Conference PaperPDF Available

A Workflow for Managing Building Information and Performance Data using Virtual Reality: An Alternative to BIM for Existing Buildings?


Abstract and Figures

Building information modelling (BIM) has carved a growing niche in the construction industry for the support of new building projects. The same cannot be said for existing buildings, where the prevalence of uncertain data, and unclear information, has been difficult to reconcile with the unambiguous nature of BIM parameterization. An opportunity to alleviate these challenges may have arrived from the recent boon of virtual reality platforms for navigating physical environments. This paper demonstrates how labeling of equirectangular images with data or text widgets is possible using publicly-available software libraries. A prototype is presented and tested on a building in Singapore.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Proceedings of the 15th IBPSA Conference
San Francisco, CA, USA, Aug. 7-9, 2017
A workflow for managing building information and performance data using
virtual reality: an alternative to BIM for existing buildings?
Adam Rysanek, Clayton Miller, Arno Schlueter
Chair of Architecture and Building Systems
Institute of Technology in Architecture, ETH Zurich, Z¨urich, Switzerland
Building information modelling (BIM) has carved a
growing niche in the construction industry for the
support of new building projects. The same can-
not be said for existing buildings, where the preva-
lence of uncertain data, and unclear information, has
been difficult to reconcile with the unambiguous na-
ture of BIM parameterization. An opportunity to
alleviate these challenges may have arrived from the
recent boon of virtual reality platforms for navigating
physical environments. This paper demonstrates how
labeling of equirectangular images with data or text
widgets is possible using publicly-available software
libraries. A prototype is presented and tested on a
building in Singapore.
Since the early 2000s, building information modelling
(BIM) has carved a growing niche in the construction
planning industry for the development and support
of new building projects. To the uninitiated, BIM
can be described as an interdisciplinary, structured
systems design and modelling framework that allows
for precise, physics-centric planning of architectural,
structural, mechanical, and electrical systems (Mi-
ettinen and Paavola, 2014). How this framework is
interpreted and used in practice does vary, however,
and is attributed to differing technical capabilities of
individual commercial tools and user requirements.
A detailed review of modern BIM tools and their
capabilities for new building design is provided by
Azhar (2011).
The focus of this paper is the application of BIM
specifically to the existing building - a topic that
has emerged recently as its own research subdomain.
Volk et al. (2014) provide a comprehensive review of
recent research literature on the application of BIM
to existing buildings. The authors also provide a
relevant enumeration of previously-stated function-
alities of BIM in regards to the existing building.
This publication infers that the most-cited features
of BIM for existing buildings, whether they already
exist or are being proposed, are:
Documentation, data management and visual-
Energy, thermal analysis, and lighting simulation
Deviation analysis, quality control, and defect
Localization of building components and indoor
Life-cycle assessment
Facilities management, operations and mainte-
Monitoring and performance measurement
As stated in Volk et al. (2014), the prevalence of
uncertain data and unclear or hidden semantic
information has been difficult to reconcile with the
unambiguous nature of BIM parameterization. The
creation of a BIM model for an existing building is
considered to be an inherently more complex and
costly exercise than an application to a new building.
For existing buildings, a BIM modeller is likely to
have more insufficient or inadequate documentation
about the existing built environment, especially for
the oldest of buildings. Ilter and Ergen (2015) draw
a similar conclusion.
Interesting technology solutions to these challenges
have been proposed. For example, Jung et al.
(2014) presents a promising, sophisticated method of
interpreting scanned, 3D point cloud data of interior
spaces in order to construct a digital model that can
be interpreted and incorporated into professional
BIM software such as Revit. A review of similar
approaches developed in prior research is undertaken
by Tang et al. (2010).
In this paper, we propose that there may already ex-
ist a completely alternative suite of software tools and
libraries that can formulate user-building interfaces
with many of the features of BIMs that are stated by
Volk et al. to be desirable for existing buildings. Our
proposal relies on a complete replacement of the typ-
ically bottom-up, closed-source engineering software
architecture with a long-used web-based software de-
velopment framework: the mashup.
Proceedings of the 15th IBPSA Conference
San Francisco, CA, USA, Aug. 7-9, 2017
Proposal and scope of paper
This paper will demonstrate how recently developed
open-source JavaScript (JS) frameworks and applica-
tion programming interfaces (APIs) for virtual real-
ity applications have made it possible to create, with
relative ease, a software ’mashup’ providing similar
functionality to present-day BIMs - at least for exist-
ing buildings. In the following sections, we describe
the structure of an example tool, the APIs utilized,
and explore capabilities of the tool through applica-
tion of a case study. It will also be shown that one
of the key enablers of this work, and the presented
case study, has been the implementation of a build-
ing management system featuring remote accessibil-
ity of real-time data from the web. Overall, the au-
thors aim for this paper to be an introductory effort
on the development of VR-based applications in the
building sciences using the latest generation of soft-
ware and hardware tools. Hence, more emphasis is
placed on describing the basis for the developed work-
flow, and its programming components, rather than
proving the capabilities of the developed example tool
against one or more existing BIMs. Such an under-
taking must form part of a necessary future work.
