Author : Lewis Armstrong

University : Glasgow School of Art

Status : Part II Dip. Arch, 2015

Title : The Thermoelectric City

My thesis is a speculative manifesto into how renewable technology and the city can be designed as a singular entity within a new urban typology.

I propose using Berlin as a testing site to design an imagined ‘Thermoelectric City’ completely self sufficient and that could theoretically be placed anywhere in the world.

Anticipating rising sea levels, this thesis premises a society that has embraced technology as a means of co-existing with the planets changing environment. Whilst global warming and rising sea levels are usually perceived as cataclysmic events, it is my interest as an architect to design a solution that will benefit the city, working with the bi-products of our current generation.

I have focused my design around the use of thermoelectric energy as a means to power the new city, with a double leaf mega-structure acting as an integrated power station exploiting human induced and natural changes in temperature. This technology is known and exists, but has not yet been envisaged in the urban scale.

Thermoelectric generators convert changes in heat across a material into electrical energy –  exploiting their natural resistance to a temperature change, in what is known as the Seabeck Effect.

The city will displace Berlin’s 3 million inhabitants into these vertical structures that are ordered into a grid in the new urban plan but the interior is seen as far more specific to each structures needs, with a variety of scales and architectures.


S//A : What’s the most important aspect of this project that we should be aware of?
Lewis Armstrong_ This thesis is a question, not an answer. The project was an exploration in learning to draw ideas that have no tangible language such as the human conscious.
My project is a speculative manifesto into how renewable technology and the city can be designed as a singular entity within a new urban typology.

S//A : What other fields outside of architecture interest you?
LA_ Landscaping - I think in practice landscape design is lost in contemporary architecture. The two disciplines have to be seen as a singular entity – designed in unison from the concept through to final construction detailing. No building plan should ever be drawn that does not describe the situation in which it is placed. I always begin my designs with the landscape design, bringing the local and city wide context into the site, and growing my architecture from there.
Also art and film have played an enormous role in my development as an architect. They have the ability to capture a moment or society with precision and detail. I like the selective nature of final pieces that allows the audience space for their own thoughts and interpretations.

S//A : Most important thing you learned in architecture school?
LA_ Have an idea and stick to it. You only get to do one thesis and at the end of it, you want to have authorship over that work.
Also forget about what you know and seek new philosophies and ways of thinking – if the idea is fresh to yourself then the outcome will be far more considered.

S//A : Describe your dream project
LA_ A modest dwelling located on a Scandinavian fjord, a place where the architecture and nature can be carved into and out of one another.