Armadillo and Onion inspired sleep-out design brief: Research, climate, weather, ideation and freehand sketching- Sustainable Architecture.

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Book details:

5115 Words. 45 size A4 pages (font size = Pt 14). Includes many images, sketches, SketchUp designs,  video links, and more.

Design and Visual Communication (Secondary School students):

This resource contains some guidelines and hints for solving the ARMADILLO AND ONION INSPIRED SLEEPOUT BRIEF. The focus is on developing sustainable architectural techniques, sustainability practice, and in-depth exploration of sustainable features and functions.  YouTube tutorials are available for the different areas covered in this resource, namely:  Research, climate and weather, geolocation, shadows and shading, passive solar, ideation, freehand sketching, Sketch-up modelling, biomimetics, and freehand sketching.

Keywords & Keyphrases:

Sustainability, architecture, sleep-out, harvesting energy from sun & wind, Collecting rainwater, freehand sketching, SketchUpMake, Design and Visual Communication, fitness for purpose, collaboration, learning strategies, curriculum alignment, sustainable practice, creativity, innovation, pedagogical content knowledge (PCK), biomimetics, passive solar, passive ventilation, onion shape & form, armadillo shape & form, assessment, competition,collecting rainwater, photovoltaic panels, wind turbines, solar thermal panel, green roof,  NCEA Level 1, New Zealand, armadillo, onion, triple glazed windows, engineering, louvers, heatsink, deciduous trees, thermal mass

Table of Contents

Researching the armadillo and onion inspired sleep-out design brief. Page 8

Step 1: Doing research. Page 8

Armadillo (scientific facts, shape & form). Page 8

Onion (scientific facts, shape & form). Page 9

Architectural sustainable features and functions (passive solar, passive ventilation, wind turbines, water tanks, louvres, roof overhangs, triple glazed windows, insulation, photovoltaic panels, solar thermal panel, heatsink, clerestory, stack, green roof, living wall, and more). 10

What is passive solar design?. 10

Biomimetics: Explore how to use nature to inform design ideas. 11

Generate design ideas and the ideation process: Explore strategies, methods, and techniques to come up with new and unique solutions to the design brief. 12

Ideation: Using a starfish, shell and feather to solve an architectural design brief. 13

Movement: Explore the benefits of including movement to your design solutions. For example a moving roof (sliding). The roof could open during winter to allow sunlight into the building (passive solar). Consider building materials that are good heatsinks, like concrete, bricks, and concrete blocks. 14

Aesthetics: Though focusing on scientific solutions the aesthetics (‘how beautiful the building’) should not be neglected! The challenge is to combine beauty and function! It is like being a scientist, an artist, a biologist, and sculpturer all at the same time! It will push the envelope and move students out of their comfort zones. Multi-layered thinking processes are to be developed. In other words, the students have to think of many aspects at the same time. Imagine a highly scientific rich building with state of the art technology which includes unique artistic features. Very challenging indeed. It is recommended that students explore the work of architects that think differently and who are able to apply a multi-layered approach to design problems. Gone are the days of conventional shape and forms and straightforward architecture. 14

Explore the building site: For example, take screenshots of the location (Google Earth & Google street view, and more). You can learn heaps from Google Maps, Google Earth, and Google Street view and so on.  Investigate the landscape, the vegetation, slope, access, the possible orientation of the building (geolocation), and more. 14

Investigate the climate, rainfall, wind speed, and sunny days: Finding charts/diagrams will provide the best information and data. Interpret this information and data available, to inform your design decisions regarding the size of the photovoltaic panels (sunny days), the amount/size of the wind turbines (direction & facing), and the annual rainfall (storage of water). The harvesting of the sun’s energy, harvesting and storage of rainwater, and harvesting wind energy to benefit the homeowner, should be maximised. Use the search words and a phrase like (Hamilton City, charts, New Zealand, weather, and climate): 15

New Zealand: North Island. 16

Building materials: Investigate the properties of the building materials chosen. For example, good heatsinks, which absorb and release of the heat of the sun during winter, assist in warming buildings without any additional cost to the owner (energy efficient). 21

Armadillo & Onion sleep-out ideation: 23

‘How To Think Like An Architect: Designing From Organic Form’ – by Barry Berkus: 23

Freehand sketches that illustrate the concept idea for the solution to the brief: 36


Armadillo and Onion inspired sleep-out. The situation, the brief and specifications for the design brief 41




Armadillo and Onion inspired sleep-out design brief

SITUATION: You are an architect who loves designing sleep-outs.  You recently became interested in sustainable architecture and biomimetics.  You have decided to investigate, explore, and research sustainable architectural practice.  You intend to implement the new knowledge, new skills, and new strategies, which you have learned into your sleep-out design brief.

BRIEF: Design and develop a sustainable solution for a new sleep-out at the back of your section or anywhere in the world. Implement some biomimetic ideas and principles to inform your design decisions and design ideas. Use the armadillo and onion as biomimetic inspiration.

SPECIFICATIONS: Total area=100 sq. m. In your layout include an open plan kitchen/dining/lounge area, a bathroom, and a bedroom. Include sustainable features, functions, and sustainable systems as far as possible. Illustrate how you have used biomimetic principles (‘ask nature how’) to inform your design ideas and concepts.

Above: Freehand sketch: Concept Armadillo and Onion inspired sleep-out. Credit W. van Zyl.


Above: SUMMER SEASON-Armadillo and Onion inspired sleep-out modelled in Sketch-up. See the shadows of the deciduous trees over the building during summer. Credit W van Zyl




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