R&D: Crowd Simulation for Social Distancing Planning
R&D: Crowd Simulation for Social Distancing Planning

As an architect, I've explored a few tools used in the industry for crowd simulation and studies, and have noticed their use recently for designing spaces and managing facilities, specifically regarding social distancing due to the Covid-19 pandemic. So in my continuing exploration of Houdini, this is a quick test of its crowd simulation tools as a potential strategy in addressing the social distancing planning in lieu of other industry tools for these types of planning studies.

This quick test setup includes individuals walking through a walkway like that of an airport or mall with obstacles like kiosks which are to be navigated around. The crowd agents' points are used as a point cloud to define proximity and trigger a color change when any 2 or more individuals reach a threshold distance (such as 6 feet) between or among them. The changing color gradient on the floor follows the dynamic crowd agents as they navigate the walkway and obstacles. The gradient aims to highlight potential proximity densities as individuals start to get too close to each other and the color intensifies to red as areas of density form and increase. At the same time, the gradient also showcases areas along the walkway where the placement of the obstacles may be the cause of individuals moving into dense crowds, which could then be used in the planning and positioning of such obstacles to mitigate high density crowds.

This has shown me the potential of Houdini's crowd simulation tools for strategic designing and planning of architecture projects of all sorts, including airports, stadiums, which I aim to continue exploring with test BIM data. And it is yet another instance in which Houdini has shown itself to be quite a versatile tool.

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