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.
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:
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:
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.
Using high-resolution settings, which take more computing time, users can analyze airflow inside of buildings, as well.
Other types of analysis, such as integral solar radiation, are also available.