Senior Lecturer and CASE (Centre for Architecture and the Sustainable Environment) director, Dr Giridharan Renganathan, was invited to speak to the staff at the Faculty of Architecture, Karpagam University, Coimbatore, India.
His presentation titled, ‘Experimental approach to urban albedo calculation: methodological challenges’, outlined the ongoing EPSRC funded Urban Albedo research project at the Kent School of Architecture and Planning, and discussed challenges related to surveying and scaling, experimental model building, sourcing and installation of equipment, development of digital model, validation of digital model.
The presentation focused on measures taken within budgetary constraints to overcome the challenges and its implications. Dr Renganathan also discussed the challenges in integrating passive strategies in the context of climate change with undergraduate and postgraduate students.
In addition to the presentation at Karpagam University, Dr Giridharan Renganathan was also invited to deliver a lecture to postgraduate students and staff and the Department of Architecture, Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Madurai, India. The lecture titled, ‘Building resilience to overheating: a case study of Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge’, discussed the proposed advanced adaptive refurbishment options and their relative performance predicted against the existing internal conditions, energy demands and carbon dioxide emissions. The lecture highlighted that this may have more resilience in the current climate than expected, and that it will remain resilient into the 2030s. However, beyond 2050 some form of mechanical cooling may be needed. Dr Renganathan also highlighted that the problem could be more complex in hot and humid conditions such as in India, and the importance of developing context specific performance database for soft-landing measures.
Senior Lecturer and CASE director Giridharan Renganathan was invited to deliver a lecture to postgraduate students and staff at the Faculty of Architecture, University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. The lecture titled, ‘Research Methods for Performance Analysis’ discussed categorisation of research with a specific focus on architecture, premises and characterisation of qualitative and quantitative research, and research design with a focus on case study.
Dr Renganathan used examples from his research work on hospital performance studies in UK, urban heat island studies in Hong Kong and urban albedo studies for high latitude locations to highlight the methods and techniques, with a specific focus on surveying, monitoring, modelling, statistical analysis and experimental process. The talk concluded by highlighting the limitation of these techniques and possible way forward.
Former MArch student, Megan Catt, has published her paper, ‘The Reality of Wellbeing-Focused Design in Dementia Care – A Case Study of Acute Dementia Wards in the UK’ in the Health Environments Research and Design Journal (HERD), a USA based journal, supported by Kent School of Architecture’s Dr Giridharan Renganathan.
The paper studies the design of dementia wards in NHS hospitals, looking at wellbeing-focused design, an approach that considers the effects of the built environment on an occupant’s physical and psychological health. Dementia is a pressing health concern in the UK, with a high psychological care requirement. The potential for the built environment to reduce the impact of symptoms is significant, with an established body of research proving that by making even small adjustments to spatial design (with considerations for light, sound, quality of space, promoting social interaction and independence, maintaining privacy and dignity and triggering memories) improvements to patient health and care outcomes can be achieved, such as reducing falls, time spent in hospital, or blood pressure and stress. Design concepts for achieving these and other health improvements were analysed in the paper, and compiled into a framework of criteria that could be used to test for evidence of a ‘good’ dementia environment. The framework was used in several case studies, at wards which had recently undergone wellbeing-driven refurbishments. The observations, staff interviews, and testing against the framework, carried out during these visits highlighted successes and failures of the projects, showing where further progression is required in the creation of wards that passively assist health.
The research for this paper was originally undertaken for Megan’s MArch dissertation at KSA, where she looked at the design of wards for both dementia and maternity patients, two very different patient groups, each with specific psychological care needs. Since graduating in 2016, Megan has continued her research into the subject, focusing on design for dementia, with continued support from Giridharan Renganathan, who has helped me to develop the paper for publishing.
CASE member Dr Giridharan Renganathan won the 2016 Carter Bronze medal for most highly rated paper relating to application and development. Giridharan’s paper “A medium-rise 1970s maternity hospital in the east of England: Resilience and adaptation to climate change” was published in CIBSE’s technical journal Building Services Engineering Research & Technology, one of the leading, international peer-reviewed journals publishing original research relevant to today’s Built Environment. The paper was co-written with Prof. Alan Short from the University of Cambridge and Prof. Kevin Lomas from the University of Loughborough. It investigated the degree of overheating at the Rosie maternity unit of Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge where mothers, babies and staff can endure summer temperatures of over 30°C, along with what can be done to improve resilience at the 1983 facility.
Dr. Giridharan Renganathan has written a chapter on ‘Urban Climate Modelling: Challenges in the Tropics’ in the new book on Urban Climate Challenges in the Tropics, an area which has received little attention in the past. This chapter while highlighting the importance of climate modelling in the context of urban planning and design, presents both the energetics of urban tropics and its modelling. It also presents the readily available modelling options for tropics while discussing a fast changing area of research. In summary, the chapter deals with energy and mass exchange in urban areas, tropical climate and characteristics of urban morphology, modelling in the context of urban design, urban canopy layer modelling options, and parameterisation of critical urban variables for modelling.
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