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BIM & 3D Virtual Reality: Construction industry embraces new opportunities

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BIM and 3D Virtual Reality

The primary usage of BIM-ready 3D models across the construction industry has encouraged the emergence of 3D virtual reality in analyzing the proposed models. Majorly architects and building design firms have seen real value in spotting design inaccuracies and aligning their workflows with other disciplines.

Deploying virtual reality technology with BIM enables architect to evaluate, modify and sketch the designs in virtual environment and deliver excellent architectural design models.

Factually, architectural building designs are associating with VR technology more closely than ever. In fact, 3D virtual reality companies are developing wearables and headsets that complement the needs of profound growth of architecture and engineering in construction industry. Popular head-mounted displays (HMDs) such as Oculus Rift or HTC Vive are widely accepted application of VR technology to architects in perceiving 3D architectural designs with animation of a physical-scale model.

Designs get better with VR

Touch User Virtual Enviroment
Oculus Touch lets the user manipulate objects in their virtual environment with a high level of precision.

Architects heavily rely on the as-built BIM 3D models created using BIM objects already stored in Revit libraries. These as-built models when used in collaboration with virtual reality technology wearables, architects can objectively evaluate material finish, form and fit, feel, compatibility with ambiance, variants etc. of the products. Wearables portray each design object realistically and any feature that is found to be unsuitable can be altered and tweaked in real-time.

For example, there are 3D design models created for products and construction plan, a complete inventory needs with calculation and construction phasing is done accurately. Autodesk Revit or any appropriate BIM platform will enable coordination in a seamless manner. But BIM platform along with VR, for example Revit and VR software, together will create immersive models facilitating better coordination to projects stakeholders in perceiving the designs, floor space arrangements, and construction process management.

3D BIM architecture & virtual reality architectural visualization

If we inspect the current usage of BIM platforms, there are architectural consultants and engineering design firms that still depend upon CAD software for designing development and 3D visualization purpose. CAD platforms are very efficient, without a doubt, as compared to hand sketches; but far less efficient than BIM platforms.

3D rendering and visualization capabilities of CAD platform are very poor and fail to integrate various objects with building plan – something that BIM platforms excel at. As-built BIM models when rendered with high-end rendering software like Sketchup Pro or 3ds Max or real-time rendering software like Lumion, gives a realistic model of the proposed design and establishes seamless design communication.

Owing to the expertise needed in operating, numerous architectural design firms struggle in using full potential of BIM platforms. However, if the competence skills are achieved, bars for design standard can be raised to a significant level by combining BIM with VR.

Virtual architects for VR architecture needs

Virtual Reality Architecture

Big architectural firms and design consultants having multiple teams of architects, drafter and designers together use BIM with VR, owing to better resource access they have. For an instance, Revit and Lumion VR is a popular combination for several leading architectural firms. Their experiences prove that design project deliver and design outputs can be improved dramatically and client experiences can be enhanced.

It is definitely more fruitful than inspecting and understanding the designs even on an HD computer screen. Though there are applications that let you build live designs of buildings, but an architect would always prefer VR technology over an application as VR gives accurate feel of designs with planned budgets and proposed design intents.

PrioVR, IrisVR, Oculus Rift, HoloLens etc. are some of the named VR technology applications that are closely associated with construction design professionals. The profound growth of virtual reality industry as a whole relies on the ability of VR wearables with realistic design perception.

In search of new opportunities

BIM has created ease in visualizing designs with real-world parameters to an extent that CAD could ever reach. But BIM combined with virtual reality platforms are bringing innovative turnarounds and ease in perceiving designs and better finishing are achieved with higher accuracy.

An excellent tip from pioneer architects: “Create your plans in BIM and put it with VR, see the wonders your clients can experience while you witness your growing business.”

Traditional BIM services companies are shifting to delivering VR models instead of just BIM-ready 3D models and VR companies too are aligning their innovation practices with construction industry needs. Perhaps, this is a signal for architects to recognize the growing dominance of virtual reality industry within construction industry and embrace new opportunities with it.

Hiral Patel

About Author: is a news editor and has been contributing to the AEC industry since last 7 years. She mainly writes about the application of BIM across Architecture, MEP and Structural sectors. Her focus is towards encouraging construction companies, sub-contractors and architects to adopt right technologies to improve efficiency and profitability.

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