- Low energy urban block: Morphology and planning guidelines    click here to open paper content1159 kb
by    Sarkar, Arunava | module_b@yahoo.com   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
This paper addresses a lack of resolution of planning mechanism at the block level by suggesting the ‘Solar Envelope Concept’ as an urban design guidance which optimises the urban block towards a low carbon or even a Zero carbon development.
This paper revisits the current notion of urban planning in the context of energy crisis and Climate change. Today Cities are striving to adopt a sustainable road map to charter a direction towards a low carbon future. The planning mechanism has been trying to reinvent a recipe for success over the last decade to reflect such change. While the broader agenda has been achieved urban planning policies tend to lose resolution beyond the urban block level.

At a macro level, the traditional planning instruments like urban density and land use are successful and in fact, the most appropriate tools to approach a low carbon future. However this approach does not work at the urban block level where there is a definitive need of innovative design guidance to generate low energy urban forms.
The ‘Solar Envelope Concept’ (Knowles, 1981, MIT) which links energy with urban form is a more appropriate tool at the urban block level. As a strategy it can be utilised to design parts of building, a group of buildings, a city block or even a part of a city where the morphological structure is guided by access to solar energy. The solar envelope shapes the urban form to increase its photovoltaic potential thereby not only reducing primary energy demand but also increasing its capability of generating electricity.
As urban design guidance, it optimises the urban form towards a low carbon or even a Zero carbon development. This concept should be integrated with planning policy as guidance at the urban block level to control and shape sporadic architectural developments which are quite often energy intensive.
Various theoretical models for testing the photovoltaic capability of such urban structures are being developed. The case example of an urban block in Tel Aviv, Israel illustrates this developmental model and will be discussed as part of this paper.
Urban Block,Morphology,Urban Design
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