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Visual assessment of BIPV retrofit design proposals for selected historical buildings using the saliency map method

Ran Xu, Stephen Wittkopf


With the increasing awareness of energy efficiency, many old buildings have to undergo a massive facade energy retrofit. How to predict the visual impact which solar installations on the aesthetic cultural value of these buildings has been a heated debate in Switzerland (and throughout the world). The usual evaluation method to describe the visual impact of BIPV is based on semantic and qualitative descriptors, and strongly dependent on personal preferences. The evaluation scale is therefore relative, flexible and imprecise. This paper proposes a new method to accurately measure the visual impact which BIPV installations have on a historical building by using the saliency map method. By imitating working principles of the human eye, it is measured how much the BIPV design proposals differ from the original building facade in the aspect of attracting human visual attention. The result is directly presented in a quantitative manner, and can be used to compare the fitness of different BIPV design proposals. The measuring process is numeric, objective and more precise.



BIPV, visual assessment, visual impact, solar retrofit, saliency map

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JFDE . ISSN 2213-3038