The focus of the 2012-2013 Springboard-funded Postgraduate Certificate in Digital Analysis & Energy Retrofit programme was a revisiting of the theme of multi-unit residential social housing which we called ‘Flattop’, to distinguish it from the previous years ‘Gullwing’.
Each student was required to develop an individual deep energy retrofit design proposal for the 1970s Dublin City Council replicable apartment block typology.
The project increased the energy performance requirement from BER A3 standard, which had been achieved in the previous Gullwing project, to a 45kWh/m2a or Nearly Zero Energy Building (NZEB) rating. That standard for NZEB was to be enshrined in Irish building regulations in 2017.
The project demystified the technology required to deliver the, then new, NZEB performance standard, with the wide range of options proposed confirming its viability, even for the more demanding retrofit projects. Building physics at a professional level was used to ensure the maxim delivery of healthy living conditions backed up by mechanical ventilation systems to optimise indoor air quality and energy efficiency.
Building on the digital analysis platform of the previous social housing work, the incorporation of communal energy systems opened up opportunities for municipal energy generation to enhance community resilience, completely eliminate carbon emissions from multi-family social housing and significantly offset the cost of municipal lighting. The first life-cycle carbon negative apartment building was born.
Harnessing the design skills of some very talented architects allowed some of the projects to address larger questions of urban regeneration, employment creation, social exclusion and urban densification, even whilst delivering on the very exacting energy performance requirements of the brief. Communal gardens, creches, play facilities and a large increase in private open space were proposed to enhance the living conditions of the social housing tenants.
All the projects were subjected to a design-stage sustainability assessment using an established international metric and all delivered the top rating within each metric.
These are selected posters of the Flattop Block project: