Open students projects

The list of currently open projects proposals can be found below. Please click on the corresponding links to find more information about each project.

All listed semester projects are eligible for the IDEAS minor as ENAC semester projects.


Daylight usage of typical Swiss buildings

So far in the Swiss building practice, the use of daylighting plays a rather minor role since densification and energy driven regulations are dominating and are setting boundaries, which are often undermining the usage of daylight. This situation may change with a new European daylight standard that will be implemented in Switzerland around mid-2019.

The goal of this project is to evaluate the daylight performance of typical Swiss buildings. This evaluation should answer the question to what extend current design practice in Switzerland addresses daylighting and to make proposals to improve it.


Applying saliency models in daylit architectural scenes: an exploratory study

Architects commonly rely on their intuition and subjective assessment of visual interest to design spaces. Daylight plays a major role in this process. Yet, until recently there has been little research trying to capture and quantify what visual interest means in terms of daylit architectural composition from a viewer’s perspective. Siobhan Rockcastle addressed this topic in her PhD. Her work brought two large rendering databases with associated subjective evaluation and head-tracking data, as well as a model that can be used to predict contrast and visual interest in daylit architectural scenes. Saliency maps are theoretical predictions of human’s viewing patterns. These maps and underlying models have been developed over the past 20 years as a result of increasing capabilities in eye-tracking technologies and advances in vision, neurosciences and computer sciences. Based on the observation of human eye’s movement and fixations, researchers noticed that the eye tend to exhibit certain patterns. Human subjects testing and post-processing of gaze information supported the development of models, commonly used to describe visual interest. While saliency research is fascinating, it remains unclear how much we can rely the current models to understand and aid architectural design.

The objective of this project is to compare advances in saliency and architectural research on visual interests. The architectural datasets and publicly available saliency models offer us a unique opportunity to discover convergences and divergences, and bridge the current knowledge gap on the applicability of saliency models for architectural daylit spaces.


Impact of occupant control and aesthetics on perceived Indoor Environmental Quality

Post Occupancy Evaluations (POE) is defined as the process of evaluating buildings in a systematic manner after they have been built and occupied for some time. Focusing on building’s occupants and their needs, this method enables us to understand the perception of indoor environment, and this to support productivity and wellbeing. POE usually encompasses occupant surveys which allows to gather subjective evaluation in regard to how users perceive their environment.

Informed with data from POE conducted in four Minergie buildings in Switzerland, the objective of this project is to determine what features of the indoor environment are the most determinant to achieve high indoor comfort. In particular students will be looking at comfort aspects (thermal, visual, acoustical, air quality), perceived aesthetics (e.g., enjoyment of view, façade design) and perceived control (e.g., over temperature, lighting, noise, management responsiveness), and how these two types of features can influence both the overall comfort and the distinct IEQ categories.


Exploring the Global Thermal Comfort Database

The ASHRAE Global Thermal Comfort Database is an online, open-source database that includes 107,583 objective indoor climatic observations with accompanying “right-here-right-now” subjective evaluations by the building occupants who were exposed to them. This database has been released in late 2018. It is a unique resource to understand how occupant perceive thermal conditions around them.

This project will focus on the exploration and analysis of this newly developed thermal comfort database. The student will first use the interactive visualization tool to familiarize with the data and determine variables that most influence thermal comfort perception. As a second step, students will download the full dataset, further investigate criteria identified in step 1 and critically reflect on thermal comfort assumptions as commonly adopted in the standards.