Zaventem - 2023
Buildwise is a Belgian research institute supporting construction professionals in their daily work and promoting innovation in the sector. The new headquarters in Zaventem houses an extensive showroom where members can try out different digital technologies and innovative feats. The Barco Canvas is a highlight in the demo center, inspiring visitors as a multipurpose solution in the pursuit of a more sustainable and more efficient industry.
The digital transformation is ubiquitous, even in the construction sector. The recent years have introduced numerous new innovative technologies such as 3D printing, exoskeletons, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, etc., to design, build, manage and renovate more efficiently.
Funded by subsidies from regional, federal and European authorities, the multidisciplinary team in Buildwise performs research into the latest tools and assists the institutes’ members in their digital construction journey.
“The players in the construction industry, however, are typically still rather conservative,” adds Timothée Simoens, Business Manager at Buildwise. “The unknown makes unloved. So, when moving to our new headquarters in Zaventem, we really wanted a special demonstration room to inspire visitors and show the possibilities through hands-on demonstrations and tailor-made trainings.”
Amongst other digitally enabled tools, the Zaventem demo center wants to highlight the benefits of Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality. By being absorbed in the digital model, project partners have a better overview of the building and can detect potential problems before work starts. Errors on the construction site and time delays are reduced.
Virtual reality can also be useful when communicating with the customer. Through the digital sample, the customer can easily and quickly visualize the project in its context. It ensures better communication and a smaller risk of last-minute changes.
The biggest challenge, however, was defining the integration specifics: “Given that every immersive system is unique, fully anticipating each detail is difficult, thus the selection of an experienced integrator who offers strong support in both technical and practical aspects is essential,” says Alejandra Vazquez, Digital Construction Advisor at Buildwise.
The team collaborated with ST Engineering Antycip, a European provider and system integrator for VR solutions, and the visualization experts at Barco. “Although the process of achieving our ideal setup has required constant adjustments by the team of developers, it has been a valuable learning experience and has enriched our expertise in immersive technologies.”
Selecting the technical specifications of the system, including the choice of projectors, tracking system and other hardware components, proved complex due to the specialized nature of the equipment. “We saw the Barco Canvas first in the Barco experience center,” adds Vazquez. “And we found all the main elements implemented in this solution. We used this as a starting point from which we made modifications to align the system with our specific requirements.”
The Buildwise Canvas system combines the power and quality of three Barco laser-based F-series projectors and the superb performance of the light-weight RigiFlex screen. It has an open design with three projection surfaces angled at 135 degrees. The three-meter heigh custom projection faces increase the vertical field of view, which is important for the visualization of 3D models of buildings.
The Canvas can be used both for regular meetings, for interactive group VR sessions using regular see-through 3D glasses, or a mixed mode that feature both 2D and 3D imagery. Contrary to head-mounted devices (HMDs), the Barco Canvas fosters a Group VR experience with multiple stakeholders having access to the same (3D) image in the same space. “Thanks to its unique immersive and collaborative character, the Canvas solution can significantly improve efficiency in the presentation of BIM models, customization of 3D plans and real-time visualization with 360° cameras for larger and complex projects.”
Since its opening in March 2023, the demonstration center is in full swing with visits, trainings and events for both large industry federations and smaller companies. “As a multi-purpose solution throughout the construction design phases, the Canvas demo is a highlight during the inspiration tours for all our visitors,” says Bart van de Pol, Senior principal advisor at Buildwise.
He concludes: “We’re convinced that this solution will grow in importance in the coming five years. To support this innovative growth, next steps will include the further standardization of digital BIM data and making the Barco system easily and widely accessible for use by our members.”