3d-printed energy models with Mr.Comfy & DIVA4Rhino

By | December 18, 2013

In the past classes hosted at the TU Berlin’s 3d lab, heavy use was made of rapid prototyping technology to create artifacts that show more than geometry only. Since architects think in models as well as drawings, it appeared to make sense to directly embed simulation data in physically manipulable ones, instead of just working with projective on-screen representations. I’ve had the great fortune to see many of the old daylight models featured on the DIVA frontpage, however the irradiation models shown here, created with DIVA4Grasshopper annual irradiation data, were never properly mentioned in any publication. You might notice some blue models hiding between the ones with a more familiar color range; those were 3d-printed within the same value scale as their sister models in different climate zones (we’ve got Iran, Sweden and Florida), so naturally the absolute irradiation they receive is less in some instances. Yes, the annual sum of solar gains is that much less in Northern Sweden than it is in Florida- one would, of course, assume so, yet to see it in color and physical 3d (practically better than IMAX) brings the point home somewhat more. Additional class details are given in the 2013 DIVA day presentation, describing the design development of two projects in Sweden and Iran; some musings on why such models are neat tools in a design process are further presented in my 2013 CAADRIA paper. Apart from being design aids, such models of course help communicating simulation results to others; especially when welcoming new students, curiosity about what they mean is instantaneous.

3d-printed urban irradiation models   3d-printed urban irradiation models; Sweden (Östersund), US (Hollywood, Florida, USA) and Iran (Yazd) sites*

Another artefact only briefly shown in the CAADRIA 2013 presentation (and not even in the paper) is somewhat of a departure from what had been done before; it’s a sectional model that shows facade irradiation in grayscale (the darker, the greater its intensity), combined with UDI100-2000 lux daylight metrics in the interior spaces. It was… somewhat difficult to build, quite unwieldy to handle and therefore an experiment not repeated, though as a demonstration object served its purpose well. It would be interesting to do something like it again, but with mapped thermal zone metrics instead of daylight- then one would really understand why certain spaces might suffer from their thermal plight (or perform well). But were mapped thermal metrics ever printed in a model? Sure, continue reading down below..

Hybrid, rapid-prototyped irradiation and daylight model3d-printed irradiation (facade) and daylight (UDI100-2000, zone-mapped) sectional model, Hashtgerd (Iran). Model, design & simulations: Piotr Jardzioch, Jakub Sobiczewski**

The last rapid-prototyped model fabricated in the now finished integrations project is a special one, since it for the first time shows the relative heating energy use of individual zones in a directly output physical model- before this, it had always only been the climate-based daylight distribution or irradiation metrics. Mr.Comfy made it possible to create analogous mappings for thermal data. The built design is a house in Southern Australia, modeled and simulated by Sophie Barker to discover which spaces might need the most thermal conditioning; I’ll post a more complete project description and a class summary in early 2014. What’s visible at first glance is that spaces with greater solar gains of course need less heating energy (it’s the Southern Hemisphere, so North is South, which I need to remind myself often enough) ; when random people handle such a model for the first time, it’s always astonishing to me how quickly they “get it”. A nice way to wrap up the TU project, for sure- off to new shores.

3d-printed energy modelRapid-prototyped model showing relative zone heating energy consumption;  Waratah Bay (Australia). Model & simulations: Sophie Barker

*thanks to all the past urban housing design class participants for producing such lovely irradiation models: Or Alexander Pearl, Dimitra Gkougkoudi, Piotr Jardzioch, Tereza Měřičková, Anastasia Vitusevych, Wolfgang Fischer, Rafael Kölmel, Caspar Kollmeyer, William George-Scott Sutcliffe

**special thanks to Jeffrey Tietze for having lots of patience with modeling support on this one