Challenged with designing a research center that met Passive House standards. The class was given the choice to locate their research center in a site of their choice. I chose a site on the Baghdad University campus. In the warm desert environment, the two biggest environmental challenges are to block or filter the sun and to provide cooled ventilation. My strategy was to provide indoor/outdoor environments that would help pre-condition the air coming into the building and dramatically filter the light coming in through the building skin.
The building plan was oriented to capture and control the wind from the prevalent wind direction with the help of a wind-tunnel diagramming program. Two “wind walls” with controllable louvers would allow the interior courtyard to get a steady flow of fresh air through these walls, or be closed completely in a wind event. These wind walls also contained misting systems for the evaporative cooling benefits.
In addition to the thermally controlled interior courtyard, a double-skin facade was used on the north and east facades and a light-filtering screen was used on the west and south facades. While the desert environment probably didn’t allow for a completely passive structure, these systems would address the two biggest issues.