Main contractor BAM is planning to roll out virtual reality headsets to every project nationwide, having demonstrated the benefits in trials.
Speaking to BIM+, Andrew Pryke, managing director of the firm’s design arm, BAM Design, commented: “We are planning to roll out VR equipment on all projects at all levels, to help demonstrate different design options to project stakeholders.
“Immersive environments give clients, potential tenants, estates teams and marketing teams a feel for what spaces will be like once built, which helps them make smarter decisions.”
Last year, BAM Design created a fully immersive VR model of the entire King’s Cross development site, to enable users to experience buildings and public spaces before they visit.
Individuals wearing a VR model viewer, such as Oculus Rift, were able to walk around the site and access additional information, including building and sustainability data, by looking towards “hot spot” markers contained in the model.
BAM Design created a fully immersive VR model of the King’s Cross development site
A more detailed VR model, of Argent’s Coal Drops Yard retail development, due to open in 2018, was subsequently created to enable potential tenants to explore every floor and retail unit well before construction or fit-out begins.
The demonstration allowed users to test out alternate designs for store exteriors and interiors by moving items around and changing interior finishes with the click of a button.
Pryke commented: “There are over 60 bespoke units inside the existing building’s arches and VR was critical to enable tenants to understand what they will feel like, the views out, how the signage and wayfinding works etc, which is difficult to communicate in 2D in drawings or on screen. A virtual model helps get tenants on board, which improves our forecasting and reduces risk.”
The demonstration was created using Revit models, developed during design and construction phases, with furniture and finishes added in. The Revit plug-in Enscape 3D was used to render the VR experience for Oculus Rift.
Argent’s Coal Drops Yard mixed-use development
Experiencing VR through a set of goggles has locational advantages over alternative set ups, such as a VR “Caves”, where 3D models are projected on a wraparound screen in a physical room, said Pryke.
“The beauty and simplicity of using headset is you can visualise any project, at any stage, from almost anywhere in the world, as long as you have a powerful enough laptop. Argent asked us how much the VR system was going to cost them, and the answer was nothing, it was affordable enough not to charge anything extra.”
Moving into design and construction, BAM plans to utilize VR to help the design teams identify gaps and to educate site staff on potential issues related to health & safety as well as improve their understanding of buildings.