AU Focus: Revolutionizing AEC Businesses with XR

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Collaboration through design phases, coordination on the construction site—these have long been challenges for architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) businesses. And the rise of remote work and a globalized workforce hasn’t made these jobs any easier. The result? Rework, schedule delays, and unnecessary costs.  

Extended reality (XR) can be an important tool to facilitate collaboration, coordination, and communication through all phases—to help everyone involved understand both the original design and the current state of the project. It gives every stakeholder greater spatial awareness—the ability to not just see or read the data, but actually experience the design in 3D space and in the proper context. It can bring professionals together from anywhere in the world. And that enables you to catch costly errors early, make better decisions, and ultimately achieve better outcomes.  

Autodesk Workshop XR enables you to bring the whole AEC project team together in an immersive and dynamic workspace to inspect and scrutinize 3D models and problem-solve together—in real time. It brings value across the entire project lifecycle, from early conceptual design to detailed design to coordination of design and build on the construction site or the factory floor, all the way throughout operations and maintenance. 

In these AU 2023 Theater sessions, AEC industry leaders share their experiences using XR in real-life projects to reduce risks and achieve better outcomes. 

A Culture of Curiosity:​ 100 Years of XR 

The first publicly released movie in 3D, "The Power of Love," was screened a century ago. For Elliott Crossley, director of digital delivery at Building Design Partnership (BDP), this can be seen as the birth of XR—and we’ve come a long way in the decades since. Crossley  

shares how a culture of curiosity underpins BDP’s work in leveraging XR to create immersive, collaborative design experiences. He cites the Alder Hey Children's Hospital project in Liverpool, UK, where the use of VR enabled the team to create 360-degree panoramas from the 3D model and co-design spaces with doctors. The process resulted in the project being delivered 20% faster than any comparable hospital. He also discusses using XR for the restoration of the Palace of Westminster. Using scanning technologies, a 3D model was created and developed into a real-time virtual environment. This digital model served as a design tool to understand the complexities of the building and to consider different design scenarios, but also as a communication tool to engage stakeholders.  

Building the Digital Big Room 

Virtual reality (VR) can be a powerful tool for collaboration in construction projects. Allison Flavin shares her team's experiences at Jacobs, a global solutions provider. They used VR to create a 'digital big room,' an immersive space where clients and team members can interact with 3D project models and additional information in real time. This VR room is not just for a one-time showcase, but is used continuously throughout the project lifecycle, facilitating ongoing collaboration. The room includes a site plan, with 4D animations showing how the building will be constructed, and it allows notes to be made directly within the space. Flavin emphasizes that this technology is accessible to everyone, regardless of their location or whether they have a VR headset, as it can also be accessed via a desktop computer.  

Achieving Cutting-Edge MEP Design Using XR

When it comes to using XR to improve construction processes, it’s all about the details. Gary Cowan, head of digital construction at the Kane Group, Northern Ireland's leading MEP design and build specialists, shares how his team was able to enhance design, improve 3D coordination, and overcome construction challenges by creating detailed XR experiences that could be shared by all stakeholders and disciplines. A notable case study is the Claridge's Hotel project, which required fully prefabricated solutions due to challenging and congested site conditions. By using XR technology and precise reality capture technologies, they managed to overcome building tolerance issues and create a one-to-one scale representation of the required elements, leading to a more efficient workflow.  


Learn more about the possibilities of XR in industry anytime with year-round learning at AU.