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Hart Howerton Designs Comfort
at Cabot Highlands with SimScale


Designing for pedestrian wind comfort at a coastal site with volatile weather.

This included simulating transient walking spaces between open areas and buildings. Accurate topography modeling was required — imported from GIS tools.

cabot highlands


Accurate weather data and geometry import into SimScale without any CAD cleanup.

Simulation of buildings, walkways, trees, landscaping, and other objects using the LBM solver in SimScale.

Significantly improved pedestrian wind comfort and wind velocities in regions of interest.

cabot highland lawson criteria simulation

This case study explores the application of SimScale’s engineering simulation software by Hart Howerton, a prominent design firm, in modeling pedestrian wind comfort for a range of projects, including the Cabot Highlands master plan. The approach by Hart Howerton underscores the integration of digital tools in transforming hand-sketched concepts into high-performance spaces, considering sustainability and environmental analysis in the design process.

About Hart Howerton

Hart Howerton is a design firm with a robust portfolio that includes beach clubs, outdoor spaces, and leisure environments. With a skilled team that includes the Design Technology and Sustainability Groups, the firm harnesses the capabilities of advanced tools and techniques including Rhino, Grasshopper, GIS, and more. SimScale, a fully cloud-native engineering simulation software, is used for specialist pedestrian wind comfort, site analysis, and building aerodynamics.

From Hand Sketches to High-Performance Spaces

The design technology team at Hart Howerton comprises individuals with diverse skills focused on digital transformation, environmental analysis, and the digital realization of conceptual sketches. This multidisciplinary group works collaboratively on planning, landscaping, architecture, and the management of complex geometries, with an emphasis on the firm’s commitment to the AIA 2030 Challenge for sustainable and carbon-neutral developments.

The workflow begins with concept sketches that are transformed into digital models using SketchUp and Rhino. These models are then imported into SimScale, where they undergo simulations against various climate data. SimScale’s comprehensive toolset allows for transient wind studies and compliance with wind comfort standards which are crucial in understanding and mitigating the effects of wind on pedestrian comfort. The spaces that Hart Howerton designs include outdoor, leisure, and spaces with transient occupancy. This poses a challenge to ensure those spaces are comfortable during peak seasons, events, and during adverse weather.

Cabot Highlands Project

Cabot Highlands – Phase 1A

A larger and more complex endeavor, the masterplan of Cabot Highlands required a phased approach to upgrade existing buildings and add to the growing site. Initial studies focused on understanding wind conditions and their impact on the landscape. The design decisions were heavily informed by layers of SimScale simulations, custom comfort criteria, and the strategic placement of landscape elements to harmonize with the sometimes volatile coastal environment, rather than to combat it.

cabot highlands site
Image: The Cabot Highlands site in Scotland, UK.

Hart Howerton successfully used SimScale to predict and optimize wind comfort levels. The Cabot Highlands project revealed significant insights into wind behavior, informing the placement of trees and the orientation of landscapes to ensure the integration of nature and design. The Lattice Boltzmann Method (LBM) integrated solver in SimScale was used to perform transient wind analysis for the prevailing wind direction to give more accurate insights into the interaction of the wind with the topography and site layout. The Lawson LDDC wind comfort criteria were used to evaluate pedestrian wind comfort not only on the ground level but also in balconies and roof-top spaces, some of which were experiencing uncomfortable winds according to the client.

Transient wind results


Hart Howerton’s team is leveraging environmental data, including real-time terrain data, in their simulations using GIS and other software tools. This approach is essential when considering topography and a changing climate in designs that include amenities such as golf courses positioned on the edge of cliffs and remote locations. The iterative process of massing study, along with the incorporation of environmental analysis, allowed for the continuous refinement of designs to achieve improvements in site conditions that are data-driven and measurable. Hart Howerton’s case illustrates the integral role of simulation software like SimScale in modern urban design and planning.

Our sites include some of the most well-known and high-profile golf clubs in the world. SimScale is the only tool we know that accurately accounts for site topography in their climate simulations, and we can add our own custom weather data easily. It allowed us to perform both transient wind studies and compliance predictions for wind comfort and safety with the highest level of confidence in the results.

noushin radnia

Noushin Radnia

Design Technology Team at Hart Howerton

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