As easy as playing a video game

Bringing digital to life 31 July 2018 Shane O'Brien

A new tool makes it much simpler to co-create virtual architecture and explore progress models of a building design.

6 min

You can see, show and discuss planned buildings using a new digital methodology where Ramboll takes co-creation to the maximum by giving the visualisation tool to clients themselves.

This is done by exporting the database design model at intervals to a standalone .exe file that renders the building information modelling (BIM) status of a building project, including all of its textures and landscape elements (trees, grass, etc.) as well as accurate sunlight simulations.

“The beauty of using an .exe file is that it is a standard file type – this means clients don’t have to install any software on their computers in order to run the simulation,” explains Shane O’Brien, Senior Architect at Ramboll. It is a completely self-contained presentation that is also platform  neutral, i.e., it will run equally well on both a PC and a Mac.

The .exe files are uploaded to the project cloud, where clients can download and explore them at their leisure, either on a standard PC or with a VR setup. Crucially, clients have no learning curve for navigating the model.

“It’s as simple as a basic video game,” says Shane O’Brien. He adds that the idea is to use the ‘fail fast’ principle.

“The project understanding that clients are afforded by navigating through the preliminary stage of a project and, for example, examining apartment layouts or running quick sunlight-simulations themselves allows for deeper client engagement and collaboration in the design process.”

A realistic sense of the project

The method has been used on the ‘Slaktaren’ project in Eslöv Municipality, Sweden (pictured), where the clients have been able to explore fully lit and textured navigable progress models of the design.

Sten Carling, Head of Real Estate Development at Eslöv, was introduced to the Enscape model to explore a planned block consisting of approximately 90 apartments.

“By using the model myself, I’ve been able to show the design of the planned buildings and discuss them with various stakeholders such as property managers, board members, city officials and others,” says Sten Carling.

“Exploring a 3D model makes it easy to get a realistic feeling for how the building design will look and fit into an urban area, and to identify issues that need further examination. The possibility to easily make sunlight studies has impressed us. The program is very easy to manage yourself, and it gives a realistic sense of the project. It almost hurts to run into a wall or fall off a balcony.”


Written by Helle Pryds Bruun and Michael Rothenborg

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