Anderson Inge has been coming to Rural Studio since 2002, consulting with and enabling students to build significant community projects with innovative structures and materials. A Texas native, Anderson has worked at numerous firms in London before opening his own firm in 2017 to explore innovative structures. He has also held a variety of university teaching posts over the years.
The Shading Strategies workshop, taught by Anderson Inge, focused on different methods of shading, thermal comfort, and sun studies. The workshop concentrated on the Hale County Hospital Courtyard as a design exercise, which also served as an introduction to the project. However, the lessons learned by working through the challenges of shading the courtyard are able to be applied to any project. There are many ways to provide shade through the combination of structures and vegetation like trees and vines, and learning to design equally with both strategies was a major goal of the workshop.
The first step of the workshop was to research and gather the climate data, much of which needed to be done firsthand. Most of the historic data available online was not directly applicable to the specific microclimate created in the courtyard space—wind, temperature, humidity, and sun angles—nor does the data reflect recent trends in climate change and extreme weather events. Students learned how to conduct sun studies on the site and to use a SAD (sun angle device), which showed how sun struck the courtyard and informed the exploration of various shading methods. All these factors are needed to make design decisions, including any limitations. An important take-away was that there was no design that would allow the courtyard to be comfortable in all seasons, year-round. The courtyard would only be truly comfortable during the shoulder seasons. Design cannot solve every problem, but it can extend the use of the courtyard throughout the year.
The Shading Structures workshop added some valuable tools to the students’ design arsenal and underscored the importance of how climate conditions inform design decisions.