This study aims to clarify the summer microclimate in membrane structure buildings with semi-outdoor spaces and develop a computational simulation tool for designing a comfortable urban environment using membrane structures. Field measurements were conducted in a membrane structure building with a semi-outdoor space during a summer period. The present paper describes analysis results of measurement data for vertical distributions of air temperature and velocity under the membrane structure on clear sunny days. The following subjects were also discussed: (1) the effect of solar transmission on the warming of air temperature by the floor under the membrane structure; (2) the temperature reduction effect of ventilation by wind; (3) evaluation of thermal comfort in the living space under the membrane structure in terms of a thermal comfort index (new standard effective temperature: SET.). In order to demonstrate the capability to improve the thermal environment in the test membrane structure building, an evaporative cooling pavement was assumed to be applied to the ground under the membrane structure. The microclimatic modifying effect of this passive cooling strategy was evaluated using a numerical simulation method of coupling computational fluid dynamics (CFD) with a 3D-CAD-based thermal simulation tool developed by the authors' research group. Simulation results show that the proposed simulation method is capable of quantifying spatial distributions of surface temperature, air temperature, air velocity and moisture in the living space under the membrane structure. The thermal comfort index (SET*) can also be estimated using these simulated results. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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