Innovation Hub for Affordable Heating and Cooling (i-Hub)
The environment that students learn in is an important part of overall delivery of quality education. When learning environments are fit for purpose and thermally comfortable, students’ focus improves, not to mention that having effective infrastructure for heating and cooling improves sustainability outcomes.
‘Innovation Hub for Affordable Heating and Cooling’ (i-Hub) Integrated Design Studios is a program run in partnership between Air Conditioning and Heating (AIRAH), CSIRO, Queensland University of Technology (QUT), the University of Melbourne and the University of Wollongong and supported by Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), to tackle issues of sustainability and facilitate a move to a low carbon emissions future.
The program provides Masters of Architecture students with the opportunity to conceptualise innovative design responses that marry the values of architecture and engineering, to create innovative, impactful solutions that tackle real world design challenges. In support of this learning program, the ACT Government volunteered as the “real world” client for the students.
“A really important aspect of this program is having a real client. The ACT Government has been fantastic because our students get access to experts that they wouldn’t normally get to work with, as well as in-depth research on energy costs and how a building is performing. At a human level, they get to hear stories about how the building gets too hot or too cold. It’s gold for these students, they get to see how things work in practice,” said the students’ tutor, Brendon McNiven.
“Normally, it would be 16 architecture students with the odd visit or two from an engineer, but these studios are all about uniting architecture and engineering to achieve an integrated design, the engineering support starts from day one and continues hand in hand so that the final product is a building that is aesthetically and architecturally good and also performs well in energy usage.”
The Masters students and their tutors, along with supporting industry experts, visited two ACT primary schools in March to begin the groundwork on their investigations. The students photographed the buildings and measured rooms, windows and ceiling heights, which will enable them to build 3D virtual models of the school.
They were also able to speak with teachers and staff, to learn about their personal experiences with the building.
For the students, this was an opportunity to apply the theoretical understanding they’ve developed through years of study to a real world situation, and a valuable window into what work in their chosen field will look like.
“As an architecture student, we don’t usually get to work with engineers, so to me that’s one of the greatest benefits of this program, we get to work with professionals and actual clients and get to hear their concerns in real life,” said student, Khue Ngyugen.
“I’m enjoying this visit very much, to see the education infrastructure you have here is interesting. It’s also been good for me as a student to look at how young people are learning and how outcomes can be improved by our work, both in terms of environmental impact, learning capacity and teaching experience for the staff.”
“It’s definitely closer to the real world applications, we’re getting to consult and working as a part of a team,” said student, Andy McDonell.
We look forward to seeing the ideas that these young innovators come up with and were glad to be able to help them on their journey to designing the schools of the future.