The mashup: a powerful web-based strat-
egy for next generation building performance
modelling tools
Mashups are web-based software tools that rely pri-
marily on pre-existing open-source software code to
perform the majority of their intended functions or
tasks. Such ’pre-existing software code’ is known
in the formal context as one or several APIs. The
behaviour and utilization of APIs in a web soft-
ware development hierarchy is similar to the use of
’modelling components’ in systems engineering mod-
els. The thermal systems simulation software, TRN-
SYS (TESS, 2009), provides a good analogy to un-
derstanding the use of APIs. Like APIs, TRNSYS
”Types” receive input conditions from the outputs of
other Types, perform a computational function inter-
nally to themselves, and then submit generated out-
puts to Types that are further along in the simulation
hierarchy. This process is repeated per user-defined
time-step over a user-defined time series. One of the
key advantages of TRNSYS is that regular users can
focus on developing an overall systems model instead
of undertaking bottom-up programming of each in-
dividual physical process carried out by a Type. Li-
braries of formally established Types have been devel-
oped previously by scientific experts and are readily
available to TRNSYS users. The separation between
general user and the Type/component developer in
the example of TRNSYS is directly analogous to the
creation of mashups by different types of web software
developers, with general programmers able to utilize
APIs developed by other experts.
A brief introduction to JavaScript
A mashup presented in this paper has been devel-
oped in JavaScript (JS), a widely-used programming
language for web applications and programmatic web
services. As not all readers may be familiar with JS
and how it compares to other languages, a brief intro-
duction is made here. JS is a high-level, interpreted
programming language comparable to Python and
Perl. The language emerged in the 1990s to become
one of the three technical pillars of the web, along-
side HTML and CSS. The difference between HTML,
CSS, and JS is made evident by the three keywords
that define their typical use. These are, respectively:
content, style, and algorithms. Hypertext Markup
Language (HTML) scripts contain written code de-
scribing a website’s static content and structure. Cas-
cading style sheets (CSS) scripts contain written code
largely for describing and interpreting the visual style
of a website. JS scripts contain written code for all
forms of algorithmic processes a website may per-
form, including dynamic re-writing of HTML and
CSS content. In the web’s early days, compilation
and rendering of HTML, CSS, and JS script would
happen client-side, or in the user’s browser. Hence,
a user’s own processing hardware would be used to
interpret JS script into machine code and execute it
accordingly. Today, complex JS-based programs, like
Google Docs, are too sophisticated to be downloaded,
interpreted and executed by each user’s desktop PC
or smartphone. Instead, large JS-based applications
are interpreted and executed server-side, or remotely
on web servers using one of several available JS run-
time environments.
Prior development of virtual reality applica-
tions for the built environment
Virtual reality (VR) has been a sort of buzzword in
the building science community since the mid-1990s
when the first generation of VR technologies was de-
veloped and promoted. Already at that time, VR and
the related technology known as augmented reality
(AR), were identified as possible future tools to assist
with building design, facilities management, and sim-
ulation of building occupants’ experiences (Whyte,
2002; Walczak and Cellary, 2002; Leinonen and Khk-
nen, 2000; Whyte et al., 2000). Research in this area
appeared to peak and then decline in the early 2000s
as it became a matter for commercial entities to re-
alize the ideas and prototypes developed first in re-
search (Freitas and Ruschel, 2013). In that time, two
barriers became evident which eventually limited any
significant use of VR in the construction industry
(Greenwood et al., 2008): 1) the expertise required
to develop a VR application, as well as the compu-
tational effort and costs required to manage one, was
prohibitive; 2) the available graphics-rendering and
VR technology of the time could not create a con-
vincing user experience.
Proceedings of the 15th IBPSA Conference
San Francisco, CA, USA, Aug. 7-9, 2017
What is different today, and is the basis for this
work, is that the second generation of commercially-
developed VR-technology, which emerged around
2011-2013, has made it considerably easier and
cheaper to realise convincing VR applications (Amer
and Peralez, 2014). In the current era of VR, applica-
tions can be programmed using more commonly used
and streamlined programming languages. The data
driving these applications is now more cheaply pro-
cessed and easily communicated used ’cloud services’,
driven by the same programming languages used for
VR software development. Last, entire VR experi-
ences can be generated and projected on an already-
ubiquitously owned technology: the smartphone.
