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Paper w78-2000-686:
Visualisation in building design and analysis

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Pilgrim M, Bouchlaghem D, Holmes M, Loveday D

Visualisation in building design and analysis

Abstract:"Research on data visualisation is undergoing major developments in a number of different fields. These developments include investigating ways of applying visualisation techniques and systems for more efficient manipulation, interpretation and presentation of data. Research into applied visualisation has so far taken place in the fields of Computational Fluid Dynamics, Medicine, Social Sciences, and the Environment. In the built environment field however, the potential of new visualisation technologies to enhance the presentation of performance data from simulation programmes (of the type used by engineering design consultants, for example) has remained almost unexplored. Improvements in this area would lead to a better and more efficient use of these simulation programs and would facilitate the interpretation of such output data by construction industry professionals, leading to better, more informed design decisions. This paper presents an initial study on Data Visualisation and its effective use in the thermal analysis of buildings. Much of the current data visualisation in the engineering and scientific world focuses on very large data sets produced by applications such as FEA, CFD or GIS. As such the tools developed to date are often too expensive or not appropriate for the visualisation of the relatively smaller data sets produced by thermal analysis tools. The objective of the work summarised here was to develop a method of visualising the data produced by the thermal analysis tools which would run on an average desktop PC and be easy to maintain/customise and above all present the data in an intuitive manner. A workplace observational study of several engineers performing such an analysis revealed each was spending a significant amount of time manipulating the output within commercial spreadsheet packages. Further studies revealed the most common tasks were the inspection of predicted internal conditions, location of glazed elements transmitting significant solar radiation and the identification of high internal surface temperatures. Two applications were therefore proposed. The first is designed to automatically process the output within the spreadsheet environment. The second is designed to display the solution in three dimensions to aid spatial recognition and data navigation. The spreadsheet tools were developed over a period of several months and then released to all users of the analysis tools. The 3D tool was developed over a longer period and has been subjected to small group tests. Each tool was developed using Microsoft Visual Basic making them both easy to maintain and freely available. The 3D tool reads in flat text files produced by the analysis and automatically generates a framed HTML page with an embedded 3D VRML world describing the building and its results. This study shows that each of the proposed applications significantly improves some of the attributes associated with usability, namely; learnability, efficiency, memorability, errors and satisfaction. The spreadsheet tool increased efficiency and decreased errors but offered no real satisfaction. The 3D tool offers increased satisfaction but at present does not efficiently present all of the data required. Finally, It is possible to develop low cost Data Visualisation tools to improve the overall usability of a thermal analysis tool within a built environment consultantcy."


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Series:w78:2000 (browse)
Cluster:papers of the same cluster (result of machine made clusters)
Class:class.social (0.027102) class.environment (0.018138) class.economic (0.016196)
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Permission to reproduce these documents have been graciously provided by Icelandic Building Research Institute. The assistance of the editor, Mr. Gudni Gudnason, is gratefully appreciated


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