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Sun and Shadow analysis

How can we analyze sun and shadow around buildings in urban areas? In this video, Dr. Ico Broekhuizen explains how this can be done in Revit.
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In this video, we’ll be having a look at how to analyze sun access and shadows using Autodesk Revit. So here I have a model that I created previously. And if in the 3D view, if you, want to also see the shadows, I can turn those on using this small button here at the bottom of the screen. And Revit will then show the shadows of all the buildings in real time as we move around.
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To control the settings for the Sun, such as the location and the date and the time we can switch to this button to the left where you can first turn on the path of the Sun and then to specify the settings, we go to that, button again, under sun settings. And in the dialogue that shows up there, we can choose between a few different options. The still option will just show us for a single date and a single time what the sun looks like, which can be good to consider, but it’s usually more important that we consider the entire day or even multiple days.
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So you could select the single day option here, and you could then find the location of the project that you are interested in. In this case, I will just use this default value, this default location outside of Boston. But you can use whatever location you want. And you can also specify the date that you’re interested in. We can use the 1st of October as an example here, and you can specify the beginning time and the end time of the analysis. You can also switch to sunrise to sunset automatically.
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So Revit will calculate for us based on the location we specified and the date and the time where the Sun is going to be in the sky at different points in the day.
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We then click apply, we see that the shadows get updated. And now we have very long shadows because we are starting with the Sun here, very low in the sky. You can either move, just click and drag to move that around to different locations.
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Or you can also use the option here, where I chose the current date to change it to something else. If you then want to export all these images over the entire day, it is usually best to do that with the view straight from the top. We can also turn off the sun path in this case, so we just get the shadows without all the user interface details. You can zoom in a bit, so we just show the area that we are looking at. And then if you go to file and export and go down in this list a bit under images and animations, you find the option to export the solar.
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And here you can specify if you want to export all the frames or just a subset of them. And you can also specify the dimensions and what visual style should be used. So when you then click OK, it will ask you where you want
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to store the resulting files.
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And you can then either choose to store this as a video, so it will show you like a time lapse of how the Sun is moving, but it’s quite often more useful to store a series of images and preferably something like PNG, which supports transparency. I’ll show you why in a minute. So you see Revit is going through all the shadows and exporting all these files. And then what we will do is use an image editing program to combine all of these into a single image. Here is an example I prepared earlier. So what I’ve done - in this case, I’m using Inkscape - any image editing program that allows you to create multiple layers will work just as well.
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So I’ve taken all of the images I created before and added all of these individual layers. So each layer contains the buildings in exactly the same place, but with just the shadows moving around. So if you turn on all of these layers. We get an overlaid view of all of the shadows as they happen throughout today. And here I’ve set the opacity of each layer to 40 percent and you can change that value around depending on how dark you want the shadows to look.
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And then what you can see, especially if we zoom in a little bit here, is that some areas that are very dark gray Those are the areas that are in the shadow, the whole time and the areas that are much lighter gray are only in the shadow or part of the day. So this allows you to quickly identify areas that got a lot of sun access and are good for outdoor activities.

Autodesk Revit makes it easy to visualize sun and shadows around buildings for different locations around the world and for different times of the year and the day. In this video, Dr. Ico Broekhuizen will show you how to do this and how to export the results to an image editing program for further editing.

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