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How is 3D Modeling in Architecture Improving Construction Projects?

3D modelling in architecture is increasingly used throughout all phases of a project, beginning in the planning period. Besides helping architects, these models are also useful for construction teams. Here’s a look at why they’re so valuable.

Providing Relevant Information to All Stakeholders

When parties still primarily dealt with two-dimensional drawings, it was often challenging for everyone involved to visualize the final project and grasp the design intent. Although 2D graphics are still used in some cases, it’s more common to show stakeholders what to expect by using 3D models.

That’s because everyone can see the content at once and provide any necessary input. Since 3D modelling tools often work in the cloud, such products give everyone the latest updates at once, removing delays and geographical boundaries.

Keeping everyone on the same page with accurate, updated information also encourages fruitful collaboration by equipping people to work toward shared goals. Plus, it significantly reduces confusion, which could help projects go smoothly while costing less than expected.

For example, a 2018 study indicated that project rework caused by miscommunication and incorrect, inaccessible information results in more than $177 billion in labour costs per year in the United States alone. When everyone involved in a project can see an up-to-date construction site model at any time, that level of transparency reduces possible issues that slow the process or lead to confusion.

Making Future Residential Areas Safe and Enjoyable

Anyone who has even briefly observed the happenings at a construction site can recognize it’s an extremely coordinated process. There are all kinds of goals affecting people’s decisions when developing a residential area, along with plenty of specifics that many people who eventually live there would not consider or even notice

For example, a cul-de-sac must have a terminal radius width of 100 feet, allowing enough room for emergency vehicles. Architects can use a construction site model to verify that the design also accommodates vehicles backing out of driveways. Many of today’s homeowners prefer to live in cul-de-sacs because they foster safer streets where people can get to know their neighbours.

However, they might not ever know the various architectural and construction decisions that made cul-de-sacs so livable and appealing. People who create areas for residential use are well-aware of all the combined decisions that help make a project successful. 3D modelling gives people the freedom to test different possibilities before breaking ground, saving time and keeping costs low.

Fostering Historical and Cultural Relevance

It’s one thing for a person to read about a notable structure in a history book. However, if they can interact with a careful recreation of the building and explore its dimensions and interior features, the past can come alive. They can then become more aware of times in history that were sometimes instrumental in changing the lives of people directly affected by them.

Enabling Digital Tours of Early Schools for African American Kids

Most people think of construction occurring in the physical world. Although it often does, technology has opened new opportunities to engage in digital projects, especially when people have backgrounds in 3D modelling in architecture.

One recent example involves using various technologies, including 3D models, to digitally reconstruct several Rosenwald Schools that existed in Alabama. These were places where African American children could learn in the early 1900s when segregation otherwise made education impossible for them.

Gorham Bird, who’s working on the project, said, “It is now approaching 100 years since many of these schools were built. It is estimated that 10%-12% of the original schools remain. Most are falling apart, and there is a pressing need to document and preserve them before they are gone.”

Although the team intends to create physical archives for the schools, this phase involves constructing the buildings in the digital realm. It will then make that highly realistic content available for online tours and other public education initiatives. Drones and LIDAR are two technologies used to make the resulting 3D models as true to history as possible.

Preserving Historic Structures for Future Generations

In the example above, most physical buildings are already lost to history, so there’s a race to save what’s left. However, 3D models can also further preservation efforts. One example involves a Neolithic village off Scotland’s Northern coast, known as Skara Brae.

Every other year, people from the preservation organization Historic Environment Scotland take laser scanners to the remote location and use them to capture data for 3D models showing Skara Brae’s structures and the surrounding landscape. The team then compares the current models to those made in earlier years.

That approach lets them see what's changed over time, down to the millimetre. Those models then help people decide where, when and how to engage in construction to protect the structures of Skara Brae from the weather and other risks. This improves the chances they’ll be part of the existing culture for as long as possible.

The portability of laser scanners is a major benefit when assessing hard-to-reach areas like Skara Brae. However, other emerging technologies are similarly useful, even in more accessible places. For example, an augmented reality feature on iPhones allows measuring things without using a tape measure or ruler. Additionally, the latest iPhones support various apps dealing with 3D modelling in architecture.

It’s not feasible for someone in construction or architecture to solely rely on a smartphone when working with three-dimensional models. However, as those streamlined devices become increasingly powerful, they help people access modelling details with one tap.

3D Modeling in Architecture Has Tremendous Potential

This overview illustrates some of the many reasons why 3D models could be so game-changing for architects and others who typically work in the construction industry. Whether a project involves a new building or one with centuries of history, modelling software allows for improved planning, better information sharing and benefits ranging from enhanced cost management to issue avoidance at all phases.

People who want to get the most out of 3D modelling should take the time to research the available products and learn the basics of the ones they choose. That approach will help them quickly realize how the models can streamline their workflows.

Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized Magazine. She has over three years experience writing articles for the tech and industrial sectors. Subscribe to the Revolutionized newsletter for more content from Emily at
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