Designing and developing buildings and open spaces not only serves the people inhabiting them, it also influences the ecological and socio-cultural systems in their broader surroundings.
Teaching and research aims to impart and consolidate the knowledge required to establish sustainable architecture and habitats at the interface between structural, natural and human sciences, and to drive this knowledge forward with an inter- and trans-disciplinary approach.
Climate and User-Friendly Building
Climatic and physiographic framework conditions, and their rapid change, are of prime importance to the varying quality characteristics of buildings and their surrounding biospheres as well as their users’ health and comfort. The Center for Environmental Sensitivity’s activities contribute to raising architects’ and building contractors’ awareness to the importance of these factors, and to defining the appropriate planning solutions. Current developments in the construction industry, forecasts for the future, traditional building strategies and inspecting vernacular buildings with respect to their climate control properties in a changed climatic and physiographic environment are equally addressed. Interdisciplinary work is encouraged by linking environmental aspects with economic and socio-cultural influencing factors, which subsequently generates new research ideas.
Ecology and Close-to-Nature Green Space Design
The combination of theoretical knowledge and practical experience in the different relationship systems climate – soil – plants – people – environment is at the center of continuing education for landscape and garden designers in the university course “Ecological Garden and Green Space Management.” Within the framework of this advanced training program and topic-related research projects, the focus is on ecological, economic and socially sustainable planning as well as the management of gardens, green spaces and open spaces.
Considering the physiological and (perceptual) psychological needs of the users is decisive for the success of long-term, sustainable planning and erection of buildings and open spaces as well as the development of building products. Researching and clarifying complex human-environment-building interactions and tying knowledge established in the building sector with human scientific know-how is a core field of activity at the Centre for Environmental Sensitivity.
The use of lightweight textile structures not only creates aesthetic and identity-creating architecture, it also creates new concepts and possibilities for the permanent and temporary use of rooms and properties. The university course "Lightweight Membrane Structure" in particular provides the know-how required for the development of these flexible constructions with regard to the use of materials, processing technologies and constructive requirements.
Social space based research in built environment (SPACE)
At national level, SPACE research cluster focuses on issues of residential integration in housing and in an international context, SPACE examines the consequences of rapid urbanization processes in the megacities of the Global South, especially for residents of informal settlements.
Research, Teaching, Practice
The research activities at the Centre for Environmental Sensitivity enable the constant expansion of knowledge with regard to location-appropriate, sustainable construction. The knowledge gained in this way is subsequently incorporated into the department's teaching program. The research focuses on strategies for the adaptation of buildings and settlement areas to climate change, the assessment of ecosystem services and green infrastructure, questions relating to citizen participation and the participation of residents in planning processes, economic analyses and the calculation of life cycle costs.
In the Department of Building and Environment’s light laboratory, the influence of solar light and solar radiation on building geometry and planning decisions regarding façade and interior design is impressively illustrated. Design concepts in the sense of daylight- and climate-optimized design are tested or brought about here. This important and rare research facility is available to both experts from the construction industry and interested laypersons.