Advanced Modelling for Comfort to Enhance the Experience of Shopping Centre Customers

November 29th, 2016

Today, shopping centres are all about “the experience”. When consumers go to shopping centres, they do not just want to purchase items, they want to be entertained, hence designs are radically changing to keep customers engaged. This can be seen with the advent of restaurants, bars, outdoor spaces and other entertainment options. Modern day shopping centres are becoming more like mini-cities than a mere retail outlet. The more the centre has on offer, the longer the consumer is likely to stay and also greater probability that they will return. Because of this, the designs are constantly evolving to suit the ever-changing consumer needs. It is therefore essential that consumer comfort is a high priority during the design phase to ensure the success of the retail performance and consumer experience. It has been seen that centres which do not consider this aspect suffering from a retail turnover decline and consumer complaint rate.

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Figure 1: Flow streams generated using CFD showing flow patterns over The Village section of Chermside Shopping Centre

Windtech Consultants have worked on a significant number of high profile shopping centres around the world. Our work has ensured the optimal design of the building in terms of wind, thermal comfort and daylight performance. Windtech’s capability for accurate thermal comfort modelling, particularly in the case of complex buildings, has previously been demonstrated through our work on the award winning Global Change Institute Building in Brisbane, Australia. Windtech’s hybrid modelling technique provides increased accuracy through the use of wind tunnel modelling to establish the boundary conditions for the effect of wind on the internal pressures and wind entry. Windtech have subsequently provided remedial advice for shopping centres which had underperformed in terms of the expected thermal comfort as they had not been analysed using Windtech’s more rigorous approach.

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Figure 2: The Chermside Shopping Centre model in the wind tunnel.

Being knowledgeable of the importance of the customer experience, Westfield commissioned Windtech Consultants to study the wind conditions and thermal comfort associated with the outdoor entertaining spaces and internal mall areas associated with the recent upgrade of the Chermside Shopping Centre in Brisbane, Australia. In addition to this, studies were also undertaken to determine the impact of wind-driven rain, wind entry effects, daylight illumination as well as wind loads on the external cladding to optimise the design of the development.

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Figure 3: Daylight Illumination Study within the Centre

From the detailed modelling undertaken, Windtech were able to develop solutions to improve the thermal comfort associated with The Village, an outdoor section of Westfield Chermside. A separate study was undertaken to help reduce heat loading on the glazed sections of the facade and pockets of areas exposed to heat build-up. The advanced modelling carried out by Windtech for shopping centres helps to ensure that developers/owners are able to obtain an accurate prediction of thermal comfort as well as keep up with the growing demands of modern-day shopping centres, improving the customer experience and overall performance.

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Figure 4: Thermal Comfort Study within and around the Centre

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