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  • Günter Wenzel
    Günter Wenzel

    Virtual Environments

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    Fraunhofer IAO
    Nobelstraße 12
    70569 Stuttgart, Germany

    • Phone +49 711 970-2244
Building Information Modeling © Stefan Heigl
Gebäude 4.0: IAO-Wissenschaftler Günter Wenzel zeigt Bundesbauministerin Barbara Hendricks am Stand der Fraunhofer-Allianz Bau, wie man bei digitalen Gebäudemodellen mit einem »Röntgenblick« Gebäudetechnik hinter den Wänden sichtbar machen kann.

Fraunhofer IAO presents possible solutions for the future of construction

What direction are developments in the building industry taking? What will global megatrends in planning, constructing and operating buildings require in terms of technologies and processes, and what consequences will they have? At BAU, the world’s leading trade fair for architecture, materials and systems, Fraunhofer IAO will be presenting building information modeling (BIM). The trade fair will take place in Munich from January 16 to 21, 2017.

Digitalization is currently changing work methods and processes in many parts of the world. The potential that can be harnessed from connectivity and digital work methods is particularly great in the construction industry, since many of those involved in this sector use highly complex processes. The magic word that will soon make everything faster, easier and more economical is BIM: building information modeling is a work method that uses digital, object-oriented information for planning, constructing and running a building or an infrastructure project.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institutes for Industrial Engineering IAO and for Building Physics IBP aim to promote this working method in Germany, and to gather practical experience and generate recommendations. To this end, through the “BIM in Germany” (BIMiD) project, and with funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), they are assisting two construction projects using BIM: a Volkswagen Financial Services building in Braunschweig; and the Pionierkaserne office complex in Ingolstadt.

”BIM is extremely effective,” explains Günter Wenzel, head of department at Fraunhofer IAO. “Multilateral stereo projection environments and virtual reality techniques enable building professionals and contractors to come together in construction meetings to experience the latest planning status naturally and intuitively, eliminating the need for laborious explanations. This also boosts efficiency: things that previously took two to three meetings can now be done in just one.”

New forms of communication with users and the public

But construction professionals aren’t the only ones who benefit from BIM – easy-to-understand visualization tools also take future users of the buildings into account. When included in planning and participation procedures, even laypeople can better understand the complex issues involved and thus contribute valuable empirical knowledge to the planning process. We are also seeing new forms of communication in public participation procedures. Previously, many members of the public had the feeling that they were being shown embellished versions of draft designs for planned construction projects. BIM now makes it possible for them to view the latest project planning status in an easy-to-understand and credible 1:1 virtual model. The result is greater acceptance and a goal-oriented and objective discussion of the construction project.

Fraunhofer IAO supports the digital transformation

Fraunhofer IAO is particularly interested in introducing digitalization in the construction industry. At present, one focus area of digitalization is the building planning phase. For the future, the aim is to tap as-yet unexploited potential, especially in a building’s use phase. Because the building’s digital twin combines the data models of the building with those of the use processes, it constitutes a synchronous image of the building, thus supporting operating processes and improving efficiency.

Fraunhofer IAO’s Center for Virtual Engineering ZVE is a prime example of how building planning can include all parties involved by using a centralized, digital building model, the “digital twin”: in regular virtual site inspections, all planners received simultaneous and transparent information on the planning status in a way they could “experience.”

Real-time visualization in Fraunhofer IAO’s Immersive Engineering Lab

For construction meetings, Fraunhofer IAO gives technical planners access to its Immersive Engineering Lab, a modern working and presentation environment that allows 3D displays for detailed, high-fidelity real-time visualizations. The main component of the laboratory is a high-resolution 3D projection system with a 5.5-meter-long and 3.4-meter-high powerwall and a built-in four-wall CAVE (cave automatic virtual environment). Interaction takes place using such technologies as multi-touch displays, 3D input devices and 3D real-time positioning systems.

The researchers from Fraunhofer IAO, IFF and IBP will present their BIM projects at the BAU trade fair in Munich from January 16 to 21, 2017. The institutes will continue to promote this three-dimensional planning method in the future, too: in the “BIM at Fraunhofer” project, they will introduce the working method in the Fraunhofer construction division and use it in a selected construction project.

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