Visual exploration for assessing design variants


Decisions taken at early phases of architectural design have a significant effect on the planning steps for the entire lifetime of the project as well as the performance of the building throughout its lifecycle. However, the architect today almost exclusively uses his know-how for evaluating and comparing design variants. But then the architect as the designer is indeed no expert in various fields of analysis and simulations needed for evaluating a design alternative.

This part project focuses on finding new ways to facilitate the use of analytical and simulation tools during the important early phases of conceptual building design, where the digital models are partially incomplete. The necessary enrichment and proper detailing of the design model could be achieved through dialogue-based interaction concepts with analytical and simulation tools through adaptive detailing strategies. The focus of this part project (TP3) is twofold, one to establish a generic dialog-based interface to various simulation tools, and the other to develop methods for visual exploration and easy to understand evaluations of design variants based on simulation results.


In order to achieve a simulation-based assessment for the meaningful evaluation of design variants, certain data with a definite depth of information and reliability are required for the calculations and analysis. Based on a digital building model, essential information can be determined and used for the simulation. The requirements depend on the chosen analysis method, the necessary detailing and the desired result quality (level of accuracy). If the available depth of information is not sufficient for a particular simulation, the simulation model can request or suggest further details. The responses from the simulations must be prepared and visualised in a transparent and comprehensible way.


Adaptive Minimized Computer-Readable Communication Protocol based on BIM

A large portion of the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry still deals with conventional methods to exchange design information. The growing use of building information models is promising, but even the most recent developments and practices still rely heavily on human-readable protocols and issue management systems. Considering the potential of schematized computer-readable communications to be analyzed and used for future references and case-based reasoning systems, this part project proposed a novel minimized communication protocol based on BIM, which aims to introduce a computer-readable, yet adaptive universal method which works on schematized information exchange requirements (templates) for different use cases.


Interactions and visual representations in the feedback process

Considering the visualization as an essential part of communication and exploration, in order to ensure good collaboration between different actors, various visualization techniques are tested in order to properly show the outcome of the model checking to the architect indicating the shortcomings of his design model. 


Variant evaluation and comparison play a significant role in supporting the decision-making process of the architect during the early stages of building design. Among the users’ wishes, stated by interviewees, was to include the history of design in the form of a tree or graph including all variants (created by the architect) and options (suggested by the domain-expert to fulfill information deficits in design model) together with so called variant-cards. The function of a variant-card is to recap and review all the essential info related to each design variant into a card.