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Sweco UK

Sweco ‘pushes the possible’ in cross-disciplinary immersive technology project, PrismArch


We’re proud to have collaborated with world-leading innovation partners on PrismArch, a landmark immersive technology research project centred around Virtual Reality aided design that brings together cross-disciplinary aspects of architecture in a multi-simulation environment.

Sweco UK provided expertise as M&E consultants, and was responsible for the evaluation plan and usability study of the platform as well as key roles in other deliverables, either as contributors or reviewers. We also collaborated with Sweco Finland on a specific task which involved the research of computational fluid dynamics presentation (CFD) in a virtual reality environment.

Images with thanks to ZHVR

Fast facts

Sweco services
M&E consultancy, evaluation planning, usability study
Sweco project leads
Peter Hale, Arun Selvaraj, Dinos Ipiotis
CERTH, Zaha Hadid Architects Virtual Reality Department (ZHVR), AKT-II, University of Malta (UoM), ETH Zurich, Mindesk VR

The main objective of PrismArch is to achieve a “prismatic blend” between aesthetics, simulation models and meta-information that can be presented in a contextualized and comprehensive manner in Virtual Reality (VR) in order to allow collaborative manipulation of the design and accurate assessment of new design decisions.

As summarised in the PrismArch project abstract, current architectural and engineering design programmes enable complex and creative designs to be easily and accurately modelled. Using advanced virtual reality (VR) applications, designers can immersively perceive and interact with their creations. Unfortunately, these solutions focus on aesthetics, ignoring functionality. Architects and engineers therefore cannot take full advantage of VR solutions when attempting complex constructions. The EU-funded PrismArch project aims to enable the collaborative design manipulation and accurate assessment of new design decisions. To this end, it will blend aesthetics, simulation models and meta-information in a way that can be presented in a contextualised and comprehensive manner in VR. The project’s work will allow architects and designers to jointly assess the outcome of their decisions, thereby creating universally optimal solutions.”

PrismArch enhances collaboration among AEC professionals, enabling them to see and interrogate the impact of their decisions both within specific disciplines and across an entire project. Features include importing 3D assets, 3D modeling, saving and tagging, collaboration in multi-user sessions, and AI tools generating new design variants based on selected designs – all crucial for efficient and effective work in creating complex designs requiring multi-designer involvement and intricate visualisations.

The participation of Sweco’s M&E engineers in a collaborative virtual reality environment meant PrismArch could be developed from a cognitive perspective as well as theoretical, with our experts providing input regarding user interaction, design solutions and evaluating the platform following existing literature and capturing this information in a meaningful way to feed back to the developers and the consortium.

By bridging the collaboration gap caused by various issues in traditional projects, spanning from software interoperability, lack of communication and standardisation to ethical issues such as a lack of transparency and ambiguity, this groundbreaking platform combines data from different sources and pushes stakeholders to collaborate more effectively in a VR environment.

We were able to add value through the research undertaken around the participation of stakeholders from different disciplines, highlighting the benefits of no longer having to use different software to what they use in their daily workflow. The value added through collaborating in a VR environment without the interoperability limitations, the issues resolved through this collaboration and the hours saved is incomparable to the waste that is inherent across traditional workflows.

PrismArch aims in investigating every aspect of a construction project, therefore sustainability is a core part of its benefit pool. Based on the requirements, the project can be loaded in the VR platform with the metadata, where the stakeholders can review several information regarding sustainability. The platform can also be used to investigate circularity, subject to requirements and relevant models involved.

This was the first successful EU funded project accomplished from Sweco UK, which has received industry recognition through digital engineering award nominations.

I am proud that we delivered successfully and have built a strong relationship with CERTH. This has also opened the door to new opportunities for Sweco UK to showcase its innovative thinking, as we are now actively participating and bidding in a number of similar research and pilot projects.

Dinos Ipiotis Digital Delivery Team Leader at Sweco UK

Our vision-led Digital Studio is constantly working to develop client-focused digital buildings solutions – honing existing services and incubating new methodologies through 360-degree futurology. Our goal is simple: to unlock potential and present a fundamental shift in the way we design, manage and maintain our built environment.