i said i wasn’t going to post, but i’m so excited that i had to share. i swear, i nearly peed myself when i started playing with this program, it is that amazing!! i talk about tech and toys a lot, and love lots of programs and such, but this is miles beyond anything i’ve ever seen. granted, i will undoubtedly hit some road bumps when learning this thing, but holy fucking crap it’s incredible!
the program is called ecotect, and is written by a bunch of phd’s at Cardiff University Welsh School of Architecture somewhere off in merry old England. this program has the capacity to import your 3d models or your 2d plans/elevations/etc (and extrude 3d models from the plan with its own internal 3d modeling program – which i must say is light years easier than form-z, which is the defacto standard for easy 3d modeling in architecture, and it sucks ass sooooo bad. that was a bad comparison i guess, b/c this really is an easy 3d modeler – apparently its material rendering properties are also pretty good, but you can export the file to be used in other 3d modeling programs if you want more detail).
anyway, i modeled a very simple house (just learning – tomorrow i start modeling the UTSolarD SNAP House), and began assigning the various componenets (walls, windows, roof, etc) their own material properties. by material properties, i don’t mean how it looks, which is what material properties means in most 3d modeling programs. NO, material properties in ecotect means exactly that – material properties. i was able to set U-values, solar absorption values, thickness, weight, specularity, emissivity, color, embodied energy, material cost, expected life, maintenance costs, maintenance energy, greenhouse gas emission, cost per unit, AND THEN SOME. this is b/c this program is not meant for 3d modeling, but for building analysis. by setting material properties to every surface/volume/object in the model, i can now analyze shadows/shading, solar analysis (w/ built in sun path and everything – w/ this i shouldn’t have to take solar geometry next semester!), lighting design (daylighting and artificial lighting), thermal performance, building regulations, ventilation, acoustic analysis (using particle animated sound particles!! that’s ove arup level stuff!), and resource management. so i can pretty accurately determine how the design, geometry, siting, material selection, etc. will all interact and understand how the building will function under normal conditions. and trust me, i just took a class on daylighting this past semester, and it ain’t easy. we used so much trig and created so many excel files to model a simple rectangle and how light arrives at various surfaces that i have a profound respect for how this program works. especially since the lighting componenet works just like the lighting program created by my daylighting prof (a brilliant man, who – it should be noted – created the very first computer based lighting program ever in the world back in the 1970’s when he first got to UT School of Architecture. he was subsequently hired by the US DOE to export a version of the program for analysis and design of all govt. buildings).
so i just started playing with the solar analysis part, and i can display the annual, or daily sun path right on screen w/ my model. of course this thing has built in weather and location data, so it’s currently set to Austin TX. this program will help immensely in our energy analysis which is due june15. i am now the group lead for using this program, though i think that once the deadline has passed and everyone has a bit more time, they should and will all familiarize themselves w/ this program. i don’t think that i’m going to use other 3d programs anymore, just ecotect – b/c it isn’t just 3d modeling; it is an entire building analysis tool. pretty 3d models i now understand are shite – they are glitz – only good for helping visualize a space. they’re beautiful, and there’s a market for creating incredibly intricate 3d models. but for designing a building, this is far and away a much more useful tool. and as i said before, the model can be built in ecotect for analysis, and then exported to other programs to create more intricate visual models.
this thing is so off the hook.