Department of Architecture

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Work by the faculty and students of the Department of Architecture


Recent Submissions

  • Publication
    An innovative sanitary fixture for performing ablution in public facilities
    (Emerald, 2024-01-14) Mokhtar, Ahmed
    Purpose: This study aims to introduce the design and the design process for an innovative sanitary fixture to be used in public facilities for the purpose of ablution. This purpose-made fixture is needed to support the hygienic, safe and comfortable performance of this essential function in public facilities in many parts of the world. The study also clarifies the need for this function and critically reviews current designs to address it. Design/methodology/approach: The study started by critically reviewing the standard built-in models for ablution. It also identified and analyzed new approaches to designing standalone ablution fixtures. The study then specified the characteristics of a better ablution fixture and involved drafting a design based on these characteristics, making a wooden prototype to test the design and receiving users’ feedback. The design was adjusted and tested again for more feedback. Finally, the study resulted in the development of a final design. It used digital fabrication to create the design prototype with improved aesthetics, tested it again and received user feedback. Findings: A survey of users showed that they found the innovative fixture more comfortable and safer than the commonly used built-in models. The main concern was the potential for water to splash on clothes from the high faucet. Originality/value: In addition to showing an innovative design for a purpose-made sanitary fixture for ablution, the study makes the reader aware of the various challenges of providing a hygienic, safe and comfortable facility for users to perform this function. This is very useful for the many designers and facility managers who deal with the issue.
  • Publication
    Examining the Deviation in Energy Saving Estimations Due to the Use of the Degree Days Method
    (Springer, 2022) Mokhtar, Ahmed
    Energy performance contracts are commonly used to retrofit buildings and reduce their energy consumption. The financial agreement in the contracts typically depends on calculating the amount of energy saved every year. This is difficult to calculate as many aspects that impact a building’s energy consumption continuously change, including the weather. The Degree Days method is commonly used to help estimate the energy saving while the weather is changing. The Degree Days can be calculated with a variety of base temperatures resulting in different values. This paper is a first step in examining the significance of the deviation in energy saving calculations when using this method. It also investigates if there is a more appropriate base temperature to use for that purpose. Energy simulation with actual annual weather data is used to make the investigation. Two different building types and three different energy conservation measures are used. The results of this preliminary investigation show that the deviation can be significant in some cases. They also show the possibility that a particular base temperature for calculating the degree days can give more accurate savings estimations. These can be very important results for users of energy performance contracts.
  • Publication
    BIM as a Pedagogical Tool for Teaching HVAC Systems to Architecture Students
    (ASCE, 2019) Mokhtar, Ahmed
    Understanding the basics of Environmental Control Systems including HVAC systems is required in architectural curricula. One of the challenges of learning this subject is the nonfamiliarity of the students with the components of these systems and how the selection and installation of these components can impact the architecture of the building and its spacial experience. Such difficult interrelationships can be clarified using various techniques. One technique that the author experimented with is the use of a BIM tool. Yet, using the tool to achieve this purpose had been a challenge in itself. The tool needs to be setup and its interface needs to be configured for a particular learning objective within a defined learning environment. This paper discusses the various techniques to achieving the learning of this required subject. It also shares the details of preparing and executing the experiment of using BIM hoping that other instructors make use of it and further build on it. A survey of the students who went through the experiment shows that a large majority believes that they learned the subject better through the BIM tool.
  • Publication
    Challenges of retrofitting affordable housing to net-zero carbon in the United Arab Emirates
    (IOP Science, 2019) Mokhtar, Ahmed
    Following the Paris Agreement, several governmental bodies in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) started working on further initiatives to improve the energy efficiency of buildings. Some of these hope to target net-zero carbon for new and existing buildings. As in most countries, the stock of existing buildings represents the bigger challenge for this target. In particular, existing affordable housing is the most challenging segment of the building stock. The limited access to expertise and financial resources makes it more difficult for owners of these buildings to retrofit them. Therefore, there need to be appropriate guidelines on how to achieve net-zero carbon in such building typology. This paper identifies both the technical and the financial challenges when trying to develop such guidelines within the context of the UAE. It also discusses the possible solutions that can be used to overcome some of these challenges. The technical challenges include the variation in construction systems, and the quality of construction for these buildings. It also includes energy modelling challenges such as selecting relevant weather data, and defining the patterns of using electricity for the different functions. The financial challenges include the subsidized price for electricity, the cost estimation for various energy conservation methods, and the payback for installing local renewable energy sources. Finally, the paper suggests a path for research activities to address these challenges and to develop the guidelines.
