The use and potential applications of point clouds in simulation of solar radiation for solar access in urban contexts

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High-performing architecture should be designed by taking into account the mutual dependency between the new building and the local context. The performative architecture plays an important role to avert any unforeseen failures after the building has been built; particularly ones related to the microclimate impacts that affect the human comfort. The use of the concept of solar envelopes helps designers to construct the developable mass of the building design considering the solar access and the site obstruction. However, the current analysis method using solar envelopes lack in terms of integrating the detailed information of the existing context during the simulation process. In architectural design, often the current site modelling not only absent in preserving the complex geometry but also information on the surface characteristics. Currently, the emerging applications of point clouds offer a great possibility to overcome these limitations, since they include the attribute information such as XYZ as the position information and RGB as the color information. This study particularly presents a comparative analysis between the manually built 3D models and the models generated from the point cloud data. The modelling comparisons focus on the relevant factors of solar radiation and a set of simulation to calculate the performance indicators regarding selected portions of the models. The experimental results emphasize an introduction of the design approach and the dataset visibility of the 3D existing environments. This paper ultimately aims at improving the current architectural decision of support environment means, by increasing the correspondence between the digital models for performance analysis and the real environments (context of design) during the conceptual design phase.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-338
JournalAdvances in Computational Design
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository 'You share, we take care!' - Taverne project

Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • solar envelope
  • Point Cloud Data
  • microclimate impacts
  • environmental simulation
  • modeling environments


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