In Construction Design and Management (CDM) the Principal Designer is tasked with managing and monitoring health and safety during the design and planning stages.
The role requires someone who has skills, knowledge, experience and training (SKET) to be able to deliver the role competently.
Part of the difficulty in the job today is that plans are evaluated and reviewed in 2D format with elevations and in sections. While architects are trained over the years to think and be comfortable visualising in this way, not everyone involved in the process, including many clients can do the same and it makes it harder to spot issues, mistakes or safety issues.
Technology such as BIM (Building Information Modelling) and the production of virtual 3D models can change everything. By using BIM models and virtual reality headsets it is possible to walk around a building and find out any flaws at the design stage.
BIM Keeps Design Errors Kept To A Minimum
Currently, flaws in buildings are reviewed with post-occupancy evaluations after people have moved in, lived with the building and encountered problems that need to be rectified. The learnings are carried forward into future design projects so the same mistakes are not made again. With the use of BIM, it is possible that many potential mistakes can be avoided before the building is constructed saving not only money, but enhancing the experience of the building’s occupants from day one by removing niggles, design mistakes, or even major safety issues that would otherwise be missed during the design process. BIM allows the industry to develop a preventive pre-occupancy evaluation methodology rather than one that reacts to mistakes after construction is completed.
A Better Experience For Clients And Designers
BIM is also a much more immersive and engaging way for everyone involved to see the vision of a building, it is a way for it to become ‘real’ and almost tangible before it even exists. This is something especially useful and powerful for clients, but also for designers.
The industry has already been busy developing various BIM software tools and Virtual Reality experiences that allow feedback to be more constructive from users and delivered in a way that can then be used to make important design changes.
For example, clients and designers can view 3D models together look at the same elements in real time, and see important details such as how spaces work in relation to each other, the natural light, the views from different elevations and how the space may be filled. Alongside this, any safety or practical issues can be reviewed. Making these changes in this way saves money for the client and makes projects more profitable for designers, without the need to make emergency changes during a build.
What’s more, the workflow can be shared across a number of different virtual reality devices.
Design software can support VR devices such as Oculus Go making it even more accessible for coordination meetings.
Another advantage for using VR tools is the ability to detect issues at real scale and use headsets to record comments and let the application transcribe it into text which can then be attached to the specific elements in the design. This process feels similar to using other artificial Intelligence (AI) voice tools such as Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri. All that users need to do is press a button and comment.
With these kinds of AI tools, as soon as issues are identified, a report can be produced in the form of a PDF file. Typically the PDF files can be comprised of an automated mark-up, a saved viewpoint, and a comment on the issue. There will also be a timestamp and a note of who the author was. How these are presented will vary depending on the VR software used by the designers.
Virtual Reality Brings The World Closer Together
AI tools also excel when it comes to receiving feedback. They are able to make the whole process very simple and less time-consuming. Using AI and VR in this sense has proven that it can complement existing coordination tools. It has also been found to deliver great results when working on collaborative projects even with remote external consultants.
AI and BIM can also go beyond the design stage and be used in building maintenance, with detailed models able to help pinpoint issues within the structure and its services.
It’s clear that even though BIM and the use of AI is still not fully evolved and in use in all building projects, the potential is there to change the way designers work and how building plans are developed in the future.