EOC engineers develop 3D heat transfer analysis tool


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Eckersley O’Callaghan’s Digital Design Group has developed a powerful new tool, which has the potential to change the way that facades are designed. Engineers Alessandro Baldini and Sam Gregson presented the tool, along with their findings, at the Powerskin Conference, part of BAU 2019 in Munich. 

Dubbed ‘Walrus’, the new tool combines the attributes of Rhino 3D modelling software, the parametric design plug-in Grasshopper, and Finite Element Analysis software Strand7. It can assist engineers and architects by generating 3D thermal simulations of complex building interfaces during the early phases of a project, encouraging greater design exploration. 

“At the moment, most 3D heat simulation software packages are used to test solutions that have already been engineered,” Alessandro explains. “It’s a sort of reactive approach, assessing a design for compliance, rather than informing a design’s development.”

“The current modelling tools are also quite limited in terms of the geometry that they can assess,” says Sam. “They base their analysis on multiple 2D slices of a structure, which are then extruded into something approaching the true 3D form. This means elements that curve or taper are very difficult, if not impossible, to model. There isn’t really any analysis software available that can deal effectively with the trend towards increasingly complex and organic architectural forms.” 

“Walrus allows thermal modelling to be applied parametrically, giving the flexibility to tune key parameters without the need to remodel the 3D geometry for each design iteration,” says Alessandro. “It gives designers greater freedom to be creative, while saving them a huge amount of time.” 

The tool has been tested against validation benchmarks. You can see the results, along with a detailed description of the tool’s methodology, workflow and proposed benefits in the Powerskin Conference Proceedings.