October 17, 2019
Build: London ’19 for Architecture: big data, digital twins, and immersive design
Digital twins, immersive design, urban planning, and data visualization were all on the schedule, with a keen focus on how real-time rendering is transforming traditional processes, making them more creative and productive. The event kicked off with Alex Roman, creator of The Third and Seventh, sharing his thoughts on how architectural visualization has evolved, giving a taste of some of the stunning work he’s created using traditional offline techniques, and sharing his hopes for using real-time visualization in his future work.
The prestigious Zaha Hadid Architects showcased Mindesk’s bridge to UE, a real-time link with Rhino for exploring design in an immersive experience, while London-based architecture practice AHMM spoke about the impact and evolution of using a real-time engine across their architectural lifecycle. OneReality, joined by Ramirent (Europe’s largest construction rental company), spoke about TwinSite—the first-ever real-time training portal to ensure construction equipment is used safely.
Big data informing real-time architectural designIf there was a standout theme across the talks this year, it had to be big data. Time and again, presenters demonstrated how large-scale visualization of cities and even countries can be an organizing principle in how abstract data is arranged and presented via a digital twin or smart city version of reality. This is one of the hottest topics in the industry and one of the top 10 technology trends identified by Gartner.
“Data sets are getting bigger and bigger, and their fidelity is getting higher and higher,” said Ludvig Lovén, BIM / VR Developer at ÅF Infrastructure. “There's really no limit to the data density you can get in—and it’s just going to keep increasing. That was one of the reasons we chose Unreal in the first place.” Lovén took to the stage during the event to showcase how his firm is researching the use of Unreal Engine to interactively design road networks across dozens of kilometers of Sweden, harnessing the power of geographic information system (GIS) data relating to the local landscape and archaeology to inform decisions.
Big data touched almost everything, from the digital twin projects showcased by virtual reality studio ZOAN and technology company Tencent, to a presentation on the way smart cities are being designed. “We're here because we want to go further in our urban planning,” said Eric Jeansson, Geo Data Strategist for the City of Gothenburg. “What was interesting for me was the data visualization. You can take real-time data and visualize, analyze, and model it in Unreal Engine so you can understand it.”
Zoan’s efforts for Finnair show how real-time technology can assist operational staff in learning correct procedures in an inexpensive way. Physically engaging with an environment through VR in a training scenario brings muscle memory into the learning process.
Tencent’s exploration of the power of digital twins has covered multiple Chinese cities and multiple use cases. These vary from understanding health issues and monitoring large public events in real time, to ensuring the safety and availability of local resources.
Designing urban spaces with real-time technologyProfessor Henry Richardson of Cornell School of Architecture explained how Unreal Engine is changing the way he teaches urban design. Design Technology Specialist David Weir-McCall of CallisonRTKL showcased the immersive techniques his company uses to measure how people react to architecture and, also how they present the results in Unreal Engine to better inform design decisions.
There was a sense throughout that the ability to bring big data into a real-time platform and visualize it heralds a maturing of this technology in the architecture space. Customers of Unreal Engine demonstrated the multitude of uses and values real-time technology can provide in a myriad of applications across the design, engineering, and build processes.
At the NVIDIA and HP-powered Expo, attendees got a look at Twinmotion in action; this immersive 3D architectural visualization tool enables you to quickly and easily produce high-quality images, panoramas, and standard or 360° VR videos. Graphisoft and Epic experts showcased the ARCHICAD Direct Link that enables one-click synchronization of ARCHICAD data with Twinmotion, as well as demonstrating how to apply materials and lighting, and add props and foliage to a scene. A number of architecture, construction, and urban planning firms are already putting this intuitive tool to use, so stay tuned for upcoming blog posts that dive into their projects over the coming months.
To learn more about tapping into the potential of Unreal Engine’s real-time technology, register for Unreal Academy London, taking place in November 2019, where you’ll see three days of keynote speakers, hands-on sessions, expert lectures, and valuable networking opportunities. You can also download the real-time immersive 3D architectural visualization tool Twinmotion for free until November 2019.