed each team about how their buildings would cope with overheating during New York’s hot summers.  John Prevc of MAKE ably stood in for Ken Shuttleworth who was en route from Hong Kong. See the full jury and competition details here.

Most of the schemes went for one big idea: a sky podium, a ’solar slice’ through the middle of the building, a garden ramp, a glazed facade of sunspaces - a sort of Denby Dale extrusion. The winning scheme - Green Canyons by Ankur Modi, Suruchi Modi and Chuyu Qui - proposed an imaginative prototype for greening the voids between Manhattan’s many skyscrapers.

Second place ‘Social Tower Experiment’ - by Yeuk Hei Wong, Xu Xu and Jianhui Chen - was a carefully considered scheme, which developed the concept of villages within the tower very successfully.

Would be good to get the word out so that more schools take up the Isover competition as a studio project next year.

Congratulations to all for the tremendous hard work you put into the competition.

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3 Responses to “Isover Student Competition finale - LIVE”

  1. It’s ironic that Dr Feist should quiz them about hot summers, as the most insistent criticism of Passivhaus is that it didn’t (in its earlier phase) consider hot climates, and in my opinion, still doesn’t.
    The winters in NY are at best as severe as our last December, and often colder. We focused on this. There is also massive wind chill at 240 metres altitude and it is inconceivable to have an apartment without a heating system, especially when there is no ground for ground-air exchange or heat pumps. We also had validated strategies to dump summer heat into thermal stores, but Dr Feist batted those aside as ‘too complicated’.
    I assure you, no American (and New Yorkers are the fussiest of all!) would buy an apartment in a 500 million dollar skyscraper that didn’t have a heating system!

  2. David

    I was very impressed by the enormous effort all the students put in.

    As far as I know, Passivhaus has always considered summer comfort and there are certainly a growing number of examples in climates that require both heating and cooling and also dehumidification.

    The confusion with 1970s passive solar houses which are hot in summer and cold in winter is one of the reasons I argue (against Dr Feist) for the use of the German spelling.

    Passivhaus is a performance requirement that is independent of climate so appropriate solutions will be climate specific.

    Dr Feist did not say that it was not cold in NY, just that it also gets very hot, a very challenging climate for any building.

    In terms of heating systems it is a myth that a Passivhaus building does not require heating.

    In terms of the proposals to move low grade heat around the building the problem is the Second Law of Thermodynamics rather than an objection to complexity.

    (The First Law is ‘there is no such thing as a free lunch’ the Second Law is ‘and you don’t get much change either’).

  3. David,
    PassivHaus buildings do have heating. They are not zero heating - hence the requirement for less than 15kWh/m2.yr rather than zero. I think that simplicity is of paramount consideration as technology breaks down all to easily, furthermore key considerations are comfort standards (such as ASHRAE 55) and the second law of thermodynamics (there are limits to what can be done with all that summer heat). Personally I consider that Dr Feist was correct to focus upon summer comfort.

    Kind regards,

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