Setting Up a Rhino Model


When creating a new Rhinoceros model for Umi, always use Meters as the unit system.

Step 1: Starting a new umi project

This step is important for the identification of a simulation file and population of simulation layers. 

Click on the "umi" button.

Start a new project, or open a new project

Make sure umi project layers have been populated.

There is no need to set site information or set building information at this point. Click on "Simulate" to setup layers specific to mobility.

Click on the "Mobility" icon on the left, and click on "Create amenity layers" to generate layers appropriate for mobility simulation.

Make sure mobility amenities layers have been populated.

Step 2: Modeling Streets, Buildings and Amenities 


On the Streets layer, streets can be drawn as any lines, curves or line-like curves. 


Building massing can take the form of any Brep, and are placed exclusively on the “Buildings” layer. This should be done by drawing geometry and then setting it up in the settings button.

Draw buildings as Breps

Choose the Brep and click on "Settings" to give the building a name. That is enough for mobility simulation.

IMPORTANT: Each Brep has to be connected to the streets network by a path that touches the massing. This is because the algorithm that generates a starting “egress” point for each building searches the start and end points of each curve in the model, and the nearest point becomes a door for the Walkscore simulation. If it is not connected, simulation will run by projecting an egress point to the nearest street, even if not connected.


Amenities are modeled as points on the streets network. They have to be placed precisely on a street curve, However, if they are not they will be projected to the nearest street line. A good tip is to use “OSnaps” to snap to the “Nearest” curve on the streets layer.

IMPORTANT: place amenity points on the streets network, but not on the end of the curve that touches the building massing. This will make the algorithm consider that “start” and “end” points the same, and Walkscore will fail.

The “Parks” amenity is the only amenity modeled as surfaces, and it has to be surrounded with street curves on all sides (regardless of the geometry). If a park is placed as a surface, it is recommended to model it by tracing an empty space between street curves.

Typically a Walkscore simulation will include streets, massings connected to the  streets, amenity points and park surfaces.

Step 3: Running a Simulation

After selecting the "Simulate" button, choose the “Mobility” tab. You can run both the Walkability simulation and the Bikeability Simulation by pressing "Run All." The next section explains how both algorithms work.

Step 4: Results Visualization

After a simulation runs, a new layer is created with simulation results. This will take the form of false colored buildings.

Previous: Introduction                                       Next: Customizing mobility assumptions

In Short

Umi is a Rhino-based design environment for architects and urban planners interested in modeling the environmental performance of neighborhoods and cities with respect to operational and embodied energy use, walkability and daylighting potential. Since 2012, Umi has been  developed by the Sustainable Design Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with support from a National Science Foundation EFRI_SEED project, the MIT Energy Initiative, the Kuwait-MIT Center, the Center for Complex Engineering Systems (CCES) at KACST and MIT, Transsolar Climate Engineering and United Technologies Corporation. Further tool developed is now also being conducted at the Environmental Systems Lab at Cornell University.

A first public version of Umi was released during a public symposium on Sustainable Urban Design on May 6th 2013 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Version 2.0, which also includes an embodied energy module, was released on November 7th 2014.

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