Case Study Building
Over 2014-2015, a 550 m2office space was constructed
in Singapore to serve as a living laboratory of the
’3for2 Beyond Efficiency’ concept. The office space,
known further in this paper as the case study building,
serves as a research, development, and demonstration
platform for technologies and building design mea-
sures that can achieve combined energy, space, and
material savings in high-rise buildings. Highly instru-
mented with sensors, the case study building is also
being simultaneously used to research new techniques
for intelligent building control and data analysis. It is
from research on the latter topic that this paper has
emerged. An illustration of the case study building is
provided in figure 1 and further information can be
found in Schlueter et al. (2016).
Data collection and processing from the case
study’s building management system
At the most fundamental software level within the
modern building, measured building sensor data is
created by building management systems (BMS).
A comprehensive BMS network regulates numerous
sensors, actuators, and the networked devices that
facilitate communication between each node. The
main focus of a BMS is to control the systems in a
building to keep occupants thermally and visually
comfortable, and healthy. A secondary function of
the BMS, though intrinsically linked to its main
function, is the collection and communication of
sensor data measurements. The data storage and
analysis functionality of conventional BMS has
improved over the years due to various database and
network technology improvements.
Our case study building features a modern Siemens
Desigo CC BMS. It interacts with over 1,000 sensors
and control points that have been installed primar-
ily to support the wide research aims of the project.
These points include air temperature, humidity, and
CO2sensors, temperature and flow sensors for chilled
water, valve positions, energy meters, and many oth-
ers. One of the features of the BMS in the targeted
case study is that the BMS’ proprietary data server is
accessible in real-time through a web-portal accessi-
ble through a representational state transfer (REST)
API, to be discussed in the following section. This
simply-described product feature has a far-reaching
implications, as its been the main technology factor
enabling the wider work described below.
Mashup for visualizing and managing
real-time building information in VR
Structure of the mashup and workflow
An example mashup demonstrating a VR-based
building information management tool has been
developed for this work, with its structure illustrated
in figure 2. The mashup utilizes open-source APIs
for VR rendering and data management, A-Frame
and REST, which are described further below.
The connection of the APIs to each other, including
the formatting and processing of visualized data, is
programmed in Javascript. This is the main part of
the mashup that has required in-house bottom-up
development. Meteor.js serves as as the overall
framework, or wrapper, for the mashup. It is used to
launch the tool on a web server, making it accessible
to users of normal web browsers.
Additional applications and software code required
for this work have included the Google Street View
app - for generating equirectangular images of interior
spaces, and Python - for processing raw BMS data
and pushing data to a cloud database.
Meteor.js: An open-source framework for de-
veloping, packaging, and deploying JavaScript
Meteor.js is an established framework unto which one
can organize the various JS scripts and external JS
libraries/APIs necessary to execute a large JS-based
software program. It has developed a niche partic-
ularly for the development of web applications that
require interaction and visualization of real-time data
to users. Meteor.js apps are heavily integrated with
MongoDB data servers, which manage the storage
and transmission real-time data. MongoDB is an
open-source document-oriented database program
particularly applicable to JS-based web applications.
In programming Meteor.js apps, one can establish
links between different APIs and custom user-defined
JS scripts that call each other dynamically - such as a
condition driven by real-time data. For example, let’s
propose that a Meteor.js app calls an API to pull real-
time data from a 3rd-party web service - perhaps a
website that generates the score of a football match
in real-time. The app can create a dynamic link with
this data feed in such a way that a subsequent al-
gorithm is triggered only upon a change in value -
i.e, a change in the match’s score. A very simply
Proceedings of the 15th IBPSA Conference
San Francisco, CA, USA, Aug. 7-9, 2017
Figure 1: Overview of case study building: the 3for2 living laboratory in Singapore (from (Schlueter et al.,
2016), with permission)
Meteor.js app based on this example could link the
data feed API to a visualization API which updates
a web browser-displayed data graph of the match’s
score when the score has changed. Again, the use of
pre-existing APIs means that the programmer of this
app would only need to code the links and conditions
between the APIs, not necessarily the bottom-up pro-
gram of the data feed and visualization.
For our current application, we are using Meteor.js
in a very similar fashion as the example above. The
management and visualization of data is largely han-
dled by pre-existing APIs, with our programming
code only establishing the dynamic links between
these APIs and between the overall app and the web-
browser. More information about Meteor.js, its ori-
gins and use, can be found in the book of Coleman
and Greif (2015).
