With over half of all British construction-related businesses employing less than 20 staff (Office for National Statistics, 2015) projects typically involve several firms. Each of these companies will have their own software legacy and preferences. So it follows that collaboration relies on compatibility if BIM workflows are to reach their full potential and allow architects and engineers to optimise their designs.
3D modelling is ubiquitous, and stakeholders expect 3D visualisation – so why stop short of adding 3D analysis of the the people who will use the building?
How Oasys proved invaluable
Few people would dispute that Oasys MassMotion is the benchmark for 3D pedestrian simulation. It is proven on massive infrastructure projects where it has been used to model crowds tens of thousands strong. The 2015 release of the Flow version for architects has now made its native 3D and remarkable visualisations an attractive option for practices of all sizes. They can see it potential not only in informing their thought processes as well as assisting stake holders make key decisions. It was, therefore, no surprise that a discussion around interoperability of technology very quickly picked up steam at the Construction IT Alliance BIM gathering last year.
MassMotion and Flow have been built to support IFC import and be fully compatible with all the leading CAD tools. So what better project to demonstrate MassMotion’s interoperability than a ”Best Use” winner in the New York round of the Build Earth Live collaboration challenges. The winning project had used Vectorworks, a headline BuildEarthLive sponsor.
Build Earth Live asks teams to design buildings for iconic sites across the globe. BIM Unlimited, the winning international team was led by distributors Computers Unlimited with architects from the Dominican Republic’s Caedro consultancy, steel fabrication specialists at Cadtec, 3D designers from Cadventure, and University of Tokyo research students. Between them, they re-imagined the Hudsons Yards site in New York and submitted ideas for a 60-story diagrid residential tower and a sports centre. The catch was that they only had 48 hours to do it!
Coincidentally, Arup designers working on Hudsons Yards master planning have also used MassMotion. So it was hard for Oasys to resist running the model to see how adding 3D pedestrian simulation alongside the traditional major disciplines could have added value to the BIM Unlimited project.
“The ease with which we imported the IFC Vectorworks Architect model of the project into MassMotion immediately demonstrated the pedestrian simulation software’s compatibility with collaborative BIM workflows,” said Oasys business development manager Rhys Lewis. Oasys then populated the model with a virtual crowd, and set agendas for the individual agents. Agents’ reactions within the model are based on what we have learned from academic research into crowd behaviour over the past 50+ years, coupled with agendas set within MassMotion. They might be asked to move between specific spaces in the building, queue for a lift, escape a fire, or to visit shops in the ground floor commercial area, for instance.
The accuracy with which MassMotion and Flow give a realistic and reliable feedback on behaviour is verified and validated. Their visualisations can be trusted to reveal design errors and opportunities for improvement. “What if?” analyses help stakeholders to make better decisions about changes in specification such as adding/removing expensive escalators?
The immediate outputs of the analysis of the BIM Earth Live winner revealed some bottlenecks and even a few dead ends, which could then have been quickly and easily rectified and checked. The way in which spaces interconnect was immediately apparent in a visualisation of a MassMotion analysis; and Hani Afendi of Cadventure saw that as a powerful incentive for users to make more use of the powerful Vectorworks Space Planning Tools.