PLEA 2009


École d'architecture
Faculté d'aménagement,
d'architecture et des arts visuels

Université Laval
Québec, Canada G1K 7P4
Groupe de recherche en ambiances physiques



































































































Architecture Energy and the Children's Perspective


  PLEA Junior [français]

A house for Helios and Skotos
HEAT: A solar oven for Helios’ outdoor picnics
LIGHT: A skylight for Skotos’ workshop
PLEA junior Oral Presentation

Architecture, Energy and the Children’s Perspective

PLEA 2009 local organizers love kids…
Aren’t they the occupants of tomorrow’s low carbon society?

Accompanying children and teenagers were invited to engage in intellectual as well as hands-on low-tech ‘scientific’ activities supervised by GRAP grads. Results of these sessions were presented at the the Gala Dinner.
These activities were scheduled on Monday afternoon, June 22nd (13:30-17:00) and Tuesday morning, June 23rd (8:30-12:00) and relied on our sunny exterior conditions. Older children were welcome to bring their own cameras to record these live experiments! More particularly, PLEAjunior activities were designed to design and test scale models.

In architecture, the sun provides LIGHT and HEAT, two forms of energy that are essential for the occupants. The sun rhythms our lives according to its seasonal and daily cycles. These cycles are determined by the complex geometry of sun patterns. Activities therefore propose an introduction to sunlighting patterns in passive and low energy architecture.



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Our team of leading experts in passive low energy presenting the four typologies of solar ovens that were experimented in the HEAT activity.


A house for Helios and Skotos

Helios and Skotos are building a house and its outdoor extensions for their family and friends. Imagine their daily activities at different periods of the year…
-What do they like to do inside in summer? in winter?
Try to provide a variety of spaces that offer exposure to the sun in winter to keep people warm, and shadow protection for hot summer days.

The GRAP (Groupe de Recherche en Ambiances Physiques), Laval University, has developed this activity for school children, teenagers, and more recently for architecture students. This version proposes more versatility for interior-exterior environmental adaptability. For these experiments, we worked with heliodons provided in Brown and De Kay’s book entitled « Sun, wind and light ».


Studies of shadow patterns using a heliodon.

Claude showing how to use the heliodon. Not only children were interested in the instructions…


HEAT: A solar oven for Helios’ outdoor picnics

The sun can provide enough heat to keep us warm, but also to cook meals. Helios is organizing a party, and to save energy, his friends decided to build a solar oven with readily available materials.
We have designed four typologies of solar ovens, which were assembled by our teams. Temperatures were recorded simultaneously with thermometers while marsmallows were melting with graham cookies and chocolate. Participants were asked to bet on the most efficient configuration(s) while ensuring proper exposure to sunlighting. Infrared camera was used to record the performance of this zero-carbon appliance. A similar activity had been tested with architecture students enrolled in the compulsory course “Architecture and Environment”, Laval University. This version is adapted from a model by Renewable Energy, Canada.

Thermal images of solar ovens showing that the children were hot !


Performance Graphs of solar ovens.

Preparing the « smores » that will be « cooked » in the ovens.


LIGHT: A skylight for Skotos’ workshop

Inspired by Helios’s friends and their unplugged oven, Skotos decided to save even more energy by taking advantage of daylighting. His workshop is too dark and gloomy with its single tiny window. With a few changes, he might just get the light he needs to be happier and even enjoy an occasional view to look at the sky.

Digital photos recorded the daily and seasonal changing atmospheres of Skotos’ workshop. This activity is issued from an exercise developed through the elective second year design studio “Daylighting and architectural ambiances”, for architecture students at Laval University. The Kruger Pavilion (refer to architectural visits of the social program), a wood engineering research pavilion on which the GRAP was environmental consultant, is related to theme of this exercise.


Examples of daylighting strategies that were used for the creation of the space.


PLEA junior Oral Presentation

PLEA junior participants were given the privilege to expose results of their workshops to a larger audience at the Gala Dinner. The presentation was very entertaining, as you may notice in the photo gallery. We would like to thank all participants of these activities. For those who could not come, you can take a look at the slides of the presentation that was prepared and presented by the PLEA junior team. 

Download PLEA-Junior2009 Presentation