Thinking hands: A hands-on, pedagogical living lab approach to green building methods in hot arid regions

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Sustainability and environmental illiteracy is still common in architectural curricula. This may lead to further generations of architects who are unequipped for global sustainability goals. This paper discusses a living lab teaching experience which investigates the roles of learning by doing and hands-on building experimentation to root an understanding of sustainability in architectural education. The design studio focused on passive, low-cost and energy-efficient approaches suitable for a hot arid climate. The students were asked to design a refugee shelter prototype that is cost- and time-efficient with the least impact on the environment after demolition. The course teaching process also included invited guest speakers, field trips and a practical hands-on workshop for low-tech building techniques – all that can serve as a foundation for designing and building a full-scale physical model of their refugee shelter proposal. Thermal comfort and energy consumption for the design proposal was evaluated by simulation, and the physical implementation was evaluated by field monitoring. This paper outlines the design studio pedagogical experimental process and the resulting students’ projects. It will also show the various skills the students had acquir