A better way to manage Heritage Buildings using a Digital Twin
To prevent losing historical value spanning hundreds of years, much of what we have seen today are developments in Digital Tools to identify and monitor issues with heritage buildings. However, as a building undergoes changes and collected data grows — if the information isn’t destroyed, finding documentation about anything becomes challenging.
What if there was a better way to archive information on a medium anyone can relate to, with little to no interpretation.
This is where BIM plays a role, most buildings owners we speak to; either have a BIM model or intend to acquire a BIM model at some point to comply with government regulations or manage architectural, engineering and construction (AEC) requirements.
Interestingly, BIM has a major role in managing buildings.
During the pandemic, it became apparent in our teleconferences with the National University of Singapore (NUS) Baba house team that the value of BIM was not translating beyond construction — unless you’re a trained engineer, BIM was merely not accessible nor was it usable.
The initial discussion with the team was opened with, “what is BIM”? This was my moment, in excitement, I quickly flashed the BIM model using a standard web browser and with a brief BIM explanation, the penny dropped (ding! ding!), in delight a voice on the call uttered “I think we can use this for archival”. Now, many of you reading this would know that there is no quick explanation for BIM, however, seeing the 3D-model spin around live on-screen does help.
Digital Twin for Heritage Buildings
Using the TwinLogic web app the BIM model was accessible over the cloud for NUS Baba house users to view and interact with the space virtually. By connecting BIM to the information stored in existing spreadsheets the team discovered a better way to communicate, find and analyse information than previously imagined.
For the first time, non-technical users are seeing information that was traditionally stored in rows and columns through a 3D digital representation of the physical asset.
The TwinLogic web app is flexible enough to cater for growing information demands; without knowing a single line of code or BIM. The team at the NUS Baba house were able to customise the solution simply by adding rows and columns in a shared spreadsheet — best of all, this information is dynamically reflected in the BIM model, without the use or understanding of any proprietary software.
Building Communications, Communicating about Buildings……
Over the course of a few weeks and many teleconferences later(we couldn't meet face to face…..), we had come to realise that communicating over BIM was much more meaningful, with little explanation everybody understood which part of the building was the topic of discussion, no confusion, no second-guessing.
You simply cannot describe a building in words or pictures, the mediums we use today are merely aberrations of the real thing and it requires a significant amount of mental gymnastics to piece it all together.
We hope to de-mystify the complexities around BIM and Digital Twins, by keeping it simple, using simple tools and applications humans understand. Heritage Buildings are one of many possible applications for Digital Twins.
We’d like to thank the folks at the National University Singapore (NUS) and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) for going on this journey with us.