REST API for standardized data exchange be-
tween web services
One of the features of the BMS in the targeted case
study is the aforementioned REST API that enables
the real-time collection of sensor data through a web-
services portal. This interface enables two-way in-
teroperability between the case study’s BMS and the
internet. REST is a set of guidelines to facilitate
the exchange of data using HTTP through a base
URL and various methods such as GET, PUT and
POST. While not a strict standard, REST-ful web
interfaces have several common features which enable
a knowledgeable programmer to quickly connect and
extract information without prior experience (Pau-
tasso et al., 2014). These features include program-
ming architectural constraints that influence simplic-
ity, performance and scalability. In the case study,
a Python data extraction program executed on the
BMS server queries measured data from the BMS at
regular intervals, and posts this data to an InfluxDB
cloud database via REST.
Time-series data management
InfluxDB is a database technology developed specif-
ically for time-series data storage and management
(InfluxData, 2016). This database is available
Proceedings of the 15th IBPSA Conference
San Francisco, CA, USA, Aug. 7-9, 2017
User navigates through interior
spaces and data using VR headset or
web browser
BMS Network
(i.e., BACnet)
The mashup
(Meteor.js web app)
User processes User allocates position, orientation,
ID tag, and textual notes to data
widgets and infographics
User captures 15-25 photos of a
virtual sphere in designated interior
locations, using a smartphone
Google StreetView auto-stitches
photos into equirectangular image
Equirectangular image and data /
information widgets projected
together onto navigable photo sphere
Cloud database allows for data I/O
BMS data sniffed, formatted, and
pushed to cloud database
Raw data collected from sensors
and control points
A-Frame API
JavaScript / JSON
New automated script / process
developed for thsi work
Existing automated script / process
using free or open-source software
User experience and required user
processes for this work
Figure 2: Overview of workflow; processes depicted in blue and black operate in real-time
through an MIT open source license and has no de-
pendencies. It is purpose-built for temporal data and
requires no special schema design for time-stamped
data and numerous time-centric functions are avail-
able in its use. The InfluxDB database used in the
prototype application, being updated in real-time, is
called dynamically by the application’s A-Frame API
during rendering of VR scenes to a user’s display.
A-Frame: API for the creation of cross-
platform virtual reality applications
A-Frame is an open-source API for processing
dynamic VR content on a web server, and rendering
it in real-time within web browsers using conven-
tional HTML (A-Frame, 2016). The capabilities
of A-Frame far exceed the attributes used for this
study, hence we will describe mainly the features of
the API we have relied upon.
For the prototype application, in each rendered VR
scene, the API receives as inputs:
a static equirectangular image of the interior
space to be rendered in VR
a list and description of data and text widgets to
display in the VR environment
a unique data identification number that relates
data widgets to their appropriate output from
a list of coordinates indicating the desired loca-
tions the data and text widgets in the VR space
Linking the data widgets to the REST API is dy-
namic, hence the values displayed by the widgets in
VR is updated in real-time.
Google Street View Application
Google Street View is a mobile application avail-
able on both the Android and iOS platforms. Using
Google Street View, one can automatically generate
equirectangular images of surrounding spaces using
a smartphone’s camera. ’Equirectangular images’ re-
fer to rasterized, composite 2D images of entire 3D
photo spheres. They are a standard image format
used for rendering static, real-image scenes in VR.
As we assume that smartphones are owned by many,
if not virtually all professionals in technical trades,
we view Google Street View as an effective, fast, and
ultimately free tool for generating spherical images
of interior spaces in lieu of more advanced hardware.
The VR scenes of our following case study have all
been captured originally using iPhone6 smartphone
and Google Street View version 2.6.1 (Google Inc.,
Use of prototype tool
Creation of scenes and allocation of widget co-
As previously described, the generation of equirect-
angular images of interior spaces is handled automat-
ically by the Street View app. Using the app, it takes
approximately 1 to 1.5 minutes to generate a single
equirectangular image of an interior space. The posi-
tion and placement of data and information widgets
in virtual interior spaces must currently be done man-
ually by a user in a text-based format. In the current
version of the mashup, a user must estimate by trial-
and-error the Cartesian coordinates of each widget
Proceedings of the 15th IBPSA Conference
San Francisco, CA, USA, Aug. 7-9, 2017
Figure 3: Overview of the VR application: Streamed data and prior stored information widgets overlaid onto
an equirectangular image of a building interior
in relation to a defined origin point: the centroid of
the virtual interior space. This must also be done ex-
ante to the use of tool so that A-Frame can correctly
position widgets on generation of a virtual scene.
