New BCA virtual reality centre helps firms simulate building process

SINGAPORE - Building owners, designers and contractors can take a virtual walk through their planned buildings and see the construction process simulated in 3D, at the newly-opened Centre for Lean and Virtual Construction.

The million-dollar facility, developed by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and located at the BCA Academy in Braddell Road, was opened officially by Senior Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee on Monday (Dec 21) morning.

The centre is open to industry firms and institutes of higher learning, with the latter paying lower usage fees.

They will be able to use various 3D immersion technologies and Building Information Modelling (BIM) software, a way to plan construction that reflects architectural and engineering aspects in the same integrated model.

For instance, using the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, designers and engineers can walk through a virtual model of their project to get a better sense of what the completed building will be like.

Using augmented reality software, they can also point a mobile phone at a paper print-out of a floorplan, and watch the project "rise up from the paper" and be constructed in 3D, via their phone screen.

BIM software has a range of uses, including identifying potential clashes between building elements such as walls, and amenities such as cabling and piping.

Designers can also use BIM tools to simulate human traffic flow in variations of the same design, and let decision-makers choose their preferred option.

The centre aims to encourage and facilitate virtual design and construction: building the same project "twice" - first virtually and then physically, so that any issues can be resolved at the virtual stage.