Introduction to Building Technology >> Content Detail



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Subject Overview

The course aims at providing a fundamental understanding of the physics related to buildings and to propose an overview of the various issues that have to be adequately combined to offer the occupants a physical, functional and psychological well-being. Students will be guided through the different components, constraints and systems of a work of architecture. These will be examined both independently and in the manner in which they interact and affect one another.

It is intended as a transfer course, applying calculations in pure science and mathematics to the realm of building technology. Design alternatives and issues will be presented from various standpoints, including response to climate, construction methods and materials, heat and air flow, thermal comfort and insulation, lighting and acoustics.

Learning Objectives

The course serves both as an introduction to the physical processes lying behind the design of a building's envelope, interior and equipment, and as an initiation for a proper integration of technology in architecture.


Class participation5%
Homework assignments (5% each)35%
In-class quizzes (15% each)30%
Design project30%

Homework assignments include problem sets and field studies. There will be no final exam.

The design project includes thermal, lighting and acoustic assessments of an existing building as well as an analysis of its construction method. The buildings are selected at the beginning of the term by the students in teams of 2. Short written reports are due for each analysis.


There is one textbook for this course:

Amazon logo Szokolay, Steven. Introduction to Architectural Science: The Basis of Sustainable Design. Burlington, MA: Architectural Press, 2004. ISBN: 9780750658492.

Further reading in conjunction with the course will be from:

Amazon logo Deplazes, Andrea. Constructing Architecture. Basel, Switzerland: Birkhäuser, 2006. ISBN: 9783764371890.

Amazon logo Ching, Francis D. K., and Cassandra Adams. Building Construction Illustrated. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 2000. ISBN: 9780471358985.

Amazon logo Allen, Edward, and David Swoboda. How Buildings Work: The Natural Order of Architecture. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2005. ISBN: 9780195161984.

Amazon logo Allen, Edward, and Joseph Iano. Fundamentals of Building Construction: Materials and Methods. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 2003. ISBN: 9780471219033.

Amazon logo Lechner, Norbert. Heating, Cooling, Lighting: Design Methods for Architects. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 2000. ISBN: 9780471241430.

Recommended Citation

For any use or distribution of these materials, please cite as follows:

Marilyne Andersen, course materials for 4.401 Introduction to Building Technology, Spring 2006. MIT OpenCourseWare (, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Downloaded on [DD Month YYYY].


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