Keywords:total architecture, software development, design tool
During early project stages, design teams need to explore a wide range of possible envelope configurations in order to identify those that best address the project constraints and objectives.
Crucial aspects such as control of solar gains, use of blinds and renewable energy production are typically the subjects of extensive discussions among architects and façade, mechanical, electrical and PH engineers. Traditional methodologies used to inform the design on such matters are neither flexible nor time efficient, failing to meet the expectations of the team. Arup Solar is an innovative APP developed to overcome such inefficiencies and to provide a user-friendly way to aid the discussion between architects and engineers. The validated APP aims to investigate the relationships between envelope features (e.g. window to wall ratio, g values, etc.) and cooling strategies, as well as identify potential opportunities for renewable solar energy production. It allows for the exploration of a large number of design options instantaneously, visualizing results by mapping them on the 3D model of the building. The process of building any instance of the APP includes a first step where the NURBs modeler Rhino/Grasshopper is utilized to run a Radiance & DAYSIM solar analysis on any complex geometry. The resulting data (on each surface mesh) is then exported to the Unity gaming engine, where a set of pre-programmed features is automatically implemented and the graphic interface is created. The outcome is a stand-alone parametric application that can be potentially run on any device.