3D geometry of the Pitlab

For DOOR Architects, omrt is facilitating the computational support for their own office building ‘Pitlab’. It comprises of nine stacked containers in a grid of three by three. At one end of the upper six containers, a double façade will be installed with pepper plants in between both façade elements and extra mass will be added on the bottom to function as heat exchanger. The goal of the façade is to function as light controller, as battery for heat exchange and as pre-ventilation channel providing oxygen. The variables to be accounted for in the project are; geometry, heat levels, oxygen, airflow, amount of intruding daylight, and humidity.

Traditionally, the design process would go by reasoning and by experience in meetings. In contrary, omrt invited themselves to work a day at the office of the architect and to work out the design iterations ‘realtime’. We asked the architect to set the boundaries of each variable; what are the minimum and maximum allowed temperatures inside the building, how fast may the ventilation draught go, or what systems are used against too much sunlight?

Heat analysis of the impact of the double facade and greenhouse during the winter

Heat analysis of the impact of the double facade and greenhouse during the summer
Diagram of the monthly impact of the double facade and the greenhouse

From this range of boundaries, a series of studies and optimisations were performed. A computational fluid dynamics study for ventilation within the double façade returned four realistic alternatives. From these, the two best were chosen by the architect and used as input for eight new alternatives incorporating the daylight, humidity and heating variables.

The four alternative ventilation paths within the double facade (number 4 right below is the best alternative):

A demonstration video on the ventilation path coming from the double facade:


The architects were stunned by the freedom within the design process because the engineering part was not directly steering towards an end solution but merely facilitating within the range of the preferred settings and regarding the building code regulations. As one architect said: “It felt as if there was so much freedom in the decision making because we did not reject all second runner options. We now got to see why some alternatives are better than others and thereby came to a solution that was much more grounded than I expected”.

DOOR Architecten walking through their renovated building design in Virtual Reality while standing in the old building. The VR settings were matched to the same daylight as in the real world and it gave a highly similar look and feel; promising!

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