Niloufar Emami, Ph.D., LEED GA, is an assistant professor of architecture and holds the A. Hays Town Professorship at Louisiana State University. She is a researcher, educator, and designer looking for gaps, intersections, and overlaps between architecture and multiple other disciplines, using computational tools and fabrication techniques to provide creative yet performing solutions.
Q: What are your research interests?
A: My dissertation research was situated at the intersection of design, structural performance, and daylighting availability in perforated concrete shell structures using computational design and simulation tools. One of the most significant contributions of my research is its methodological approach, which uses a formalized framework for categorizing design parameters in the structural and daylighting disciplines and then identifying overlapping design parameters. This design method, presented as a roadmap, is the fundamental new component arising from the research.
Q: What are you working on currently?
A: My current research projects stem from my dissertation work but are taking new directions: I am researching the convergence of material, matter and energy in innovative architectural practices. In particular, I focus on solids, liquids, and air as the three key types of matter that shape the built environment and both affect and are affected by design.
Q: Can you elaborate on these three topics?
- Concrete is the solid form of matter with which I experiment. Using computational design and digital fabrication techniques, I explore how interlocking concrete blocks with dramatic curvatures can be designed and fabricated for building envelopes. Study of their material characteristics, structural performance, and fabrication techniques form the basis of this applied research study.
- Water is the liquid form of matter that I investigate. While floating architecture is being explored by my students at the Option Studio, in my research, I speculate how the buoyant force that is applied by water to the floating objects can be employed by architects to design architectural dwellings on the water. This futuristic research aims to redefine the relationship between architecture and water in flood-prone contexts such as Louisiana.
- Wind is the third form of matter that I explore. This research goes hand-in-hand with the interlocking concrete block project and aims to study ventilation through blocks in hot and humid climates such as Louisiana. Computational fluid dynamic (CFD) analysis will be conducted to explore the airflow within each block as well as through the aggregation of multiple blocks. This computational research project aims to find the best-performing design alternatives to be used in facades.
Q: Outside of the School of Architecture, who are you working with on campus?
A: In addition, I am forming relationships with the Robotics Lab and the BIM Cave lab within the School of Engineering as well as the Department of Psychology within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, to explore potential interdisciplinary collaborative research studies.
Q: What was your first impression of LSU?
A: It’s much warmer than Michigan! Happy to be here.
Niloufar holds a Ph.D. in Architecture with a major in Building Technology from the University of Michigan, a post-professional Master of Science in Architecture from the University of Michigan, a Master of Architecture from Iran University of Science and Technology.