Formalizing Flexible Space in Space-Use Analysis

Project: Research

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Improving building space efficiency is important because the floor area of a building is strongly related to its CO2 emissions and energy use, which affect the global temperature and sea levels. To improve the space efficiency, architects first need to predict the utilization (a measure of space efficiency) of the building space, based on their design and user information. Some utilization prediction methods have been recently developed to support this initiative, but they still cannot deal with flexible space (i.e., space that changes its configuration using movable components) although the use of such space has increased as it offers ease of re-configuration and higher building space efficiency. This lack of formalization of flexible space in predicting space utilization requires architects to make such prediction on an ad-hoc basis, which can be inaccurate and slow.To solve this problem, this project aims to formalize flexible space in space-use analysis, the most recent and advanced method for predicting space utilization. To fill the gaps in the existing theories, this project will (1) identify and define flexible space-use types that might affect space-use analysis, (2) develop ontologies to represent spaces and user activities, which distinguish between different flexible space-use types, (3) formalize a method for mapping user activities onto flexible and non-flexible spaces, and (4) develop a model view definition to connect the developed theories with a building information model (BIM), from which space information can be derived automatically and seamlessly. The final deliverable will be an Autodesk Revit add-on software that predicts the utilization based on the space information, taken directly from the BIM, and the user activity information entered into the software.Upon successful completion, this project will contribute to performance-based building by allowing architects to predict the space utilization of their designs quickly and comprehensively, and to revise them to include more efficient spaces. Such an improvement in efficiency will significantly contribute to both the sustainable environment and the building economy. For example, if architects could have reduced the floor area of the current projects in Hong Kong by 10%, they would have saved 350 Gg of CO2-equivalent in construction and 900 TJ of energy annually in operation, assuming that the buildings were office buildings. Architects would also have saved HK$10 billion in the construction costs of the buildings by the reduced floor area.


Project number9048080
Grant typeECS
Effective start/end date1/08/1615/12/16

    Research areas

  • Space efficiency , Flexible space , Space utilization , Space-use analysis , Building information model