HUSH on con­vey­ing a build­ing’s net zero ethos in in­stal­la­tions

How HUSH de­signed a se­ries of ex­pe­ri­en­tial in­stal­la­tions that com­mu­ni­cate the net zero en­ergy sta­tus of United Ther­a­peu­tics’ sus­tain­able new HQ

Computer Arts - - CONTENTS -

BRIEF AND INI­TIAL CON­CEPTS David Schwarz, HUSH

I would love to say that this project came about through some grand con­nec­tion be­tween United Ther­a­peu­tics’ lead­er­ship and ours, but we were en­gaged af­ter a rea­son­ably tra­di­tional pre­sen­ta­tion process. How­ever, the project it­self was any­thing but ortho­dox. United Ther­a­peu­tics wanted us to cre­ate em­pa­thy and knowl­edge be­tween a build­ing and its in­hab­i­tants. The build­ing in ques­tion was Unisphere, the com­pany’s new HQ in Sil­ver Springs, Mary­land, which is a net zero fa­cil­ity. This means it cre­ates and con­sumes its own en­ergy, and its yearly net car­bon con­sump­tion is zero.

We im­me­di­ately saw the para­dox of do­ing some­thing cre­ative, tech­nol­ogy-driven and ex­pe­ri­en­tial with the sub­ject mat­ter be­ing about sus­tain­abil­ity and ef­fi­cient en­ergy use. Af­ter all, what­ever we cre­ated would need to use some of the build­ing’s en­ergy. It was a won­der­ful cre­ative con­straint, and it in­spired us to look at nat­u­ral sys­tems around sun­light, solog­ra­phy, the ebb and flow of Earth forces and so on.

Join­ing the project long be­fore the build­ing’s com­ple­tion, we had an open brief to in­te­grate ex­pe­ri­en­tial el­e­ments wher­ever they’d be most ef­fec­tive. Con­sult­ing with Unisphere’s ar­chi­tec­tural de­sign­ers at EwingCole, we re­searched ar­chi­tec­tural sus­tain­abil­ity, net zero en­gi­neer­ing, build­ing sys­tems, modes and en­ergy sys­tems. At the same time we con­sid­ered how space would be used through­out the struc­ture and what the re­quire­ments of the em­ploy­ees who work there would be.

Our ap­proach was to cre­ate a sys­tem of in­ter­con­nected ex­pe­ri­ences to com­mu­ni­cate the build­ing’s sus­tain­abil­ity at var­i­ous lev­els — from large, emo­tional, sen­so­rial, bi­nary ex­pres­sions of its net zero sta­tus all the way to very de­tailed in­ter­ac­tive vi­su­al­i­sa­tions of en­ergy per­for­mance, pre­dic­tive mod­el­ing and en­gi­neer­ing sys­tems. Guests and em­ploy­ees can tap into this in­for­ma­tion at the scale that is ap­pro­pri­ate for them at any given time.

The feed­back we re­ceived was very pos­i­tive and Mar­tine Roth­blatt, chair­per­son of United

Ther­a­peu­tics, loved our idea that Unisphere would ex­press it­self like a liv­ing or­gan­ism. This pushed us fur­ther to­wards re­lat­ing the nat­u­ral ebb and flow of en­ergy in our vi­su­al­i­sa­tions.

DE­SIGN AND BUILD Gra­ham Hill, HUSH

Early on, we ex­plored var­i­ous ma­te­ri­als, forms and con­cepts. We knew that what we cre­ated had to be con­nected closely to na­ture, to health and to breath­ing — heart and lungs-re­lated biotech is a ma­jor part of United Ther­a­peu­tics’ of­fer­ing. As such, we wanted to sub­tly hint to­wards those themes with each de­ci­sion we made, from the ma­te­ri­als we used to the pace of the an­i­ma­tions to the choice of ty­pog­ra­phy.

From the be­gin­ning, we ap­proached this project from a con­tent-first per­spec­tive. Once we un­der­stood how the build­ing’s sys­tems worked, we needed to trans­late that into a lan­guage that would be ac­ces­si­ble to our tar­get au­di­ence. Each in­stal­la­tion would serve a par­tic­u­lar pur­pose.

For the build­ing’s main atrium, we de­vel­oped the En­ergy Dial. It was de­signed to be an ev­er­p­re­sent, sim­ple re­minder of the build­ing. Then you have the En­ergy Dash­board, an in­ter­ac­tive con­sole that uses ar­chi­tec­tural glass run­ning through the build­ing’s main hall­way, al­lows oc­cu­pants to ex­plore each sys­tem’s per­for­mance at any given time. And fi­nally, il­lus­tra­tions and an­i­ma­tions are strate­gi­cally lo­cated through­out Unisphere to de­liver sim­ple, bite-sized mes­sages around spe­cific func­tions.

01

01 The En­ergy Dial has 24 mir­rored points re­flect­ing light at vary­ing in­ten­si­ties. The light is an­i­mated to ex­pand or con­tract depend­ing on whether the build­ing has a net en­ergy sur­plus or not.

03 The En­ergy Dial is fully re­spon­sive to the build­ing’s en­ergy sta­tus and on dis­play in the main atrium. 03

02 Early on in the project, HUSH were en­gaged with the build­ing’s ar­chi­tects in or­der to un­der­stand how it gen­er­ates en­ergy and its self-ad­just­ing sys­tems. 02

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