Virtual Construction Modeling Enhances Benefits of BIM for Architectural Firms
Virtual construction modeling is where design and construction teams join hands to simulate every single step, across the construction project and convey the actual design intent, even before the actual construction work begins on the construction or fabrication site.
It is going to be a big thing, at least for the next decade. So irrespective of whether it is AR or VR, architectural firms will have to align their service offerings in tune to their client requirements. Like once the AEC industry moved from pen and paper blueprints to CAD drawings, virtual construction modeling has slowly, but steadily started changing the way construction projects are addressed to, and completed.
Currently, architects or for that matter leading players in the Architecture, Engineering & Construction (AEC) industry offer a set of 2D drawings which includes floor plans, elevations, sections, kitchen and lighting layout and a few more basic elements. However, with the kind of growth expected in the VR industry, clients will get ample exposure to AR/VR may be when they watch it implemented in some other project or another AEC service provider. AR and VR have the potential to mesmerize people, and so it will be natural phenomena that clients would start expecting VR or AR to form an integral part of the construction design process.
The biggest challenges that architects and architectural firms face is the lack of experience working with AR or VR, and hence are not aware of where to start from. The technology advances are many and very fast, and coping up with all of them while focusing on core business activities take its toll. Secondly, most of the organizations are running the race to reach the break-even, and so consider trainings, installing software, upgrading high-end graphic cards and advanced computers etc. to be an additional liability. So then how architectural firms can use virtual construction modeling in design processes?
To start with, architectural firms should accept the fact that virtual construction modeling will certainly provide an edge to the company by increasing the profitability, ROI and successful completion of construction projects. Secondly they should outsource architectural BIM services in order to eliminate the teething issues of additional investment in infrastructure, technology and manpower management. Other measures include:
- Use BIM for architectural visualization
Not to forget that architectural BIM modeling supports seamless 3D rendering, as the models developed for building information modeling can be used extensively for photorealistic renderings too. Furthermore, the same model can be utilized into Architectural walkthrough or AR/VR about which we will talk in our next point. 3D modeling is the process of converting the 2D plans or hand-drawn conceptual sketches into virtual yet realistic models to give a helping hand to sales and marketing teams.
- Basic VR Walkthroughs
How many clients of an architectural firm know how to read and understand 2D drawings? A usual customer most probably would not know how to do it. Even an experience professional at times finds it difficult to visualize how big a 4m x 4m bedroom is and how the furniture will fit in, leaving how much space to walk around. And this is exactly where VR walks in with its benefits.
Architects can put the client inside a full scale 3D model to make them understand how big the room is – which in no way is possible with 2D plans and even 3D models on huge computer screens. This pulls down the technical challenge between the architects and the customers. Now the client is equipped to share a detailed feedback basis the actual understanding of the design. Gathering client feedback on the go might sound a bit daunting when your project schedules are chasing deadlines, however it is still a better situation than getting ridiculing feedbacks who do not even understand your designs.
Architectural firms can use these walkthroughs for winning construction projects. Use of VR at proposal meetings, architects can make the client walk through the most critical aspects of the design. In case there is a particular part which is difficult to design, the client with help of VR would be able to see what the issue is actually, and can get less argumentative if the difficult in designing would increase the costs. It also increases the faith and trustworthy, as nothing stays hidden from them.
It has been ages that architects and building designers have been using drawings and models to display and explain design and intent. But AEC industry has entered an era where architects can leverage virtual reality to make their clients walk through buildings which don’t even exist.