Cloud based daylight simulations #1

Integrative design process has become an essential part of the sustainable architecture practice. There are increasing discussions of incorporating daylight, energy and other simulations and analysis in the early design phases to be able to design buildings that require significantly less energy compared to the buildings designed with a conventional workflow. Out of the simulations and analysis possible, daylight analysis is probably the easiest and also the most widely used analysis. Daylight is a key ingredient of sustainable architecture and has been used to shape buildings in an attempt to not only to provide visual comfort and reduce the dependence on artificial light, but also enhance the spatial quality of the spaces within the building.

Over time, with the advancement of technology and computing power, the daylight design of buildings has changed from purely intuitive to more tangible and quantifiable. From daylight factor, a metric developed in UK in 19th century to the more complicated and accurate metrics such as spatial daylight autonomy and glare etc., the modern day computing systems are able to calculate exactly how much light would be available at any given point in a space. These simulations provide meaningful data that can be used to inform the design for better. However, with more complicated simulations and hence large amounts of generated data, a twofold challenge comes up. First, the time to generate this data and second to visualize this data and incorporate it into the process to inform design. The latter is in some ways also directly related to the former, and the success of the integrated process lies in the fact that data has to be available within a timely manner.

To solve this, the latest technology of cloud computing can prove to be handy. Cloud computing essentially uses multiple computer servers located elsewhere in the world (we’ll not comment about the sustainability of this practice in itself) to perform more simulations and in less time. With increasing daylight modelling in most of our projects, we have been looking at different options of daylight analysis tools that exists and could be part of the pool of software that we use at LMN to design sustainable buildings.  In the next post(s), we’ll review two software/plug-ins, Lightstanza and Sefaira  that can perform daylight analysis in the cloud. What that means is that you no longer need to rely on having high-end expensive computers or spend endless number of hours waiting in anticipation of the results so as to incorporate them into the design process. Sefaira is already receiving good reviews from the industry in terms of its capabilities. Lightstanza on the other hand is relatively new but seems very promising in terms of its workflow, and outputs. We have been using both these software and tested both on few projects.  Come back and read our review of both these tool for cloud based daylight simulations.

I did some basic shoebox tests on both the software and also a comparison of these results with DIVA and Honeybee for validation. The results are very close and therefore selecting one tools will depend on the requirement than performance. The results of the tests are below:


Read Part 2