Calculating the position of the sun in the sky and estimating and mapping direct and diffuse solar radiation components on building surfaces are some of the starting points for producing a solar analysis.
However, to integrate solar considerations within the design process of building and city structures, architects, urban planners, municipalities, clients and building & city dwellers, all basically need even more specific analytical information. For example, considering the average and extreme of solar patterns and weather conditions in each location, the effectiveness & ineffectiveness of each architectural & urban element in regards to its orientation should be fully evaluated. This is a remarkably important issue to optimize and maximize the gains that can further be obtained from building skin and open spaces when data from different periods of time are considered (i.e. hourly, daily, annual and decadal data)
Above SOLARCHVISION Passive analysis does NOT introduce min & max air temperature or solar gains; but it is all about studying & knowing how to improve the solar-climatic response that associated with architectural design e.g. optimizing proportions of shading devices and window positions for each direction. The graph presents the annual analysis performed in Las Vegas climate and basically highlights the positive and negative design impacts for west and south orientations. As it can be read from the graph, for the west side (on the left), dense shading devices are suggested; however, dense shading devices are NOT suggested for the south facade (on the right). The blue areas simply indicates the best density for each side as well as the best location for positioning window areas on the building skin. In open spaces, the blue areas are more comfortable both in summer and winter periods thanks to being protected in cooling periods and receiving solar energy in heating periods. The red, orange and yellow areas on the other hand show undesirable impacts as a result of being exposed to the sun in summer and/or being in shade in winter.
One should always bear in mind a number of remarkable and long-term negative/positive impacts that can be produced as a result of a building’s deficient/intelligent form, orientation, layout and skin design. To allow and encourage such analyses, a probabilistic model titled SOLARCHVISION was first designed in 2005 and is now being developed further to make possible an effective use and application of weather data namely in the area of urban and architectural planning at various design stages, notably the early ones.
Carried through in collaboration with the researchers and technical departments of a number of universities and academic institutions (i.e. TU-Berlin, SBU-Tehran, RU-Toronto, IMS-Germany) as well as some professional firms in architectural/urban design, the SOLARCHVISION method is applied to help the planners in analyzing and rearranging different types of buildings and structures and also make it easier to integrate and take into account indoor and outdoor considerations.
Whereas a high percentage of energy consumption, pollution, urban heat island effect, climate change and global warming are just a few of the great challenges the human race and the biosphere of planet Earth are dealing with now and in the future, a thorough, integrated and local approach to passive and active solar design options can effectively help manage environmental impacts, demand responses and spatial qualities allowing as a result to fashion more efficient and sustainable buildings and cities.
Throughout the process of actively finding and developing ingenious & adaptive solutions in urban/architectural design as early as possible in any project, a solar-climatic approach can effectively improve many aspects including the potential and performance in terms of energy production, energy demand, daylight, health, comfort and safety for long periods of time. It also provides the added benefit that most of these architectural rearrangements and improvements do not necessarily increase the construction costs! Generating and sharing such a vision can effectively help architects, urban planners and clients make more appropriate and accurate decisions concerning energy and climate-related matters, areas that are now more important than ever to take into consideration.
A decade of SOLARCHVISION research on a variety of ancient/modern urban fabrics and structures in diverse climates around the world demonstrates and supports the view that architectural design and urban planning in each individual location can be improved when taking into account the constant path and variable effects of the sun.
A relation between positive and negative effects of the sun in diverse Tehran climate and desirable and undesirable developed spaces that can be discovered by the SOLARCHVISION spatial analysis
The public’s interpretation of “solar architecture” may still be, in many cases, limited to an installation of solar thermal collectors or photovoltaic panels on building roofs and facades. However an integrated and optimized use of such increasingly advanced technologies need a vast and deep knowledge in different areas of science which can only be handled by interdisciplinary work and collaboration among many environmental scientists and building planners/engineers.
Besides, a robust “solar architecture” approach incorporates all the complexities of architecture applied simultaneously on different scales.
On the other hand a general application of solar-climatic information in architecture is more effective when one discovers and appreciates how to look, plan and design from the sun’s perspective. As the direct and indirect effects of the sun on the environment are outstanding; direct and indirect impacts of the sun on both weather conditions as well as built environment should be studied more systematically.
As supposed by a famous English musician and astrophysicist, Brian May, “if we ever knew exactly where the light was coming from, getting there would be easy”. To get there, a planner always needs more than simply installing a modest tool like SOLARCHVISION. The planner also needs to know where, when, why and how to apply weather data efficiently in the decision making process, a method which is referred to here as “Solar-Climatic Vision”.
On this topic, a book titled “Intelligent Design using Solar‐Climatic Vision” was written in 2013-2014 by the developer of the SOLARCHVISION tool, Mojtaba Samimi, with the collaboration of Dr.-Ing. Farshad Nasrollahi at the Chair of Building Technology and Architectural Design of Berlin Institute of Technology (Technische Universität Berlin).
As the ninth volume of the Young Cities Research Paper Series, “Energy and Comfort Improvement in Architecture and Urban Planning using SOLARCHVISION” is described comprehensively towards the main objective of the Young Cities research project under the auspices of the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF). This objective was “Developing Energy-Efficient Urban Fabric” in growing megacities around the world (for more information about the Young Cities project, you can visit here: http://www.youngcities.org/).
In this book, after presenting fundamental diagrams representative of many cities around the world (e. g. the sun paths, solar radiation and temperature models in North America, Europe, Australia, East Asia and Iran), the role of an intelligent design for the building skin is described and analyzed in terms of finding and optimizing the interactions and benefits between interior and exterior spaces and environments. Besides studying the potential of solar energy at different surface orientations and inclinations in different locations and time periods, the research presented can potentially bring about new approaches and appearances to structures for the creation of smart buildings and responsive cities.
On the BOOK tab you can find more information regarding this book on INTEGRATED Design/Optimization of buildings & neighborhoods according to the sun and climate. You can also click on the image below.
In planning and architectural design a number of environmental oriented concepts (e.g. adaptation, hibernation, migration) can also be developed to resist, react and adjust efficient in changing and challenging environments around the globe: (i.e. in addition to the structural reformations, and in combination with applying new systems and materials in ordinary buildings).
Moreover there is still more good news!
Generally, to perform a basic building energy simulation, a climate data file known as Typical Meteorological Year (TMY) data is used by most of the readily available tools including previous versions of the SOLARCHVISION research program. However, these files do not include all of the essential weather information in each location that should really be considered to bring the design to the next level.
To perform more advanced studies in this area and by applying different high quality hourly datasets (i.e. long-term climate files, ensemble model weather forecast files) provided and maintained by Environment Canada, a new version of SOLARCHVISION tool was developed in 2014 and still undergoing development at the R.M.M. Solarch Studio.
This has become possible thanks in part to the growing availability and application of deterministic and ensemble numerical weather prediction datasets and their gradual value when integrated into the decision-making and risk management process. (see “Weather Forecast Data an Important Input into Building Management Systems”, ICEBO-2013, http://collaboration.cmc.ec.gc.ca/cmc/cmoi/product_guide/docs/REFcsts/)
To maximize different benefits and to manage the immediate and long-term impacts that different environmental sources (i.e. solar, wind, water, etc.) can have, the 2014 version of SOLARCHVISION is specifically designed for studying multi-layer datasets in a much more integrated manner. This analysis and modeling platform can now easily be used and applied by a wide range of decision-makers including environmental scientists, building engineers, architects, urban planners, etc. and could most likely be developed further still.
Nevertheless, one of the focal points that can be highlighted by the SOLARCHVISION process is how the activation of the senses at building skin/neighborhood/city management/decision-making levels can result in developing more efficient, comfortable, safer and more sustainable spaces for all.