Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 222222
Loughborough University

Centre for Innovative and Collaborative Construction Engineering


Dr David Brocklehurst


Pedestrian Flow Modelling – Benefits and Applications within Industry

Project Title

Pedestrian Flow Modelling – Benefits and Applications within Industry


Buro Happold Engineers Ltd


Dr D Pitfield
Professor VI Hanby

Dr Garry Palmer
Mr Mick Green

Director of Research:
Dr D Gillingwater

Research Period

2000 - 2004

Pedestrian Flow Modelling – Benefits and Applications within Industry


Fundamentally, buildings are designed so that the users can carry out tasks in an effective way (e.g. a shopping mall should be such that people get to see, and can find their way to, a number of items for purchase). However, there appears to be little thoroughly quantified research on the methods by which people carry out their tasks, make decisions, understand layouts (etc), with design relying heavily on intuition and experience. From discussions with various groups, it is considered that the quantification and modelling of people movement around new designs is an important next step in informing the design process.

In order to simply model a new design, and quickly gain appropriate information, it is considered that there are the following requirements:

• To determine predictable patterns of movement around built and open environments.
• A platform which can model behaviour (travel speeds, flow rates, congestion etc) and which will provide the designer with the required information (what people saw, how far they travelled etc).

There are a number of software products available which can model the movement of occupants around a building. Once simulating the occupants, the software provides the designer with levels of crowding, congestion around exits, distance travelled etc. There is then no reason why the software shouldn’t be advanced so that it returns data on what was seen, levels of noise made, when occupants got tired etc.

The first requirement is hence the main driver of this research.

Aims and Objectives

• The assessment of the state of the art in pedestrian flow modelling.
• The determination and prioritisation of the benefits to industry of modelling people movement.
• The determination of predictable and valuable patterns of movement and behaviour.
• The effective modelling of this movement and behaviour on a new design.

Method and Current Status

The current work being carried out is:

• Gathering associated literature.
• Investigation of modelling software.
• Determination of interested parties.
• Holding meeting with industry bodies to determine and prioritise benefits.
• Training in the pattern predicting methods.

Following this work, a number of areas will be targeted for field research into predictable patterns of movement and behaviour and modelling techniques used to reproduce the patterns of existing and new designs.

Benefits/Expected Outcomes

Determination of benefits is an integral part of the research.

• Enabling a designer to foresee such as congestion problems on stairs, in corridors, on escalators etc.
• Enabling a retail planner/architect to predict what mall arrangement would provide optimum footfall for shops.
• Enabling a museum consultant to predict the potential use of a new museum development.

The expected outcome is to be able to predict/model the movement of occupants around a new or modified building type and to use appropriate software to gain a level of industry valued information.

Together with circulation, there are also significant benefits relating to the modelling of people movement in an emergency. These are to be investigated further and the abstract updated in relation to such as fire evacuation.













Brocklehurst, D., et al., (2005). Crowd Circulation and Stadium Design: Low Flow Rate Systems, Structures and Buildings, 158(5), 1st October 2005, 281-289, ISSN09650911.

Brocklehurst, D., et al., (2005). Design and Space Planning for Secondary Schools: Considerations for Circulation Modelling, ICE Structures and Buildings Journal, 2006.

Brocklehurst, D. ... eta al. (2003). Overview of design issues relating to racecourse circulation., 2nd International Conference on Pedestrian and Evacuation Dynamics, for proceedings contact CMS Press, School of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, University of Greenwich, London, SE10 9LS, ISBN No. 1-904521-08-8.

Brocklehurst, D. ... eta al. (2004). Capacity Flows on Stadia Stairs: Potential for low flow rate systems, Paper presented to Human Behaviour in Fire Symposium, Belfast, September 2004, pp.

Brocklehurst, D. ... eta al. (2003). A comprehensive modern approach to developing simulation tools for real world fire engineering. 4th International Syposium on Human Behaviour in Fire Conference, 15th July 2009, 195-207.



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