Combined Digital Techniques Could Transform Construction

Digital building techniques could be set to revolutionise the planning and construction of commercial buildings, homes and entire cities.

The advancement of smart buildings and connected technology is changing how designers and installers view everything from security systems to lighting and air conditioning controls. But a study by Erika Pärn of Birmingham City University suggests emerging technology could go much further.

New digital techniques, such as Building Information Modelling, are typically considered in isolation from one another. By combining them, the theory is that smart systems commonly associated with commercial buildings can be merged and applied to cities.

Facilities and services would suit both deprived and affluent communities, with construction and the use of land targeted to make efficient use of resources.

"In the UK the government has already laid out a mandate for use of digital building techniques, but I think we need to go even further and look at the impact these technologies can have on transforming how whole cities look across the globe,” said Ms Pärn.

The seven key dimensions of the digital built environment identified by the research are:

  • Sensors and network-based technologies
  • Machine learning
  • Building Information Modelling
  • Machine vision technology
  • Hybrid technology
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Optoelectric devices (such as laser scanning)

Earlier this month, the issue of smart building design was addressed at London’s ThinkFM conference. James McHale, managing director of research consultancy Memoori, noted the market for smart devices in the commercial setting is likely to triple by 2021.

But he warned building designers should be focused on occupants and their needs, rather than attempting to include unnecessary, complicated features people struggle to operate. That emphasis on understanding the needs of the user would likely be welcomed by Ms Pärn.

For more information on smart buildings and what they could mean for your organisation’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning, take a look at some of our previous articles.

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