Simulation in Design

The best intent does not always lead to the best performing design, as intuition and rules of thumb sometimes fail to adequately inform decision making. Therefore, designers of high-performance architecture increasingly turn to analytical tools to eliminate some of the guesswork. This course explores the use of computerized simulation in pursuit of high performance design. It focuses primarily on energy modeling accompanied by an investigation into the related field of lighting/daylighting simulation.

Students acquire skills in energy and daylight simulation and, using these skills, explore fundamental design issues such as building massing, natural ventilation, envelope construction, and daylighting. The course presents the benefits as well as the limitations of computer simulation. Topics include fundamentals such as modeling strategies, underlying physical principles, understanding assumptions, and interpreting results with an emphasis on developing the ability to translate the analysis into design decisions. Through practice with the software tools, students develop a better understanding of physics in architecture and hone their own design intuition.

The class format consists of lectures, in-class exercises, group discussions, and student presentations. Students learn simulation tools through a series of short assignments and apply the knowledge in small-group design projects. Both studio-based and research-based students are encouraged to enroll.