Rendering and navigation between virtual
The rendering of interior spaces is done automatically
by the A-Frame API, with data widgets updated in
real-time via the REST API. An illustration of the
final tool’s composition, in terms of the user experi-
ence, is provided in figure 3. With a VR headset, such
as a Google Cardboard viewer, a user can interact
with the space by rotating their head and examining
their surroundings. As we have developed the tool
with a button-less interface, users currently interact
with the space based on the duration of time they
look at a particular element on display. For instance,
users can navigate between spaces by staring directly
at floating spheres that depict a possible next desti-
nation. An example is shown in figure 4.a. It should
be stated that a VR headset is not required to inter-
act with the application. Desktop PC users can view
the experience in a 2D web browser.
Example uses
At the time of writing, a prototype deployment of the
application can be viewed online here: Figure 4 provides
static images depicting key features of the prototype.
Discussion of results and future work
The simple prototype tool presented in this work,
and illustrated by example in the previous section,
currently offers capabilities comparable to present
BIMs, such as documentation, data management,
visualization, defect detection, indoor navigation,
and identifying the location of building components.
The main disadvantage of the new workflow is that,
at this time, the user parameterization of data
widget locations and orientations (currently specified
in spherical coordinates) may be considered non-
intuitive to non-specialist users. It would be more
efficient and intuitive if users could interact with
widgets directly in the VR environment, including
editing, redrawing, and repositioning them.
These advantages and disadvantages are limited to
the view of the authors of this study, however, and
this in and of itself can be considered a limitation
of this overall work. Testing of the proposed tool
with a regular user base, preferably users of existing
BIMs, is required in the future.
However, what became evident from the development
of the prototype tool in this work was the ease at
which an apparently powerful VR applications can
be programmed and deployed. The prototype tool
presented in the previous sections was produced
by a single software programmer in 15 working
days, working under the supervision of a team of
building scientist researchers. This short duration
of work must be put into context when comparing
the capabilities of the prototype to large-scale
commercially developed BIM programs. Similarly,
this short duration effort provides evidence of the
strength of JavaScript ’mashups’. Increasingly
Proceedings of the 15th IBPSA Conference
San Francisco, CA, USA, Aug. 7-9, 2017
Figure 4: Use examples of prototype tool developed for case study building
powerful web-driven software tools can be developed
quickly by leveraging existing application code in the
open-source community.
Within the period of writing this paper,
Google launched its successor to its Card-
board VR platform: Google Daydream
( Day-
dream will allow users to interact with web-based
VR environments using a low-cost, motion-tracking,
hand-held dongle. The incorporation of a hand-held
dongle into the prototype tool is seen to be a crucial
next step. By replacing manual, written allocation
of widget coordinates when configuring a VR interior
space, a dongle could be used to allow a user to
’drag-and-drop’ widgets in their desired location, as
well a edit information widgets in the VR mode.
This paper has not set out to make a case that
traditional BIM software is unnecessary for existing
buildings. However, a newly-developed and tested
workflow has been presented which indicates that
existing APIs for virtual reality, data visualization
and analytics may soon, if not already, allow software
developers to produce BIM-like applications with
considerably low effort.
Overall, we view it may serve the building simulation
community well to keep a closer eye on the rapidity in
which the open-source, cloud-based software commu-
nity is developing. New tools for data management,
processing, analytics, and visualization are increas-
ingly offering features desired by the building perfor-
mance simulation and analysis community. The pro-
gramming code behind the prototype workflow pre-
sented in the paper will be made publicly available at
the time of publication.
Proceedings of the 15th IBPSA Conference
San Francisco, CA, USA, Aug. 7-9, 2017
The authors would like to acknowledge Naor Biton,
the staff of United World College South-East Asia,
and the support of Siemens Building Technologies in
the development of this work.
A-Frame (2016). A-Frame.
Amer, A. and P. Peralez (2014, October). Af-
fordable altered perspectives: Making augmented
and virtual reality technology accessible. In
IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference
(GHTC 2014), pp. 603–608.
Azhar, S. (2011). Building Information Modeling
(BIM): Trends, Benefits, Risks, and Challenges for
the AEC Industry. Leadership and Management in
Engineering 11 (3), 241–252.
Coleman, T. and S. Greif (2015). Discover Meteor:
Building Real-Time Javascript Web Apps. E-book.
Freitas, M. R. d. and R. C. Ruschel (2013). What is
happening to virtual and augmented reality applied
to architecture? In 18th International Conference
on Computer-Aided Architecture Design Research
in Asia (CAADRIA 2013), pp. 407–416.
Google Inc. (2016). Google Street View.
Greenwood, D., M. Horne, E. M. Thompson, C. M.