  • Publication
    Connecting Water Resources across Political Borders: A Pearl River Delta Special Ecological Area
    (CUBE srl., 2017) Carlow, Jason; Valin, Ivan; Al, Stefan
    Situated between several interdependent political and economic zones of southern China's Pearl River Delta, the Pearl River Delta Special Ecological Area (PRD SEA) project explores the possibility that regional administrative boundaries could be softened and redrawn along ecological boundaries. With the advent of global sea level rise and its impact on the fragile fresh water ecology and huge population of the Pearl River Delta, the project proposes novel ways to share fresh water and wastewater across political zones to better administer and profit from the distribution of water resources. Climate change, urbanization, and pollution from industrial and agricultural development threaten the steady supply of fresh water to the Pearl River Delta and its cities, while population growth in the region only increases demand. At the same time, Hong Kong, Macau and Shenzhen's increasing economic, political and cultural interdependency presents the possibility to tackle these challenges holistically. Layering a regional water resource infrastructure onto existing and new industrial, residential, agricultural and transportation armatures would transcend borders and create new economic markets through ecologically sustainable practices.
  • Publication
    Linear Domesticity: The Hong Kong Single Occupancy Strip
    (University of Cambridge, Department of Architecture, 2015) Carlow, Jason
    The Hong Kong Single Occupancy Strip (HK:SOS) project is a response to a growing housing crisis in Hong Kong, in which the domestic environments of the future are becoming more unaffordable and less habitable. In reaction to the increasing cost and shrinking size of Hong Kong housing units, the HK:SOS project explores the challenges and limitations of living in minimally sized spaces by producing a linear apartment for a single individual. By packing life's quotidian activities into an impossibly thin strip, the project pushes the design of a domestic environment to a spatial extreme.
  • Publication
    Shipping Complexity: Parametric Design for Remote Communities
    (Springer, 2013) Carlow, Jason; Crolla, Kristof
    This paper presents a system for design and construction of a parametrically designed, structural shell for remote communities. It explains how, through the use of various digital software platforms, a single-layer, structural shell is designed and optimized and subsequently how a series of customized joints can be output for direct digital fabrication. As the customization is focused primary in the joints of the structure, standard dimension, locally sourced structural members can be used. By embedding assembly information onto the physical joints, the system has the capacity to simplify the construction of complex shell structures by workers with basic construction skills. Flat-packed joints can be shipped to remote sites without heavy structural members thereby reducing transportation costs and the overall embodied energy. By lowering cost and simplifying construction of large span structures, the project is intend-ed to extend the benefits of digitally driven design to rural, remote or under-privileged communities.
  • Publication
    Al Jissir: Abu Dhabi
    (2017-05) Ahmed, Ali; Aslaminezhad, Atousa; Alenezi, Fajer; Pizarro, Rafael
  • Publication
    Project Final Report
    (2016-05) Alkandari, Areej; Shublaq, Inshirah; El Shaarani, Israa; Razzaz, Joud; Hamid, Lamees; Pizarro, Rafael
  • Publication
    The Garden in the Desert: Revitalization of Al Ain's Civic Center
    (2016-12) El Shaarani, Israa; Hamid, Lamees; Pizarro, Rafael
  • Publication
    Al Salam Community
    (2017-05) Ezzat, Ahmed; Fares, Hatem; Layth, Shahad; Pizarro, Rafael
  • Publication
    A Master Planned Fareej Community
    (2016-12) Shublaq, Inshirah; Pizarro, Rafael
  • Publication
    Al Ain Civic Center Revitalisation Plan
    (2016-05) Habis, Doaa; Thomas, Emanuel; Al Sayed, Maha; Mondal, Manali; Alamasi, Mohamed; Al Ashram, Mohamed; Alghanim, Rawan Y.; Pizarro, Rafael
  • Publication
    ALAin Civic Center: Masterplan
    (2017-01-31) Alkandari, Areej; Razzaz, Joud; Pizarro, Rafael
  • Publication
    Merging green infrastructure with the design of public open spaces: A brief literature review
    (Universitätsverlag der Technischen Universität Berlin, 2011) Pizarro, Rafael
    The advent of new green infrastructure systems (decentralized, small-scaled facilities and spaces to produce energy, food, water, recycle wastewater, and dispose of organic waste based on renewable energy sources) offers the potential to transform the types of uses, landscapes and meanings of traditional urban public spaces. In cities around the world, the merging of green infrastructure and public spaces are generating a new typology of spaces (see figures 1 to 5). Yet, while such spaces are on the rise everywhere, little academic attention has been given to this new public spatial typology. No academic articles and less than a handful of books in the English literature are devoted to explore the merging of green infrastructure with the design of urban public open space. Even specialized journals that combine landscape design with urbanism give a cursive treatment to the role of green infrastructure systems in shaping urban form (see for example Topos 2010a, 2010b, 2009). This vacuum in the literature is surprising given that the benefits of providing ecosystem services in the middle of cities with no risks to human health may herald new and exciting typologies of public and semi-public space. This chapter calls for a renewed research-based examination of the future of public spaces as a result of their new potentials for providing cities with ecosystems services, new urban space typologies, and new knowledge on spatial design.
