Built density, solar potential and daylighting : application of parametric studies and performance simulation tools in urban design
Augmenting built density helps achieve a sustainable urban development reducing, for example, transport-related energy consumption and greenfield urbanization. Yet, in order not to undermine solar potential and daylight, an integrated design approach guaranteeing building performance in dense urban contexts is needed. This thesis shows the application of building simulation tools into a parametric 3D modeling environment so as to calculate the potential energy production from solar systems, the energy needs for space heating/cooling and some climate-based daylight metrics for several design scenarios generated by the combination of fundamental geometrical parameters. This methodology is applied to three case-studies in Switzerland presenting different densification strategies at the neighborhood scale: the urban renewal of a brownfield site in Yverdon-les-Bains and two “soft densification” interventions in Geneva, i.e. roof raising in a central area and housing infill in a suburban residential district. Each case-study has been evaluated according to common morphological and environmental indicators, showing that the urban renewal project represents a good compromise between built density and building performance objectives. Moreover, a set of optimized design scenarios has been proposed for this strategy. Although the results of this work refer to specific case studies which are not representative of all urban contexts, at a methodological level the hereby presented procedure can be used as a decision support tool in the early urban design phase also in other situations and can facilitate the choice of the most appropriate densification strategy.