Allwood, C. Wernemyr, and B. Westerdahl (2008,
January). Strategic Perspectives on the Use of Vir-
tual Reality within the Building Industries of Four
Countries. Architectural Engineering and Design
Management 4 (2), 85–98.
Ilter, D. and E. Ergen (2015, July). BIM for build-
ing refurbishment and maintenance: current status
and research directions. Structural Survey 33 (3),
InfluxData (2016). InfluxDB.
Jung, J., S. Hong, S. Jeong, S. Kim, H. Cho, S. Hong,
and J. Heo (2014, June). Productive modeling
for development of as-built BIM of existing indoor
structures. Automation in Construction 42, 68–77.
Leinonen, J. and K. Khknen (2000). New construc-
tion management practice based on the virtual re-
ality technology. In Construction Congress VI:
Building Together for a Better Tomorrow in an In-
creasingly Complex World, pp. 1014–1022.
Miettinen, R. and S. Paavola (2014, July). Beyond
the BIM utopia: Approaches to the development
and implementation of building information mod-
eling. Automation in Construction 43, 84–91.
Pautasso, C., E. Wilde, and R. Alarcon (Eds.) (2014).
REST: advanced research topics and practical ap-
plications. New York, NY Heidelberg Dordrecht:
Schlueter, A., A. Rysanek, C. Miller, J. Pantelic,
F. Meggers, M. Mast, M. Bruelisauer, and K. W.
Chen (2016). 3for2: Realizing Spatial, Material,
and Energy Savings through Integrated Design.
CTBUH Journal (II).
Tang, P., D. Huber, B. Akinci, R. Lipman, and A. Ly-
tle (2010, November). Automatic reconstruction
of as-built building information models from laser-
scanned point clouds: A review of related tech-
niques. Automation in Construction 19 (7), 829–
TESS (2009). TRNSYS 17.
Volk, R., J. Stengel, and F. Schultmann (2014,
March). Building Information Modeling (BIM) for
existing buildings Literature review and future
needs. Automation in Construction 38, 109–127.
Walczak, K. and W. Cellary (2002). Building
Database Applications of Virtual Reality with X-
VRML. In Proceedings of the Seventh International
Conference on 3D Web Technology, Web3D ’02,
New York, NY, USA, pp. 111–120. ACM.
Whyte, J. (2002). Virtual Reality and the Built En-
vironment. Routledge.
Whyte, J., N. Bouchlaghem, A. Thorpe, and R. Mc-
Caffer (2000). From CAD to virtual reality: mod-
elling approaches, data exchange and interactive
3d building design tools. Automation in Construc-
tion 10 (1), 43–55.
... Thus, their VT/IM environment shares building plans, previous conservation reports, image galleries, databases about past interventions and short descriptions of the conservation issues. (Rysanek et al., 2017) pointed out on weakness of Building Information Modelling (BIM) for conservation activities on existing buildings, caused by BIM parameterization, to propose Virtual Reality platforms for navigating physical environments, created with equirectangular images, labelled with data or text widgets. In the same direction, (Castagnetti et al., 2017;De Fino et al., 2019 andCantatore et al., 2020) proposed workflows for employing Virtual Reality with the aim of streamlining the management of technical knowledge in cultural heritage. ...
... The study of literature review and the VERBuM validation activities, illustrated in Section 3, have been useful to identify weaknesses, threats, strengths and opportunities of the VERBuM technology and the process (SWOT analysis). Some authors (Rysanek et al., 2017;Poux et al., 2020) stated that the processing of three-dimensional models from laser or photographic scans, as well as the creation of accurate HBIM models of historic buildings, can be unsustainable processes for some process actors, in terms of time and costs, as engineering and architecture services costs and instrumentation and software applications costs, as well as limitations related to the impossibility of acquisitions in inaccessible and dangerous environments. ...
Full-text available
The digital transformation of the construction sector is also involving cultural and architectural heritage conservation management to solve criticalities of information exchange in refurbishment/restoration, from the preliminary steps until the execution and monitoring of interventions. Nevertheless, time and resources required to complete digital models (point clouds, 3D meshes and HBIM model) are extensive and this can cause interruption of knowledge communication among professionals. The VERBuM project (Virtual Enhanced Reality For Building Modelling) aims at investigating how a central Virtual Technical Tour (VTT), would guarantee a continuous stream of information when other disruptive technologies are integrated in the process and their related products are linked to the VTT. The use of a VTT, based on 360° photos, may fill time and resources gaps as it is a rapid up-to-date and high-fidelityto-reality tool. The fostering of the paradigmatic change in refurbishment/restoration process requires the development of all-in-one digital environments for digital twinning of cultural and architectural heritage and its assessment, aware of potentialities and criticalities to be overcame. The research moves from stakeholders’ information requirements to implement the VERBuM process supported by the central VTT, editable via cloud-based platform (VERBuM product) to exchange digital contents, uploaded in different file format, but consulted in VR by all the involved actors via web services, without any software product installation. The tool has been evaluated via SWOT analysis supported by Task-Technology Fit (TTF) model and users’ perceptions. The results provide mitigation measures of threats related to distrust in use of VTT within working groups and fruition of point clouds, meshes and BIM models, possible via WebGL-based libraries.
