ArchiWind: From Research to Commercialization

How ArchiWind became the tool it is today after years of research.

ArchiWind: From Research to Commercialization image
Trond-Ola Hågbo image
Trond-Ola Hågbo Urban Wind Engineer
Published on Dec 6, 2023

The journey of ArchiWind began at the University of Stavanger (UiS), where a group of researchers set out to develop a tool to simulate urban wind dynamics. With years of research and testing, the group developed a unique simulation setup that later became the core of ArchiWind. Through several academic papers, this setup evolved, introducing new methods for further improving the accuracy and realism of urban wind simulations.

Adhering to Best Practices

The development of the simulation setup was driven by a strong commitment to follow the Best Practice Guidelines (BPGs) for urban wind simulations [1, 2], known as the gold standard within the wind simulation research community. These guidelines ensure that simulations are accurate, reliable, and reflect real-world wind behavior. The simulation setup of ArchiWind was developed to adhere to the recommendations of the BPGs, and the setup was first presented in Hågbo et al. (2021) [5]. As the simulation setup continued to evolve, a notable enhancement was made to enable the incorporation of vegetation in the simulations as a porous medium. This advanced feature arose from the research and development efforts documented in Venkatraman et al. 2022 [4].

Example of a simulation including vegetation
Example of a simulation including vegetation.

Proven Through Validation

ArchiWind’s methods are firmly anchored in both theory and rigorous real-world testing. The outcomes of the wind simulations have been robustly compared against data from wind tunnel experiments, as demonstrated in references [5], [6], and [7]. Further comparisons have been made using data from real-life locations in complex terrains, as documented in [4] and [8]. Notably, [8] underscored that the simulation results ranked among the top when evaluated against other leading research groups. In conclusion, the validation process indicates that ArchiWind’s simulations consistently yield high-quality results, reinforcing its standing in urban wind simulation. This careful academic work laid the foundation for ArchiWind.

Illustration of a simulation on a known benchmark case used for validation.
Illustration of a simulation on a known benchmark case used for validation. The black dots indicate the locations of the measurement probes used in the wind tunnel experiments.

Laying Commercial Foundations with Validé

The research conducted at UiS was quickly recognized for its broader applicability beyond academic settings. It became evident that such in-depth insights into urban wind dynamics were invaluable for architects, city developers, and regional authorities. Seeing the potential for real-world applications, especially in creating pedestrian-friendly spaces around new constructions, the UiS team partnered with Validé. Validé is dedicated to transitioning research from academic environments into real-world industry applications. This collaboration facilitated the formation of NablaFlow and the commercial evolution of ArchiWind.

Industry-Driven Evolution

NablaFlow, has used ArchiWind in-house for years while refining the tool for industry projects. The iterative process of working on actual industry projects while developing the tool, provided invaluable feedback. Consequently, the tool has been improved substantially over the years. Today, ArchiWind stands as a fully automated solution designed for user ease without compromising on simulation accuracy or its inherent value to its users.

From Academic Foundations to Urban Impact

Building on its strong academic foundation, ArchiWind is now a clear example of how research can blend seamlessly with practical use. While it has grown into a trusted commercial tool, its origins remain firmly rooted in the research conducted at UiS. As we look ahead, ArchiWind is set for more improvements and innovations, always guided by its commitment to knowledge, detailed validation, and deep connection to academic research. This story highlights the impact of academic research in creating solutions that move beyond the lab to address real-world challenges, marking the journey from research to commercialization.

ArchiWind´s web-based 3D viewer
ArchiWind´s web-based 3D viewer

Wind conditions in an urban environment can be improved or worsened by the design of buildings and landscapes. The height of a building, shape, or position relative to surrounding elements like parks, fences, and trees all affect wind conditions. This highly local wind data can be used to ensure pedestrian-friendly spaces in tomorrow’s cities and investigate other possibilities related to sustainable urban development.

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[1] Franke, J., Hellsten, A., Schlünzen, H., & Carissimo, B. (2007). Cost Action 732-Best practice guideline for the CFD simulation of flows in the urban environment. Brussels, COST.

[2] Yoshie, R., Mochida, A., Tominaga, Y., Kataoka, H., Harimoto, K., Nozu, T., & Shirasawa, T. (2007). Cooperative project for CFD prediction of pedestrian wind environment in the Architectural Institute of Japan. Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics, 95(9-11), 1551-1578.

[3] Hågbo, T.-O., Giljarhus, K. E. T., & Hjertager, B. H. (2021). Influence of geometry acquisition method on pedestrian wind simulations. Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics, 215, 104665.

[4] Venkatraman, K., Hågbo, T.-O., Buckingham, S., & Giljarhus, K. E. T. (2022). Effect of different source terms and inflow direction in atmospheric boundary modeling over the complex terrain site of Perdigão. Wind Energy Science.

[5] Hågbo, T.-O., Giljarhus, K. E. T., Qu, S., & Hjertager, B. H. (2019). The Performance of Structured and Unstructured Grids on Wind Simulations around a High-rise Building. IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering, 700(1).

[6] Hågbo, T.-O., & Giljarhus, K. E. T. (2022). Pedestrian Wind Comfort Assessment Using Computational Fluid Dynamics Simulations With Varying Number of Wind Directions. Frontiers in Built Environment, 8.

[7] Giljarhus, K. E. T., & Hågbo, T.-O. (2023). Simulation-based data-driven wind engineering - analyzing the influence of building proximity and skyways on pedestrian comfort. Accepted by Structural Integrity.

[8] Hammer, F., et al. (2023). Comparison Metrics Microscale Simulation Challenge for Wind Resource Assessment. Submitted to Wind Energy Science.