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Perception and performance assessment in bio-based architecture

Summary of the Project

The trend for constructing sustainable buildings and increasing of environmental awareness observed nowadays leads to the resurgence of bio-architecture as an alternative to other construction techniques. The unique properties and the natural beauty of bio-based materials make these products desirable for various applications in construction, both for structural and not structural uses. While the low carbon footprint during extraction and production of bio-based materials is one of the main arguments motivating their choice as sustainable alternatives to conventional building materials, their performance over time (and therefore their sustainability on a long run) is sometimes called into question. For these materials to have a significant role in the built environment and in a new bio-economy, it is important to understand how performance of bio-based building materials is perceived by specifiers and final users and how costumer’s perception relates to actualperformance measures. The choice of building materials is culture dependent and it varies with social context. Material selections are also legally limited by the building codes, but also by the type and size of elements. The perception of aesthetical quality and related awareness of “beauty” changed over time and will continue to change in the future. The same concept applies to other attributes, such as “safety” or “health”. Nevertheless, there are some universal attributes that are perceived as attractive for the built environment, including proper use of natural resources in structures. The ARCHI-BIO project will identify current trends and the role of building materials in bio-based economy. The recent tendencies in bio-based architecture in USA and Europe will be compared and evaluated. The bio-based building materials are certainly attractive resources for modern construction sector, however the confidence regarding their proper selection, use and maintenance should rely on profound know-how and best practices. Reliable and validated service life performance models are definitely indispensable to convince architects, developers and investors for expansive use of building biomaterials. Therefore, the ARCHI-BIO project will investigate perception and performance of biomaterials in architecture by development of alternative methods combining ICT tools with psychological assessment.

Relevance of the results expected from research project

WP1: Development of testing tools

  • Identification and testing of the standard tools for customers’ perception measurement;
  • Identification and use of innovative tools incorporating human physiological responses;
  • Development of software for customers testing combining ICT tools with physiological responses.

WP2: Trials testing and data evaluation

  • Perception of natural and modified wood;
  • Perception of materials’ change in time;
  • Measurement of materials’ change in time;
  • Comparison of customers’ perception from investigated societies;
  • Performance metrics adapted to the operation and maintenance of buildings;
  • Evaluation of postoccupancy satisfaction and wellbeing;
  • Comparison of perceived and actual performance.

WP3: Dissemination and exploitation of results

The InnoRenew CoE has an interdisciplinary focus through the combination of disciplines such as wood science and ICT which generates value from this cross-innovation approach. Restorative environmental and ergonomic design (REED) is one of the key research areas at InnoRenew CoE. The other research line is dedicated to development of innovative modification processes that enable the use of wood beyond its traditional applications. The research regarding impact of sustainable buildings that promote human health, environmental, and social impacts, with an emphasis on natural material use is therefore a central focus of InnoRenew CoE. The ARCHI-BIO project proposal is a direct continuation of current research activities of dr. Sandak. As a leader of the BIO4ever project she has conducted broad research directed towards the understanding and modelling of service life performance of several bio-based building materials. The Wood Science and Engineering (WSE) Department at the Oregon State University (OSU) College of Forestry leads a multidisciplinary university program focused on the science, technology, design, engineering and business practices that help society sustainably meet our needs for bio-based materials. Mariapaola Riggio, Architect with a Ph.D. in Engineering, has joined WSE as an Assistant professor in 2015. She is Courtesy Faculty at the School of Design, University of Oregon and at the College of Engineering, OSU. The focus of her research and instructional programs is to develop a body of knowledge on the quality and performance of bio-based materials in the built environment, considering both tangible, measurable parameters as well as intangible, human-related factors. She leads the monitoring project and post-occupancy evaluation of the “Living Lab” in the new Forest Science Complex.

The ARCHI-BIO project is a great opportunity to perform cross sectorial investigations and reinforce collaboration between OSU and InnoRenew CoE. The new Forest Science Complex at OSU will serve as a full-scale laboratory (Living Lab) enabling field testing, monitoring and sharing of data on the in-service performance of a range of innovative bio-based materials. OSU will bring competences regarding design with bio-based material and performance monitoring and assessment. InnoRenew CoE will share the know-how regarding bio based materials, service life performance and human perception. The knowledge acquired during the ARCHI-BIO project, in a form of reports, recommendations, technologies and software tools will be offered to academic and industrial partners. Young researchers will be guided by experienced staff in order to acquire knowledge regarding experimental design, laboratory work routine, data evaluation and results propagation.