... Overall, the Pembina report portrayed many of the challenges facing widespread uptake of building retrofits to be complex and interdependent. However, what emerged particularly clearly from the report, just as seen in the work of Ürge-Vorsatz et al. is that "insufficient knowledge" remains one of the most prevailing barriers affecting delivery of energy-efficient buildings in the province [26]. This research paper seeks to address the nature of knowledge transfer within the building industry, specifically how building design information, inclusive of building performance data, is collected, stored, shared, and ultimately implemented. ...
... While software and machine learning have, in many ways, made the operation of buildings simpler and more automated there still exists a gap for day-to-day maintenance -that is in person building maintenance. Researchers concerned with the maintenance and operation of buildings optimizing of building energy use during its lifetime have looked to enhancing day-to-day maintenance through augmented and virtual reality interfaces [26]. Through the DEPS sensor link live building data could be explored in person during maintenance walkthroughs or in emergency situations. ...
Conference Paper
This paper introduces a new filetype that has the potential to improve data analytics in the building sector. The aim of the paper is to explore the general logic and hierarchy of the file type, explore the mechanism in which it would transmit data, and define initial user groups and the process by which they would use the file and server system. The filetype utilizes a popular green building filetype (gbXML) as a base schema. The manner in which the base schema is expanded upon is explored in the paper to clarify how a live link to a building's automation system and utility network may be established in an Extensible Markup Language (XML) file format. The last section of the paper contributes several potential uses for the new filetype that will be put into place during the beta phase.
... For example, Nytsch-Geusen et al. developed a VR simulation environment using bi-directional data exchange between Unity and Modelica/Dymola [59]. Rysanek et al. developed a workflow for managing building information and performance data in VR with equirectangular image labeling methods [60]. For augmenting data on existing buildings, Malkawi et al. developed a Human Building Interaction system that uses Augmented Reality (AR) to visualize CFD simulations [61]. ...
Full-text available
This work introduces RadVR, a virtual reality tool for daylighting analysis that simultaneously combines qualitative assessments through immersive real-time renderings with quantitative physically correct daylighting simulations in a 6DOF virtual environment. By taking a 3D building model with material properties as input, RadVR allows users to (1) perform physically-based daylighting simulations via Radiance, (2) study sunlight in different hours-of-the-year, (3) interact with a 9-point-in-time matrix for the most representative times of the year, and (4) visualize, compare, and analyze daylighting simulation results. With an end-to-end workflow, RadVR integrates with 3D modeling software that is commonly used by building designers. Additionally, by conducting user experiments we compare the proposed system with DIVA for Rhino, a Radiance-based tool that uses conventional 2D-displays. The results show that RadVR can provide promising assistance in spatial understanding tasks, navigation, and sun position analysis in virtual reality.
... For example, for building performance evaluation, Nytsch-Geusen et al. developed VR visualizations using bi-directional data exchange between energy simulation tools and the Unity game engine [37]. The work of Rysanek et al. introduces a workflow for managing building information and performance data in VR with equirectangular image labeling methods [40]. Immersive interfaces have also been applied for structural investigations, finite element method simulations [18], and CFD visualizations [7,32] and urban simulations [12,44]. ...
Full-text available
Generative Design workflows have introduced alternative paradigms in the domain of computational design, allowing designers to generate large pools of valid solutions by defining a set of goals and constraints. However, analyzing and narrowing down the generated solution space, which usually consists of various high-dimensional properties, has been a major challenge in current generative workflows. By taking advantage of the interactive unbounded spatial exploration, and the visual immersion offered in virtual reality platforms, we propose V-Dream, a virtual reality generative analysis framework for exploring large-scale solution spaces. V-Dream proposes a hybrid search workflow in which a spatial stochastic search approach is combined with a recommender system allowing users to pick desired candidates and eliminate the undesired ones iteratively. In each cycle, V-Dream reorganizes the remaining options in clusters based on the defined features. Moreover, our framework allows users to inspect design solutions and evaluate their performance metrics in various hierarchical levels, assisting them in narrowing down the solution space through iterative cycles of search/select/re-clustering of the solutions in an immersive fashion. Finally, we present a prototype of our proposed framework, illustrating how users can navigate and narrow down desired solutions from a pool of over 16000 monitor stands generated by Autodesk's Dreamcatcher software.
