Architectural design and aesthetics of Zero Emission Buildings: an analysis of perceived architectural qualities in the ZEB Living LAB in Trondheim.
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Technological development of building components for energy efficiency and renewable energy generation has made it possible to conceive buildings able to produce more energy than they actually consume. Zero Emission Buildings – ZEB - are based on the assumption that the surplus of energy produced by integrated energy systems could compensate their own environmental impact in a life cycle perspective. Beside their simple aesthetics, ZEBs are often the result of complex architectural design processes where morphology and construction are optimized, through the use of advanced simulation tools, towards optimal environmental performance and maximum energy efficiency. Architects assume in this context the role of hubs, collecting the complex flow of information provided by the different experts involved throughout the design process, and synthesizing it into a whole. The ZEB Living Lab was designed in order to be representative, for dimension and construction, of a regular Norwegian detached house. Its aesthetic is the result of a complex multidisciplinary design process where students, researchers and industry partners collaborated in the design of an energy positive solar powered house. Its concept was conceived as an internal competition within the MSc program in Sustainable Architecture and later developed at the ZEB research centre at NTNU. The Living Lab has been equipped with a data acquisition system able to monitor environmental performance and energy flow through the building. Today it is used as a laboratory for action research on users’ interaction with state of the art technologies for carbon neutrality. In this paper, architectural qualities of the Living Lab, determined on the basis of both numerical analyses and qualitative parameters, will be discussed in relation to both feedbacks provided by different users and collected data.