LINK Arkitektur is an award-winning design office and the largest of its kind in Scandinavia. With over 500 architects and designers in 15 offices, LINK works on some of the most prestigious and complex projects in the region and beyond. LINK has a dedicated and growing sustainability team that incorporates elements of environmental design and building physics using energy and thermal calculation tools. The practice has expertise using a range of commercial and open-sourced design software including Rhino/Grasshopper and third-party integrations such as Ladybug, Radiance, and OpenFOAM for environmental and sustainability analyses. With a growing need for advanced simulation and computational capabilities from the earliest design stages, LINK looks to a small team of experts embedded within the wider practice —LINK IO.
LINK IO is a computational network within LINK Arkitektur that connects architects, computational designers, and data specialists from different disciplines, to form a powerful and diverse computational design community. As a network they apply computational processes and effect-based design solutions, thereby delivering high-quality sustainable architecture that is profitable and meets the requirements of future generations. Rooted in local offices all over Scandinavia, LINK IO is focused on solving tomorrow’s global challenges on a local level with the power of a big cloud of human experts. The team is led by Jan Buthke, Head of LINK IO / Computational Design Lead / MA Architecture. Building performance analysis at LINK IO is integral to their core offering. In order to analyze and evaluate architectural solutions in relation to feasibility and rentability in the early phase, they use parametric tools for performative analysis and digital collaboration with other professions such as engineers and contractors. They have a special focus on adaptive reuse of existing buildings and circular economy in general, and are developing several parametric tools based on AI for mapping, quantifying, and qualifying existing buildings.
The project in question is a new master plan and housing project in Dolvik, in the municipality of Bergen, close to a fjord. The location close to a fjord on the west coast of Norway gives rise to a need for detailed microclimate analysis. Originally designed in 2018, the slightly delayed project took on significant sustainability demands when restarted that were not on the original brief. A net-zero commitment on some of the housing plots was also added leading LINK IO to propose wind studies due to the unique nature of the fjord. At the time of writing the project is currently going through the planning approval process. The location can be seen on the map images below.
To meet strict sustainability and net-zero commitments, the housing units have a high proportion of their roofs covered in solar photovoltaics (PV) panels. The wind simulations using SimScale were needed to evaluate the windy conditions on-site for pedestrian wind comfort and safety, as well as for roof terraces and safety limits for roof-mounted solar PV panels.
Mathias Sønderskov Schaltz, Principal Design Engineer at LINK IO, has been leading the environmental studies. Their purpose in using microclimate analyses is to optimize design solutions and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements for indoor and outdoor climate and the general well-being of residents.
We perform a wide range of sustainability and microclimate analyses on all our projects. In order to streamline the work processes, we have implemented a large number of automations, optimizing processes and enhancing the collaboration with our partners in the AEC industry, including SimScale
The wider practice has experience using a variety of CAD tools including Rhino, Sketchup, Revit, and ArchiCAD. In this case, they were using Rhino geometry to import into SimScale seamlessly. The workflow from Rhino to SimScale is simple and intuitive and one of the arguments for choosing SimScale. The LINK IO team found it easy to import terrain and topographical features, something that is critical in Scandinavia. The lattice Boltzmann method (LBM) solver in SimScale handles terrain in 3D models well and bringing in GIS data via ArchiCAD is relatively simple. Another advantage was that SimScale has an integrated climate database to read from and can also import/customize bespoke weather data files. Some of the design questions LINK IO were looking to answer with SimScale included:
LINK IO modeled much of the local terrain in detail including several tree species. From initial simulations the team found the site to be naturally comfortable due to the local wind and sheltered area the housing project was in. With quick alterations to the CAD model in SimScale, they are also able to iterate the design and compare wind comfort scenarios. After the simulations, the team provides documentation and feedback to improve the design proposal. The team strives to make wind analyses more accessible to architects and more meaningful for the final design.
LINK IO is looking to use the SimScale API to automate wind studies and corresponding reporting/documentation. The need for mandatory wind studies is increasing in much of Scandinavia, driven by compliance requirements and sustainability systems including BREEAM. Previously, LINK IO might have commissioned a wind tunnel study with a third party for very large projects. With SimScale, the team now has access to fast and accurate wind simulations from the very earliest design stages. LINK IO can now integrate microclimate studies in-house on all projects—a growing demand from their clients. Calculating the Universal Thermal Comfort Index (UTCI) is also high on their agenda using SimScale’s readily available Ladybug and Grasshopper scripts as well as exploring more of the collaboration features in SimScale.