PreDesign: Sunny with a chance of better design

October 13, 2020 Sumele Aruofor

Looking for simple ways to access helpful climate insights? Do you want to better understand how the environment affects your projects? Well, the future is here, and its forecast is bright and sunny.

Using your site location and building type, PreDesign, SketchUp’s new design research tool, allows you to find the best design strategies, get inspiration for narratives, and generate compelling graphics for storytelling. 

Get suggestions for appropriate architectural responses such as larger or smaller windows to suit your context, find the right balance between the type of windows you specify and the ideal amount of glass for a sustainable design, and get the inspiration you need to design great, usable outdoor spaces.

Getting started in PreDesign

PreDesign is a cloud-based platform that delivers helpful climate information to designers looking to confidently kick off a conceptual design. Simply log into the app, and provide two simple details to get started: a site location, and a building typology selected from a drop-down list — typically, this is as much detail as a designer might have at the very start of a new project. A heads up that you'll need a SketchUp Pro, Studio, or Enterprise subscription to access PreDesign

Let’s dive into PreDesign’s functionality and the results you can get from adding it to your workflow. 

Valuable climate insights

Stay on top of the seasons, from Denver to Kuala Lumpur and beyond.

Ever needed to articulate how the weather influenced your design decisions? PreDesign gathers climatic data about your site in a user-friendly platform, saving architects, landscape architects, and urban designers the hassle of navigating multiple platforms to tell a simple story. It can also be a game-changer for designers working in unfamiliar locations, or to help sense check preconceptions about a familiar context. 

Yes, you’ll get the snazzy sun path diagram but what does it really mean? PreDesign provides a clear, concise overview of the climate you are working in, communicating it in intuitive diagrams and giving you intelligent talking points.

PreDesign enables you to crystallize your climate-related design constraints, and confidently propose the most viable solutions for your project. Goodbye uncertainty, hello insights!

Top features

Architectural response

Create the best case scenario with recommendations on what’s ideal for your climate: Openings, shading, or heating?

Climate stats are great, but what do they actually mean for your project? PreDesign helps you connect the dots between the climate and your building type, so you can smoothly arrive at the best architectural design response. 

Understand, in intuitive terms, what the elements feel like: Is it pleasant to be outside? Is it windy most of the time? Based on these conditions, PreDesign will suggest appropriate architectural responses such as larger openings to take advantage of great outdoor conditions, and shading to control adverse solar gain. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to create an informed architectural design narrative around climate - and build the most efficient building possible.

Shading and glazing 

Warm rays, cool shades. Leverage PreDesign’s sun path diagram and shading guidance to avoid overheating and capture good sunlight.

Getting an idea of what architectural responses will help you make the most of your climate is only the beginning. To design the best solution possible, it’s important to understand how the sun crosses your site.

PreDesign produces an intuitive sun path diagram that shows the areas on your site that receive warming sun, which areas are exposed to overheating sun, and which areas are overcast by cloudy skies. This will allow you to effectively position your built form to take advantage of favorable conditions, such as a well-lit courtyard or playground. You’ll also learn which parts of the sky are most important to shade. With this information, you’ll know how best to shelter outside spaces from adverse elements -- a pergola, an awning, or large canopy tree? Your choice!

Toggle between eight different orientations and access shading guidance specific to any direction for optimal climate design. This feature covers a wide range of shading options, such as overhangs, brise soleils, and automated blinds. PreDesign tells you how effective each option is in shading overheating sun and whether it adversely blocks too much warming sun. With this, you’ll have an informed shortlist of the most effective shading strategies for your concept.

Too hot, too cold, or just right? Get sound recommendations on the ideal glazing ratios for your context.

Are you looking to design a glass-encased jewel or simply trying to find the right balance between daylight, thermal comfort, cost, and aesthetics? Adjust these five key parameters — glazing type, framing insulation, solar control, and external shading — to understand the trade-offs when you increase the amount of glass on each face of your building.

How much glass is too much? Tweak material specifications to find the right balance.

By tweaking these parameters, you can understand the impact of your glazing specifications and ensure that you specify materials in a realistic, and budget-friendly way. For example, if specifying triple glazing only allows you to increase your glazing surface by 2% as compared to double glazing, then it makes sense to simply specify double glazing at less cost to your client. 

Daylighting

Let there be light: Choose between north-facing sawtooth, skylights, and reflectors.

Leave no planar surface out! Some locations and building types benefit from top lighting alongside, or instead of, windows. Of the myriad options out there which one is right for your project? Should your sawtooth face north or south? PreDesign provides inspiration and clear guidance on the suitability of a wide range of top lighting options, making it easy to find the right solution to bring beneficial daylight into your design. Make those designs lit!

Outside spaces

Make the most of your outdoor space with the right design interventions.

Outdoor space adds incredible values to homes, schools, and offices. If well thought through, the outdoors can greatly improve the quality of life of its users. 

PreDesign provides the foresight you need to design excellent outside spaces and extend their usability. Propose windbreaks to shelter occupants from intense gales, fans for hot stuffy days, rain covers for summer showers, fire pits for cold evenings, and solar-powered lighting to stretch out those garden parties. 

Whatever the context, discover the solutions that will add maximum value and give outside spaces more function.

How to access PreDesign

If you’re looking to save time and zero-in on the most viable design options, design better, more sustainable buildings; and effectively communicate to clients why your proposal is worthwhile, you’ll love PreDesign!

You can access PreDesign if you have a current SketchUp Pro or Studio subscription, or an enterprise agreement. Want to see PreDesign in action? Join our interactive webinar on December 3rd, 2020.

Let us know what you think on the forum when you take PreDesign for a spin.

 

About the Author

Sumele Aruofor

Sumele contributes architecture and performance-focused content to the SketchUp blogs. When she's not writing or practicing architecture, she can be found singing, cooking up a storm, or with her head stuck in a book.

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