Vectorworks and FlowDesigner: Open BIM Collaboration with Airflow Analysis

2013/09/26

Two years ago, our distributor in Japan, A&A Co. Ltd., shared a case study that demonstrated a high-value BIM workflow between Vectorworks Architect and FlowDesigner, a 3D simulation and analysis software for airflow, temperature, and contamination distribution developed by Advanced Knowledge Laboratory. Recently, we ran an updated test of that connection and received positive results. We’re pleased to present a summary of those findings below.

Airflow Analysis Simulation

While previously used only in university and industrial design labs, airflow analysis simulation technology, also known as Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), has been commercialized and is now a simple and easy tool for everyone through FlowDesigner software. Beyond building designs, it is now available for wider use by architectural design, HVAC engineering, and construction companies.

The Vectorworks BIM model before IFC export.

A&A’s 2011 case study involved creating an architectural model of an office building integrated with a site, or terrain, model. By using Vectorworks Architect and its powerful IFC data functionality in conjunction with the buildingSMART open standard IFC file format, A&A was able to easily incorporate important semantic building element data and physical attributes with the other contextual building and topographical elements on the site model.

Fast forward to 2013, and an architect can now directly import an IFC file into FlowDesigner to use as analysis model data. Here is a figure of a model right after importing the IFC file:

The model imported into FlowDesigner. Image courtesy of Advanced Knowledge Laboratory.

FlowDesigner has functions to make importing IFC files a smooth process, such as repairing transparent surfaces and editing details of objects such as color, opacity, or show/hide lines.

Within FlowDesigner, it is easy to configure analysis conditions, even without extensive technical knowledge of CFD simulation. The following image shows the dialog to configure speed and direction of external wind flow:

Image courtesy of Advanced Knowledge Laboratory.

This test allowed us  to see airflow distribution for a city block, wind flow in a “streamline” view, and even a model of air resistance due to the grove of trees shown in the model. It took only 10 minutes for the whole process, from importing the IFC file to outputting these results.

Streamline view of windflow. Image courtesy of Advanced Knowledge Laboratory.

Using high-resolution settings, which take more computing time, users can analyze airflow inside of buildings, as well.

Illustrations of airflow inside the building. Image courtesy of Advanced Knowledge Laboratory.

Other types of analysis, such as integral solar radiation, are also available.

For further information on Vectorworks Architect, visit our product page. To learn more about Flow Designer, visit the Advanced Knowledge Laboratory website.

 

Previous post:

Next post: