MMM Group Looks to Better Understand Heat Distribution in a Bahá’í Temple for Potential HVAC System

Background

MMM Group (www.mmm.ca) is a leading planning, engineering, and management solutions provider. MMM focuses on cutting-edge, practical, and cost-effective solutions while offering a full range of in-house services through a multidisciplinary team of experts.

Once recent project was Bah’ Temple for South America, currently under construction in Santiago, Chile. The Temple was designed by Hairi Pontarini Architects and is the final continental Temple to be built by the Bah’ the faith.

The Bah’ Temple for South America, is striking and original design. The building consists of nine translucent “wings”, allowing sunlight to filter through during the day and emitting a faint glow from the interior lighting at night. The building won a Canadian Architect “Award of Excellence” in 2004, and the World Architecture News “Civic Building – Unbuilt” category in 2010.

This unique design has a gap between the two materials which doubles as a form of ducting for heating and air conditioning.

Challenge

The “wings” are made up of an inner layer of marble and an outer layer of cast glass which is designed to match the appearance of alabaster. This unique design has a gap between the two materials which doubles as a form of ducting for heating and air conditioning. This feature is used to efficiently distribute air evenly through slits in between the inner marble slabs.

The organic shape of the “wings” along with the irregular slits between the triangular slabs created difficulties for modeling the structure using standard HVAC tools. The translucent material allowing much of the sunlight through created additional complications for calculation of solar loads.

Solution

MMM Group asked SimuTech Group to simulate the fluid dynamics and heat distribution in the Temple and the effects of the proposed HVAC system. SimuTech Group made use of Ansys ICEM, an advanced meshing tool, to simplify the thousands of panes making up the organic wing design and create a fluid dynamic mesh inside the entire building.

Ansys CFD (computational fluid dynamics) was used to simulate the air flow inside the Temple. The simulations accounted for solar loads, heat generation due to large number of people, insulation of the materials in the wing, convection to ambient conditions outside the Temple, and air pumped by the HVAC system. Simulations were used to evaluate heating performance in winter and cooling in summer conditions to ensure comfort throughout the Temple. The simulations were used to help size and configure the HVAC system to be installed.

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