Informing sustainable building design: The importance of visualizing technical information and quantifying architectural decisions

Mathilde Landgren*, Signe Skovmand Jakobsen, Birthe Wohlenberg, Lotte Bjerregaard Jensen

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Purpose - In recent decades there has been a focus on reducing the overall emissions from the built environment, which increases the complexity of the building design process. More specialized knowledge, a greater common understanding and more cooperation between the stakeholders are required. Interdisciplinary design teams need simple and intuitive means of communication. Architects and engineers are starting to increase their focus on improving interdisciplinary communication, but it is often unclear how to do so. The purpose of this paper is to define the impact of visually communicating engineering knowledge to architects in an interdisciplinary design team and to define how quantifying architectural design decisions have an impact during the early phases of sustainable building design. Design/methodology/approach - This work is based on a study of extensive project materials consisting of presentations, reports, simulation results and case studies. The material is made available by one of the largest European Engineering Consultancies and by a large architectural office in the field of sustainable architecture in Denmark. The project material is used for mapping communication concepts from practice.
    Findings - It is demonstrated that visual communication by engineers increases the level of technical knowledge in the design decisions made by architects. This is essential in order to reach the goal of designing buildings with low environmental impact. Conversely, quantification of architectural quality improved the engineer's acceptance of the architects' proposals. Originality/value - This paper produces new knowledge through the case study processes performed. The main points are presented as clearly as possible; however, it should be stressed that it is only the top of the iceberg. In all, 17 extensive case studies design processes were performed with various design teams by the 3 authors of the paper Mathilde, Birthe and Signe. The companies that provided the framework for the cases are leading in Europe within sustainability in the built environment, and in the case of Sweco also in regards to size (number of employees). Data are thus first hand and developed by the researchers and authors of this paper, with explicit consent from the industry partners involved as well as assoc. Professor Lotte B. Jensen Technical University of Denmark (DTU). This material is in the DTU servers and is in the PhD dissertation by Mathilde Landgren (successful defence was in January 2019). The observations and reflection is presented in selected significant case examples. The methods are descriped in detail, and if further information on method is required a more in depth description is found in Mathilde Landgrens PhD Dissertation. There is a lack in existing literature of the effect of visualisation in interdisciplinary design teams and though the literature (e.g. guidelines) of integrated design is extensive, there is not much published on this essential part of an integrated design process.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalArchnet-IJAR : International Journal of Architectural Research
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)194-203
    Number of pages10
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


    • Case study
    • Visual communication


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