Posted: 30 Oct 2014 11:15 AM PDT
By Catherine Bolgar*
Say "architecture in the future," and you're likely to think of buildings with a radical design, like the Absolute World Towers near Toronto, which twist some 200 degrees from base to top. But while architecture in the future might still be a feast for the eyes, other senses and feelings are likely to get more satisfaction as well.
Recently, the institute undertook a project to understand people's reactions to the city around them. The researchers walked around New York with residents of that city to find out how one, for instance, responds to a busy intersection. Often the subjects, who were wearing brain monitors, would respond that everything was fine, but "their brain activity says something else," Mr. van der Leer explains. "If we don't respond well to structures, why do we build them?"
The growing field of environmental psychology attempts to better understand the link between people and their surroundings. But scientists and architects still tend to work separately. "Research is happening, but there's a disconnect between people being trained as designers and this type of knowledge," Mr. van der Leer says.
Eventually, such research may lead to a different type of design, the way computer-aided design led to a surge in curvy buildings, and in the 1800s cast-iron structures allowed buildings to go higher without the need for thick walls.
Today, the focus is on resilience and sustainability. "We need to know what is working and what isn't, so buildings and cities become more sustainable to run," he says.
Understanding how people react to architecture requires data, and sensors offer a new way to collect that data.
Masdar is a sensor-thick city being built from scratch near Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates that is expected to be home to 40,000 people. Movement sensors, rather than switches and taps, will control lights and water. Transportation will include a driverless, point-to-point personal rapid transit system. Masdar will be the "world's largest cluster of high-performance buildings that, together create a real-time laboratory to monitory and study how cities use, conserve and share resources," the city's Web site says.
Christchurch, New Zealand, also intends to carpet its infrastructure with sensors. The city's downtown was almost completely destroyed by a series of earthquakes in 2011.
Christchurch is aiming to become not just a smart city but a "sensing city with smart citizens," he says.
An early project is water quality testing, using paper-based kits that test levels of potassium hydride, nitrite, hydrogen and hardness in the rivers. Called "the Little Water Sensor," the kits were designed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Little Devices program and cost only a couple of dollars apiece. Residents can use them to test water in the city's rivers and upload the data via smart phone to MIT, where it will be interpreted, geotagged and added to the crowdsourced database.
Another project involves using sensors on inhalers of patients with COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. When someone takes a puff on the inhaler it will send information and a geotag to the cloud. The data can be compared with air-quality data, which could help doctors understand which conditions provoke patients' symptoms.
*For more from Catherine, contributors from the Economist Intelligence Unit along with industry experts, join The Future Realities discussion.
Posted: 30 Oct 2014 01:00 AM PDT
The following is an excerpt from End-To-End Collaboration Enabled by BIM Level 3: An Architecture, Engineering & Construction Industry Solution Based on Manufacturing Best Practices.
Building Information Modeling (BIM) has been the Design & Construction industry's answer to improve the flow of data through the building process, and, therefore, help to create efficiencies.
Industrialized practices work well when design information is structured appropriately for downstream application by builders, fabricators, and operators. BIM data standards have been gradually maturing to meet this purpose.
Building owners and operators are driving the industry to achieve higher levels of BIM maturity by demanding process improvements and technological innovations that reduce costs, increase value from suppliers, and increase sustainability.
Much of the industry is now moving from BIM Level 1 to Level 2, thanks in part to a directive by the U.K. government to adopt BIM practices by 2016.
An Updated Building Information Modeling (BIM) Maturity Model
From Computer-Aided Design to Building Lifecycle Management
Some companies are trying to find efficiencies with BIM Level 2 processes, traditional workflows, and point solutions.
The industry innovators are rethinking collaboration and leveraging integrated BIM Level 3 technologies to become more competitive.
Construction teams that successfully adopt BIM Level 3 processes benefit from strategic advantages: they create less waste, deliver in less time, and produce a better outcome while retaining a healthy profit margin.
BIM Level 2 vs. Level 3
In 2013, the U.K. government mandated that all government projects utilize BIM Level 2 by 2016 in order to reduce information ambiguity. While BIM Level 2 has indeed brought significant benefits to architects, Level 2 tools tend to focus on design coordination problems, and do not maintain much of a role in construction processes.
Models produced using Level 2 point solutions are ultimately exported and imported into disconnected systems. This handoff can create unintended consequences: data silos, errors, version control problems, and rework.
Data produced by the design team at the beginning of the project does not flow seamlessly through to the rest of the project delivery.
Architects ultimately miss the opportunity to adjust for means and methods, lose control of their design intent, and are pulled into a reactive process of responding to Requests for Information (RFIs).
Under Level 2, with no integrated system to leverage BIM data, builders and suppliers are removed from fully collaborating on the model and are left to absorb the cost of rework.
BIM Level 3 is the only approach that fully connects the data chain from start to finish, helping to create end-to-end efficiencies.
In a Level 3 system, BIM data is not converted into files and emailed or sent via FTP sites to various parties. A Single Source of Truth is established, stored in a database on the cloud, and accessible by all project contributors through web services.
BIM Level 3 allows data to be transactable for construction, fabrication, and even facility management purposes, enabling open collaboration and building lifecycle management.
A robust Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system creates an efficient environment for coordinating complex Architecture, Engineering & Construction data.
Adding BIM data to a PLM system creates a Building Lifecycle Management (BLM) system, which enables BIM Level 3.
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