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Successful building design relies on an interdisciplinary approach, but it is only in more recent years that there has been a better inter-relationship between architecture and engineering. The education of the architect has been based around the design studio in university and practice over a period of seven years. Engineers generally have followed three year, or more recently four year degree programmes, and concentrated on the fundamentals and principles of physics, mechanical and electrical engineering science. Design has been a postgraduate activity in engineering schools which is in stark contrast to architectural schools where design is endemic from the first year in university. As a result graduates in the various disciplines comprising the built environment have had little common perspectives or visions, and have to meet each other for the first time on real jobs after graduation having had a different educational base. There have been some attempts to mix architecture and engineering education but with limited success. The professional institutions as well as industry also place many constraints on programmes at undergraduate level.
Intelligent buildings are about building management, space management and business management. One recent definition is:
An intelligent building is a dynamic and responsive architecture that provides every occupant with productive, cost effective and environmentally approved conditions through a continuous interaction amongst its four basic elements: places (fabric, structure, facilities); processes (automation, control systems); people (services, users) and management (maintenance, performance in use) and the inter-relationship between them.
There are other definitions but they all emphasise integration, responsiveness, flexibility, process and management in business, places and people. Reading University offers master’s level programme in Intelligent Buildings emphasises these issues.
What do we mean by intelligence? One view is that intelligence is considered to be an innate general cognitive ability underlying all process of conventional reasoning. Piaget defines intelligence not as an attribute, but as a complex hierarchy of information processing skills, underlying an adaptive equilibrium between the individual and their environment. There are many polemic issues raised about intelligence but Piaget has defined something that can be extended to understanding how people work or live in buildings and interact with their environment, the building fabric and the external environment.
Is an igloo an intelligent building? For the Eskimo it is, in the sense that its shape and structure moderated the climatic impact; the internal layout and use take advantage of the temperature gradient, but it would not have responded well in less extreme or more variable conditions. The new Helicon building in London attempts to cater for retailing and office use, whilst offering responsive comfort and energy measures for occupants and staff. The Atrium in the Kajima Corporation in Tokyo attempts to provide an environment which respects the iterative cycle of human mental needs for freshness, concentration and relaxation in order to work effectively. Intelligent buildings can be simple or technologically sophisticated depending on the circumstances.
What technologies are going to be significant for an intelligent building? New materials; embedded sensors technology; nanotechnology; information technology and communications; photovoltaics; robotics; refined design, construction and facilities management processes will all be significant in shaping new futures.
The principal aim of the programme is to provide advanced knowledge of intelligent buildings and hence educate those who will commission, design and operate such buildings. It will include building owners and developers, architects, scientists, engineers and facilities managers who already work in the construction and property industry, or those who are considering entering the construction industry.
Skills as well as knowledge and understanding will be emphasised. The principal objectives are:
To provide an interdisciplinary approach to understanding intelligent buildings
To provide a modem and up to date account of the technologies involved, with a projection of likely developments in the next ten to twenty years for buildings and their occupants.
To consider the economic, social, as well as technical issues which underpin an effective decision-making approach for the design, construction and management processes
To introduce the latest technical innovations applicable to buildings.
To study the balance of high and low technology needed in order to design, construct and maintain buildings which are responsive to human requirements; consume minimum energy; emit minimum CO2; are healthy and enhance the well-being of building occupants.
The architectural, engineering, scientific and human issues related to intelligent buildings and the design of their components and systems are universal. The need for healthy, sustainable and responsive environments is national and international, and covers all types of buildings around the world. Knowledge about intelligent buildings needs to be disseminated throughout the building industry. Thus consultants, contractors, manufacturers and facilities managers, as well as building tenants, will derive benefit from this programme, or in some cases, particular modules of the programme.
The construction industry is very fragmented at all levels including the education and training provisions. Various disciplines from which graduates emerge are architecture, structural engineering, building services engineering, surveying, and building engineering. In addition there are interaction with urban planners. The interfaces between architecture and engineering are not well represented at degree level but in this programme interdisciplinary approach is adopted.
There is also a growing need for continuing professional development programmes (CPD). Most of the major institutions are making CPD a mandatory requirement for continuing corporate membership.
Industrial & Academic Involvement
The programme has been developed in conjunction with the Intelligent Buildings Group and Dytecna Ltd. There are over 70 leading professional practitioners from international industrial organisations actively contribute to the programme. It is an accredited CPD providers for Royal Institute of British Architect (RIBA) and Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) and member of Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA)
Programme is offered by the Reading’s School of Construction Management and Engineering. As well as academics from the School, 6 other Schools and Departments across the university contribute to the programme. These are Systems Engineering, Computer Science, Cybernetics, Psychology and Meteorology. In addition to academics from Reading, there are many visiting lecturers from other leading universities participates in teaching.
The programme consists of modules of study, each covering a different aspect of intelligent buildings, and extends over five year period. Each delegate studies 8 modules, 5 of which are core modules and the remaining modules are electives. The core modules have been designed to give a basic foundation of knowledge necessary for understanding about approaches and attitudes in the design, construction and operation of intelligent buildings. Elective modules may be chosen to reflect the more specific personal or professional interest or area of work.
The Modules are:
Concepts, Strategy & Management (Core)
Building Systems, Architecture & People (Core)
IT and Communications Systems (Core)
Engineering Intelligence into Buildings (Core)
Financial Analysis & Investment Appraisal (Core)
Facilities Management (Elective)
Design Management & Briefing (Elective)
Principles of Project Management (Elective)
Sustainable Design, Construction and Operation (Elective)
IT Project Management & Planning (Elective)
Applied Informatics (Elective)
Research Methods (Elective)
The book Intelligent Buildings: Design, Management & Operation published by Thomas Telford in 2004 is based on the course and covers design, management and sustainability issues. The book covers 14 chapters and is being translated into Chinese.
Candidates should normally hold a relevant first degree but those with industrial experience may enter with equivalent professional qualifications.
Modules are open for study by non-degree delegates who wish to complete CPD. There is no assessment for CPD.
Comprehensive information on modules, dates, research, articles and contact information is available on the University of Reading’s website www.reading.ac.uk/ib.
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