  • Publication
    Design standards for Muslim prayer facilities within public buildings
    (Architectural Research Centers Consortium (ARCC), 2009) Mokhtar, Ahmed
    The construction boom in the Arabian Gulf region has resulted in an inflow of consultants from around the world. Most have little or no experience of the particular requirements of the residents of the region, who are predominantly Muslim. One of these requirements is to have prayer facilities in public buildings to accommodate practicing Muslims who pray five times a day. The design requirements of such facilities are described only vaguely in commonly-used books on architecture design standards. The result is that inadequate design of such facilities in many projects causes discomfort to users. This paper describes an effort by an academic to support the profession with recommended standards for the design of prayer facilities. It covers not only the basic functional requirements of a prayer facility but also other issues such as fire protection and the relationship with supporting amenities such as ablution space. The research uses several methods to derive the recommended design standards. It draws from those few standards that already exist for the design standards of mosques and adapts them to prayer facilities within public buildings. It capitalizes on the author's experience as a space user who also has analytical capabilities in architecture design. Hence it studies well-designed spaces, identifies their strengths and incorporates them into the recommendations. It also studies poorly-designed spaces, identifies their weaknesses and recommends their avoidance. The purpose of the paper is to trigger more discussion on the design standards of such critical spaces in a region where there is a large population of users. The intention is to change the long-established practices of the many local and international consultants who design prayer facilities on an ad-hoc basis.
  • Publication
    Glass Selection for High-Rise Residential Buildings in the United Arab Emirates based on Life Cycle Cost Analysis
    (Elsevier, 2014) Mokhtar, Ahmed; Tibi, Ghaith
    The architect's decision to select a glass type for a high rise building has significant impact on both the initial and the running cost of a building. This is particularly the case with many of the new buildings that have a high window-to- wall ratio (WWR). While several competing factors impact the architect's decision, this study supports such a decision for buildings in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by focusing on the relationship between the glass thermal characteristics and its cost. At this stage of the study, it uses a typical 30 story residential building with a WWR of 50% and a north-south orientation. An energy simulation modelling tool is used to provide data on the impact of different types of glass on the cooling load and hence the energy consumption. The cost and thermal properties of used glass types are those that actually exist in the market of the UAE. The study considers the different energy price structure in different parts of the country. Using both the simple payback period and the life cycle cost reduction techniques, optimal glass thermal properties are identified.
  • Publication
    Comparison of Energy Efficiency Strategies for Mosques in the United Arab Emirates
    (American Society of Civil Engineers, 2015) Mokhtar, Ahmed
    As public buildings that are typically financed by charities, mosques are commonly designed, built, and operated using very limited resources. Hence, failure to design energy efficient mosques either affects occupants' thermal comfort or re-orients the limited resources from other important activities to achieve that comfort. This paper documents part of an on-going study to determine the best allocation of limited financial resources to reach the most feasible energy saving in mosques in the United Arab Emirates. At this stage of the study, energy modeling is used to compare the impact of using various energy efficiency strategies on the cooling load. The results show the importance of controlling infiltration. They also show the value of insulating the walls and roof. However, a significant reduction in cooling load is achieved by splitting the mosque into two zones of operation. A similar result is demonstrated by using fans along with the air conditioning set at a higher temperature.
  • Publication
    Defining an Architectural Design Strategy for Energy Performance-A Systematic Approach for Students
    (American Society of Civil Engineers, 2012) Mokhtar, Ahmed
    Managing the energy performance of a building should start from the pre-conceptual design phase. Architects at this phase need to analyze the nature of the site environment, the nature of the building, and the comfort requirements of the occupants. An accurate analysis of these elements helps them formulate a design strategy for optimizing energy performance. However, this requires good understanding of the energy behavior of buildings. Such understanding optimally starts at the undergraduate architecture education. This paper presents a systematic approach to construct such understanding through a required course in an architectural curriculum. The paper explains the subjects covered in the course for a student to grasp the fundamentals of analyzing a project from an energy performance point of view. It also explains how to help students manipulate environmental forces and create a building's form that supports optimizing its energy performance. Finally, it discusses the common difficulties to propagate this systematic approach through the rest of the curriculum.
  • Publication
    Architectural Design Standards for Muslims Prayer Facilities in Airports
    (WIT Press, 2010) Mokhtar, Ahmed
    Increasingly, airports around the world are becoming hubs for the coexistence of different cultures. Therefore, they need to include facilities that can accommodate, as far as possible, the needs of passengers from various backgrounds. Among these are prayer facilities for people of different faiths. This paper focuses on the design and operational requirements for Muslim prayer facilities. Due to the nature of Muslim prayer patterns, airports that expect to serve Muslim passengers need to have prayer facilities of which the design and operating systems are adequate. Such facilities remove the necessity of Muslims having to pray in public areas in airports and performing ablution in public restrooms. If facilities dedicated to Muslim use are unavailable, the performance of these acts in public places may not only render those who perform them unable to concentrate, but also raise the curiosity of others or make them uncomfortable. The paper firstly describes the need for prayer facilities and the pattern of their use. It then defines the architectural and operational requirements, including location in the airport, the components of the prayer space and supporting elements such as ablution stations. The paper functions as a reference for designers and operators of airports particularly in areas with large Muslim populations, such as the Middle East, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, the Pacific Rim, Central Asia and Europe.