Doctoral student earns his third AIA/AAF scholarship

Current research examines residential courtyards as mircoclimate generators

For the third consecutive year, Amr Bagneid, an architecture Ph.D. student at Texas A&M University, has received an American Institute of Architects/American Architectural Foundation Scholarship for Advanced Research.

The AIA/AAF scholarship supports projects by students who have already earned a professional degree. Bagneid, who has worked as an assistant lecturer at A&M, holds a Bachelor of Architectural Engineering from Cairo University, and a Master of Environmental Planning from Arizona State University. His current research focuses on residential courtyards as microclimate generators.

According to Bagneid, courtyards are known to demonstrate distinctive passive cooling performance in traditional courtyard houses. His project involves a case study of an indigenous multi-level urban courtyard house built around 1400 A.D. in Cairo, Egypt. His research includes field monitoring, wind tunnel testing, and developing a calibrated thermal simulation model for predicting the microclimate inside a courtyard.

This computer model will be used to analyze the courtyard microclimate of the case study house. By using a thermal simulation program combined with the new courtyard microclimate thermal model, Bagneid hopes to be able to determine methods for improving the thermal performance of courtyard house designs.

Bagneid’s project is one of the first to systematically investigate thermal mass as a common feature among traditional courtyard houses. Other published research on modern courtyard housing clusters, he said, is less comprehensive and fails to consider some aspects of efficient courtyard design such as thermal mass and air flow.

Ultimately, Bagneid said, he hopes to revive the use of urban courtyard housing clusters.

“Since Cairo, Egypt shares climatic seasons that are similar to many regions in the southern United States,” Bagneid said, “the courtyard's energy-efficiency potentials make it a promising alternative for sustainable architecture.”

The AIA/AAF Scholarship for Advanced Research is actually the fourth scholarship to acknowledge Bagneid’s work. In addition to two previous AIA/AAF scholarships, in 2001 Bagneid was presented with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-conditioning Engineers Graduate Grant-In-Aid.

Jeff Haberl, associate professor of architecture and associate director of Texas A&M’s Energy System Laboratory, is Bagneid’s Ph.D. committee chair.

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Entrance to Egyptian courtyard house.

Scale model of courtyard house used for wind tunnel testing.

Click images to enlarge.