The Building Coder

Self-Organising Architecture, Voxel-Based Energy Analysis

I had an interesting chat last week with a group of students from the University of Augsburg.

The original question they raised was how to perform energy analysis on a bunch of autonomously assembled small building blocks, such as a colony of ants might put together.

The question is: how can the resulting small building blocks be converted to a valid Revit BIM that can be used for building performance analysis?

That led to the following topics:

BPA is now Insight360

Talking about building performance analysis, I just noticed that BPA has now become insight360.

With the release of Insight 360, the Autodesk Building Performance Analysis blog migrated to a new platform:

Self-Organising Construction and Architecture

The Augsburg university has the only chair in Germany researching Self-Organising Construction in the architectural realm.

They are also hosting the SASO 2016 conference, the 10th IEEE International Conference on Self-Adaptive and Self-Organizing Systems, University of Augsburg, Germany, September 12-16 2016.

Back to the Ants – Project Summary

Here is the project summary, first in German, followed by my feeble attempt at beating Google translate:

Innovationen in Software, Robotik und 3D-Druck rücken Selbstorganisation als Planungs- und Konstruktionsansatz in greifbare Nähe. Die Vorteile sind mannigfach und reichen von der automatischen Generierung einer Vielzahl von Designs über deren ideale Integration in die gebaute Umgebung, deren strukturelle und automatisierte Optimierung bis zur dynamischen Adaptivität über lange Zeiträume. Motiviert durch neuste Erkenntnisse aus der Natur über die Konstruktionsweisen sozialer Insekten, werden in diesem Projekt Softwareansätze aufgezeigt, wie man Selbstorganisation in den Designprozess von Architektur einfließen lassen kann. Die wissenschaftlichen Arbeiten des Hauptreferenten umfassen beispielsweise das Design und die Optimierung selbstorganisierender Softwareagenten und deren produzierte Artefakte. Ein entsprechender programmatischer Ansatz zur selbstorganisierten Konstruktion wird vorgestellt, der die API des Revit 2016 Softwareframeworks nutzt.

Innovations in software, robotics and 3D printing enable self-organization as a feasible planning and design approach with many advantages, ranging from the automatic generation of huge numbers of designs to their perfect integration into the built environment, their structural and automated optimization, all the way to dynamic adaptivity over long periods of time. Motivated by the latest findings from nature about the construction methods used by social insects, we demonstrate software approaches to incorporate self-organization in the architectural design process. The scientific work of the main speaker includes the design and optimization of self-organizing software agents and their produced artefacts. We present a corresponding programmatic approach to self-assembled construction using the Revit API.

That sounds pretty exciting to me.


Q & A

Here are the notes from the Q & A session we had in the conversation between Simon, Manuel, Sarah, Phil and Jeremy:

Two Different Energy Model Types

This question has come up repeatedly in the past, so it is worthwhile pointing out again.

By default, the energy analysis is performed on rooms or spaces and treats their boundaries as vertical.

This is inappropriate in buildings using free-form geometry.

Therefore, a second setting was introduced in Revit 2016, so that we now have two different Energy Model Types: surface versus voxel.

Calculations are based either on the 2D plan surface views or by filling the entire building volumes with voxels, little sugar cubes.

The two different options are selected by settings in the EnergyAnalysisDetailModelOptions to base calculations either on spatial elements – i.e., rooms and spaces, assuming vertical boundaries – or bounded by actual building elements – i.e., floors, walls and ceilings, which may be arbitrarily shaped.

For more detail, please refer to What's New in the Revit 2016 API, Energy Analysis and gbXML API changes:


Addendum – Advances in Architectural Geometry 2016

Talking about exciting computational generative architectural innovation, you should take a look at the wonderful, impressive, beautiful and exciting ETH Zürich Advances in Architectural Geometry 2016.

Here is its table of contents: