Practical usage of insolation analysis in designing process |
Using of insolation software for analysis in concept phase let designers for creating more optimized forms. It influence on rising design quality and minimize possible modifications in later stages of implementation. It has also direct impact on saving time and project documentation preparing costs. 

Broadcasting Place in Leeds
Honoree in 2010 with Europe's Best Tall Building Award building intrigued by its dynamic lump. It distinguished by an unusual arrangement of stories and interesting, taking part in Trans context facade. Characteristic, red-brown elevation is common feature of all new buildings designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studio in Broadcasting Place complex placed Leeds Metropolitan University campus. 
The key to investment sucess was an innovative approach to elevation design. Designers wants to ensure proper lighting with avoiding of rooms overheating. To achieve this goal, relying on computer tools for insolation analysis, they conducted a detailed study of the facade. To aid in the design was employed UK's Building Research Establishment (BRE) - organization, which is dealing with, inter alia, creating of standards (BREEAM) and 
popularization of energy-efficient construction.
In creating of first concept architects baseline only on their intuition. They proposed more number of glazing at the base of the building, with decreasing upwardly form. Unfortunately, first results of analysis made by BRE forced designers to revision of such concept. Calculation proves, that greater differentiation of glazing number should occurs in horizontal - around the building. Vertical gradation was clear only on facades surface, with close neighborhood of other buildings. 
Architects in their work besides collecting data about quantity of daylight, conducted also analysis of solar energy. Data was received from BRE in the form of table from Excel software. In order to better understand and usage, it was plotted on a scale mock-up 1:500.
After those preparations architects proceeded to redesign the facade. Working in Excel they wrote script, which had help them use results of analysis in designing building facades. Algorithm, basing on data numbers about quantity of light and solar energy, generated proposal of panels layout. This action was impeented in two phases: analysis of data and panels placement. Firstly algorithm shared all facades on groups (four modules with 1,5 meters wide) and attributed them to the average values of insolation. Next, according to the result of analysis, it calculate proper number of glass panels and at the end - make random placement within a group. 
Unfortunately, random panels placement did not meet the primary assumption of the project, which was effect of panels "runoff" on the elevation. To achieve desired effect, designers use another script, this time functioning as a recursive algorithm. It task was 
increase the likelihood of full panel appearance directly under previous or lower, after the diagonal. New placement of panels in the part of the facade was created basing on panels placement in parts of the neighboring, insolation data and output system.
Architects choose the most interesting elevations generated by computer and refined them, by rearranging some panels within the groups. In rooms, where occurs overheating problem, thrusted upper panels or used glasses with reduced solar heat permeability. In places, where still occurs overheating problem or insufficient sunlight, designed technical facilities and communication. Project was tested according to oryginal values, to confirm designed amount of glazing property.
Residential building complex on Krańcowa street in Warsaw 
In Poland issue of acess to sunlight is regulated by buildings "technical conditions". This imposes for architects duty of shadow analysis preparation, which need to be attached to the application for building permission. Due to the laboriousness of such analysis preparation, architects from APA Wojciechowski were searching for solution to automate this process. Important was also, to allow making calculations basing on solid model.
According to that, shadow analysis can be prepared as a part of feasibility study. It allows to shorten time needed for prepare of next project stages (by avoiding introducing time-consuming amendments). Demand for this kind of software was the reason of joining to beta tests of Shadow Analysis. Project of four buildings housing estate at Krańcowa Street was first opportunity to try software in practice. 
Main objective of the project was creating housing estate complex connected with large recreational space, playground, walking paths and a charming pond. According to the assumption plot was splitted on two parts: from the streets planned compact housing development and in quite, inside part - recreational functions. Creating comfortable conditions for living in residential intensively built-quarter needs solid buildings optimization, according to apartments insolation. 
First step of optimization was modeling solid of designed building in SketchUp. Based on such prepared model, it has been made shadow analysis in Shadow Analysis software. 
Next, according to results of analysis, architects made modifications of designing building solid and again verified results by using software. 
Actions of model modify and shadow analysis was made several times, in looped form. Whole process of solid optimization don't exceed more than few hours. According to cooperation of architect and computer in designing building form, it was possible to reconcile demand of high building intensity with comfort of designed apartments.
Integration of optymalization with designing solid building process is example of modern organization design process. According to that it is possible to meet high demands in short time period. Change consists on departure from standard working scheme (solid conception => projections, sections and elevations of the building  => shadow analysis) in direction of solutions based on using computer calculation power (solid conception => shadow analysis => projections, sections and elevations of the building). Advantage such work organization is resolving many problems in the start of designing, which clearly improves work over successive stages of project. 
Metro station "Maria Del Pianto" in Milan
Architects from Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners London office and engineers from Expedition Engineering designing roof of metro station "Maria Del Pianto" in Milan used innovative way of covering optimization in terms of sunlight. Basing on application of  software automating insolation, they have used genetic algorythm to search for covering with demanded parameters. According to that, optimization process could be done almost entirely by computer. 
Application of such solution won't be possible without use Rhino software plugin, created specially for this purpose by Fredd Labbe, engineer from Expedition Engineering. How explain Labbe, evolutionary alghorytms made operations on possible solution populations and following evolution process - through the use the principle of survival of the fittest rule - in purpose of creating still better solution approximations with every next generation. 
Before accession to optimization of overlap architects needed to define it form. They have decided to double curved hyperbolic paraboloid. it has been proposed construction structure of thin steel elements, which the system resembled a honeycomb, covered with ETFE membrane. Roof had to provide maximum access of light and sky view for platform placed duct at the base station at depth of 40 meters. Moreover, designers goal was shading ground floor level and avoid of overheating station premises. Huge meaning has also economic materials use. 
Achieve of those all goals at the same time require innovative approach to the optimization of covering. In this purpose was used genetic algorithm, because it is especially effective in searching of balance between opposite demands. With it help effect the conversion of the structural members in such a way, that optimized form ensure fulfilling all from above mentiond conditions.
Roof optimization was made based on goup of 400 potential solutions. As a result of crossing and mutation of those proposals (potential solutions) over 70 generations, achieved a satisfactory solution. Disposable calculation takes about week, because it demand generating and analizing of 28 000 different versions of the design. All those actions were made only by computer, without any human's interference in this process. 
Whole roof optimization process takes four months. In comparision to primary, regular grid layout of "honeycomb" it was possible to improve about 30% of lower station part insolation. For rooms on the ground floor, which demands shading, it has been improved by 15%. All those things were achieved with reduction of the steel structure weight by 2,5% (12 tons). 
Designers of Broadcasting Place in Leeds, residential complex at Krańcowa Street in Warsaw, or metro station "Maria Del Pianto"  in Milan proved, that regardless of the designing project scale or budget, insolation software could be useful tool in designer work and successfully serve to advance his vision.
Authors: Tomasz Janiak, Magdalena Samojluk.