• 1 Activities

  • 28.Oct
  • Energy Accounts: Designing the Future, January 23-24, 2014
  • Energy is too abstract. It provides a common measurement for vastly different kinds of capabilities, and so requires plans, images, narratives, and other kinds of accounts to make it useful for policy and design. Energy accounts take many forms, from data-driven resource projections to heat or air flow simulations in buildings to images of future [...]

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  • 10.Oct
  • Architecture and Energy: Influence of Climate and Region
  • Architecture and Energy: Influence of Climate and Region
    Buildings are not sustainable, neither are cars or shoes or smartphones, they can only be more-or-less efficient in their consumption of resources and so moderate the environmental effects of human activities. The smallest meaningful unit of sustainability is probably the city-state, or the city and its surrounding region, [...]

  • 10.Oct
  • Architecture and Energy: Videos
  • Videos of the Architecture and Energy symposium are now available.
    Vimeo:  http://vimeo.com/album/1824487

  • 2 Projects

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  • 28.Oct
  • Architecture and Energy: Performance and Design
  • Just Published:

    Architecture and Energy: Performance and Design (London: Routledge, 2013)

  • 28.Oct
  • Architecture and Energy (Again)
  • Introduction from: William W. Braham & Dan Willis, Architecture and Energy: Performance and Design (London: Routledge, 2013)
    Energy is an abstract concept. Formalized in the nineteenth century for the calculations of thermodynamics, it is a largely metaphorical term in everyday usage, where it can represent everything from personal vitality to national wealth. The [...]

  • 28.Oct
  • Household Power: How Much is Enough?
  • ABSTRACT: High-performance building design is a technique for maximizing useful power,
    for extracting more work from the same amount of energy-a prime goal of engineering .
    Yet the fact that most individual households seek to maintain and enhance acquired levels
    of power is rarely considered. By expanding the subject from houses to households,
    the question of performance is focused [...]

  • 3 Ecology

  • 28.Oct
  • Waste and Dirt: Notes on the Architecture of Compost
  • Eating is messy. It is a fact of life-and
    even of not-quite-life- that every act of
    consumption produces waste. Even the most thoroughgoingvegan
    consuming raw food right from the plant can
    only extract so much value from food and will later leave
    a little pile of waste, somewhere. It is even messier when
    we consider the parts of the plant that [...]

  • 28.Oct
  • Waste, Work, and Worth
  • For most of human history, people could be divided into two classes: those who carried their daily water, and an elite who had someone else carry it for them. Water is quite heavy; approximately 8 pounds per gallon and moving it takes work. As a result, it is little surprise that people who have to [...]

  • 10.Aug
  • Re(de)fining Net Zero Energy: Renewable Emergy Balance in Environmental Building Design
  • a b s t r a c t
    The notion that raw materials for building construction are plentiful and can be extracted “at will” from
    Earth’s geobiosphere, and that these materials do not undergo any degradation or related deterioration
    in performance while in use is alarming and entirely inaccurate. For these reasons, a particular building,
    like an organism or [...]

  • 4 Technology

  • 28.Oct
  • Environmental Building Design: Forms of Emergy
  • The proposition that self-organization for maximum power could offer criteria for environmental building design is compelling, but what forms of building does this indicate? The use of emergy analysis overcomes the discounting of environmental energies, but the literature on emergy and building design suggest two quite different scales of objectives that might be considered. The [...]

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  • 14.Sep
  • Clothes, Shelter, Personal Conditioning?
  • In the history of technology, buildings can be viewed as direct descendants of clothing, as elaborate devices for personal protection (and personal expression). In a lineage diagram they would have developed from the coverings of plants or skins, and then in Semper’s view, the development of the first fabricated coverings, textiles of one kind or [...]

  • 02.Sep
  • Ecology, Technology, and Design
  • My work draws on theories of ecological design and on the history and philosophy of technology to examine the complex interaction between the built and natural environments. To rethink ecological design at the beginning of the twenty-first century means reconsidering the strong claims made about technology – utopian and dystopian – through the twentieth century, [...]

  • 5 Design

  • 28.Oct
  • The Century of Modern Color in Architecture
  • Color is usually a secondary aspect of architecture, but
    through the 19th and early 20th centuries it became an
    explicit issue of debate, inspired by the experiments of
    scientists and fueled by the close interaction among
    the artistic and architectural avant-gardes. Through
    that period, discussions about color were integral to
    the formation of a modern architecture, reaching a
    point of crisis and [...]

  • 10.Aug
  • Color. Power. Velocity
  • The colors of twenty-first­–century cities are largely determined by the competition among consumer products and commercially produced coatings and finishes, which vie for recognition in ever more visually saturated environments. Not that cities haven’t always been colorful. In a contribution to the architectural color disputes of the nineteenth century, Gottfried Semper cited a description of [...]

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  • 06.Dec
  • Malcolm Wells, 1926-2009
  • Malcolm Wells, the original prophet of underground or earth-sheltered architecture, died on November 27, 2009.
    I still remember reading about his architectural office in Cherry Hill in the early 1970s, a startlingly light filled room beneath a meadow that restored the suburban site to its natural condition.
    That ethic became the basis of his gentle architecture, for [...]


This site collects my lectures, writings, and especially new essays on ecology, technology, and design.

I am director of the certificate program in Ecological Architecture in the Department of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania and on the Executive Committee of the interdisciplinary program in Integrated Product Design (IPD), jointly offered with the School of Engineering and Applied Science. My interests are in the intersection between these areas, their convergence with the use of complex, dynamic systems. I am also Interim Chair of the Department of Architecture.

207 Meyerson Hall School of Design University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 19104

215 898 5728 brahamw@design.upenn.edu

Site Design

This site uses the WordPress theme 'Futurosity Magazine' by Robert Ellis (originally at Upstart Blogger, now at Futurosity), which I first encountered on brettsteele.net. I was somewhat shocked to discover that the site was a blog, and it made me realize that when the posting pace of a blog was adjusted, slowed down in this case, the different speed produced a different kind of publication. .


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