Full-text available
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to present a strategic overview of the current literature on “Building information modelling (BIM) for Building Refurbishment and Maintenance” to unfold the factors behind the relative underdeveloped state of the field and to contribute to the development of a more cumulative knowledge base by presenting the current status and suggesting future directions for research. Design/methodology/approach – A systematic review of the literature has been undertaken by classifying and mapping the literature, identifying the input-output relations, exhibiting the areas focused on by researchers as well as neglected ones and by indicating the trends in research through the years. Both qualitative and quantitative analysis is used in the study to better interpret the existing studies in a holistic perspective. Findings – Although the need for BIM in facility management (FM) has been acknowledged by researchers and practitioners, the results highlight that studies related to BIM applications in maintenance and especially refurbishment are relatively recent. However, the trend in published articles shows that the interest is continuously growing. Existing research in this field can be clustered in the following subtopics: (1) building survey and as-built BIM, (2) modelling and managing energy, (3) design assessment, (4) access to and integration of maintenance information and knowledge, and (5) information exchange and interoperability. Originality/value – The paper identifies the gaps in the research domain that hinders a widespread adoption of BIM in refurbishment and maintenance stages and introduces roadmaps to surmount the challenges identified in each specific subtopic of the field.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This paper presents the results of a comprehensive survey of activities on research and development of Virtual and Augmented Reality applied to architecture. 200 papers were reviewed, taken from annual con-ferences of the Association for Computer Aided Design In Architecture (ACADIA) and its sibling organizations in Europe (ECAADE and CAAD Futures), Asia (CAADRIA), the Middle East (ASCAAD) and South America (SIGRADI). The papers were grouped in research areas (design method, architectural theory and history, performance evaluation, human interaction, representation and process & management), emphasis (educa-tion, application, collaboration, visualization, practice and theory) and technology development stage (specification, development, application demonstration and evaluation). The period of study comprises 11 years, from 2000 to 2011. Findings for each category are described and key publi-cations and authors are identified.
Full-text available
Virtual reality has the potential to improve visualisation of building design and construction, but its implementation in the industry has yet to reach maturity. Present day translation of building data to virtual reality is often unidirectional and unsatisfactory. Three different approaches to the creation of models are identified and described in this paper. Consideration is given to the potential of both advances in computer-aided design and the emerging standards for data exchange to facilitate an integrated use of virtual reality. Commonalities and differences between computer-aided design and virtual reality packages are reviewed, and trials of current system, are described. The trials have been conducted to explore the technical issues related to the integrated use of CAD and virtual environments within the house building sector of the construction industry and to investigate the practical use of the new technology.
Building information modeling (BIM) is one of the most promising recent developments in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry. With BIM technology, an accurate virtual model of a building is digitally constructed. This model, known as a building information model, can be used for planning, design, construction, and operation of the facility. It helps architects, engineers, and constructors visualize what is to be built in a simulated environment to identify any potential design, construction, or operational issues. BIM represents a new paradigm within AEC, one that encourages integration of the roles of all stakeholders on a project. In this paper, current trends, benefits, possible risks, and future challenges of BIM for the AEC industry are discussed. The findings of this study provide useful information for AEC industry practitioners considering implementing BIM technology in their projects.
Conference Paper
This paper will focus on implementing 4D applications (3D product model + time) to meet the needs of construction companies. The authors have been developing and experimenting with 4D applications based on virtual reality technology and its integration with other state of the art software. The objective of the paper is to provide understanding for balancing possibilities and challenges of this approach for construction planning and management.
Building information models (BIMs) are maturing as a new paradigm for storing and exchanging knowledge about a facility. BIMs constructed from a CAD model do not generally capture details of a facility as it was actually built. Laser scanners can be used to capture dense 3D measurements of a facility's as-built condition and the resulting point cloud can be manually processed to create an as-built BIM — a time-consuming, subjective, and error-prone process that could benefit significantly from automation. This article surveys techniques developed in civil engineering and computer science that can be utilized to automate the process of creating as-built BIMs. We sub-divide the overall process into three core operations: geometric modeling, object recognition, and object relationship modeling. We survey the state-of-the-art methods for each operation and discuss their potential application to automated as-built BIM creation. We also outline the main methods used by these algorithms for representing knowledge about shape, identity, and relationships. In addition, we formalize the possible variations of the overall as-built BIM creation problem and outline performance evaluation measures for comparing as-built BIM creation algorithms and tracking progress of the field. Finally, we identify and discuss technology gaps that need to be addressed in future research.