Exceeding standards with Advanced Simulation

Where the usual ends, Advanced Simulation begins. When designing buildings and their surroundings, it often comes down to ‘engineering judgement’. A technical foundation based on standards, guidelines and years of experience. Now that the boundaries of technology are being pushed, we find ourselves researching, designing and testing in unexplored territory. Advanced Simulation is indispensable to make this area accessible.
For ABT, it is essential to be able to simulate reality when breaking new grounds. In Advanced Simulation we use physical models that we validate with physical experiments and/or scientific literature. By collecting as much information as possible and performing advanced calculations, we are able to simulate the most diverse situations in a virtual world. This contributes to solving huge technical challenges within complex construction projects, the environment or specific issues.
Optimising with Advanced Simulation
Advanced Simulation is more than engineering beyond the guidelines; it offers benefits in the form of insights, new knowledge, savings and design freedom. Technical design can be optimised for a variety of themes: Safety, Comfort, Sustainability and Cost savings. For construction projects, the focus can be on one or more themes. All themes and supporting disciplines are included in Advanced Simulation.
Knowledge areas Advanced Simulation
Solving technical challenges requires specialists from a wide range of disciplines. With Advanced Simulation they can look at the big picture in a mono- or multidisciplinary context. This often comes down to three-dimensional calculations with finite elements or similar techniques. For example, geotechnical and structural engineering work together to make underground construction possible, whereas building physics and structural engineering work together to provide more insight into phenomena as wind currents, vibrations and fire safety.
The following knowledge areas are included in Advanced Simulation:
  • Urban and/or building physics, thermal and visual comfort, air quality
  • Geotechnical engineering and soil–structure interaction
  • Vibration consultancy
  • Concrete specials, civil engineering and infrastructure
  • Fire safety engineering
  • Membrane and cable structures
  • Blast safety engineering

These knowledge areas will be briefly explained.

Building physics & acoustics, thermal and visual comfort, air quality
Buildings have a great impact on their immediate surroundings. Not only aesthetically, but also physically. Invisible processes such as dust particles, odour, heat, radiation and air currents all interact with each other. Understanding the interaction of these processes is invaluable to a design team.
Afbeelding: Comfort

ABT uses state-of-the-art simulation techniques to map relationships between the physical processes in a building and within its surroundings. The results of a design including common problems are immediately visible. On the basis of this information, an optimal design is created in the areas of thermal comfort, air quality, passenger comfort (wind), urban and/or building physics, radiation, acoustics, emissions and odour.

Afbeelding: Urban Physics
Example projects: Post Office Rotterdam, Court of Amsterdam and Façade optimisation
Geotechnical engineering and soil–structure interaction
The behaviour of soil is complex, because of its stratification, the influence of groundwater, the loading history (‘memory’), time-dependent behaviour (creep) et cetera. Soil parameters can only be determined with relatively high uncertainty, which will also make the results of soil calculations uncertain.
Finite elements simulations provide insight into the effects of these uncertainties. In addition, the structure (in whole or part) is often added to the 3D model. This way there is no need to make simplified assumptions for the soil–structure interaction.
Example projects: Groninger Forum and Improvement IJsseldijk Gouda
Vibration consultancy
Structures are often calculated statically, without taking into account the time aspect of the load. If there are sources of vibration in the building or the surrounding area, static calculations are not always sufficient. In some cases, vibrations may lead to annoyance for people, interference with equipment, but also damage to the building or its surroundings.
Afbeelding: House of Delft
ABT will advise on the basis of guidelines, vibration measurements and/or advanced dynamic simulations. The impact of vibrations in existing situations can be mapped to gain insight and to take necessary actions. It is also possible to simulate the propagation of rail or pile driving vibrations or earthquakes through the subsoil. Vibrations are taken into account right from the preliminary design phase, preventing undesirable situations in the use phase.
Example projects: House of Delft and Betacampus Leiden
Concrete specials, civil engineering and infrastructure
Reinforced concrete is a widely used construction material in structural engineering, civil engineering and infrastructure. There are standards and guidelines for the calculation and detailing of concrete structures. However, many situations and conditions require more detailed analyses.
These may include cracking due to prevented deformations, but also complex 3D behaviour such as in wind turbine foundations. Hybrid structures with steel fibres in the concrete mix or the structural behaviour of floor systems in which adhesion layers and weight-saving elements are included can also be accurately simulated. For example, when it comes to wideslab or EPS flooring.
Example projects: Dry dock Royal Van Lent, Wind turbine foundation, Wide-slab floors and Railway bridge Zuidhorn
Fire safety engineering
In the event of a fire in a building, all persons present must be able to escape in good time. For this purpose, the building is normally divided into fire compartments, with partitions subject to fire-resistance requirements. But temperature loads used for this purpose never actually correspond to the real temperature development of a fire. However, the regular requirements usually lead to a safe design.
Afbeelding: Fire safety engineering (c) DIANA

Copyright DIANA

In a number of cases, this approach leads to an overly conservative design. Such as open buildings as car parks or industrial buildings and large enclosed spaces such as atriums or airport departure halls. Due to the limited amount of combustible material, the fire may not fully develop. In addition, the fire development in an atrium or departure hall of an airport will be influenced by air currents, sprinklers or smoke heat extraction. Fire Safety Engineering will map out a more realistic fire load for different scenarios. In addition, the impact of these fire scenarios on the structure is considered in its entirety.  This may lead to significant savings while still achieving the required level of safety.
Example projects: Court of Amsterdam and Fire Safety Engineering
Membrane and cable structures
Cables and sheets differ from other constructions in that they have to deform before they can absorb forces. This requires a different approach in their design, calculation and detailing.
With form-finding the ideal structural shape can be found for a specific load configuration. Membrane and cable structures can be used to build lightweight constructions creating large spans. Special variants are tensegrity constructions (combination of tension and compression bars) and inflatable constructions.
Example projects: Leidsche Rijn Bus shelter
Blast safety engineering
Some structures must be able to withstand special loads such as explosion or impact. For example, gas explosions as a result of fire or an accident, but also during terrorist attacks. Impact loads include collisions with vehicles or boats. As a result of the increase in building density, it will be necessary to build in areas with risks for incidental explosions in the future. The new Environment and Planning Act (Omgevingswet) will provide for this development.
Afbeelding: Advanced-Simulation

The characteristic of explosion loads is that a high peak pressure is applied in a very short time. This short impact will vibrate the structure, often resulting in damage. Advanced dynamic simulation is used to map out the conversion of energy, tests explosion resistance and provides insight into permanent damage.

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