There are numerous uses for scale 1:1 prototypes in the AEC industry. Here is an overview that shows just how diverse the possibilities are.   


1: Urban Planning and user involvement

Based on GIS data it is possible to create very accurate 3D models of cities where the existing buildings and infrastructure are represented and reproduced correctly. Just as it is possible to create 1: 1 views of 3D / BIM models, it is also possible to create 1: 1 views of city models. This provides a wide range of opportunities for strategic urban planning, retail plans, policy decisions, consultation and involvement of the citizens. The urban model in 1: 1 provides great value in the dialogue process between builders, authorities and advisors.


2: Programming

Programming a building project usually starts with a basic idea of otal area, functions and capacity of the building being planned and also includes the project's total budget. An advisors start working in the program phase, with solutions like dRofus ect., the plan is broken down to m2 for the individual department or individual function rooms. Using BIM / 3D models in the programme phase it becomes possible to plan space with objects in VR in the virtual prototype. This allows you to test whether you have programmed correctly and according to the capacity target. In addition, you can also analyse space and function in relation to the desired logistics and flow as a preparation for the subsequent facility management phase.



3: Co-Creation

There are great benefits associated with involving users in the early design phases - this is especially true for buildings that are designed based on input from experts regarding work processes and building operations, i.e. Institutions, schools, nursing homes, hospitals, laboratories, shopping centres, airports and more.


With the traditional method for user involvement -in which the process is based on 2D drawings - the process becomes very difficult, both for advisors, builders / operators, authorities and contractors, but especially for the users. This is because users usually have no or very little experience in reading, decoding and understanding 2D drawings, making the dialogue with the architects and other advisors a major challenge for the success of the project.


With scale 1: 1 prototypes and software that supports co-creation, it becomes possible to run sessions where users, together with the project team, use the virtual prototype to create a better understanding and foundation for the architect's design process. Based on 3D / BIM combined with VR as a tool, it becomes possible to find the correct balance between area, function and logistic flow in and between function rooms, departments and buildings.


4: Test, Analysis and Quality Assurance

With virtual prototyping, the phase of testing and analysis begins in what we traditionally call the design phase. At this stage VR is a great tool for quality assurance, but perhaps most of all, the value of a virtual prototype is greatest when used for optimizing and future-proofing a project for operations and maintaince. VR is a tool for added iterations between builders, advisors, authorities, users and the operator and results in a project that’s all relevant parties understanding and agree upon. This at a time when it is much cheaper to change the project, rather than if changes are made on the basis of errors that occur on the construction site - or in the worst case after the project is operating.


Inn order for virtual prototypes to trigger all the potential value inherent in BIM, it is crucial that the developer understands the method change that happens at BIM, VDC and VR completely. A shift that entails much more work from the advisors in the early stages of the project and during the design phase where the virtual prototype is being prepared.


At his stage the ICT Agreement plays a decisive role in and sets the path for a smooth process without incorrect demands hampering the process of BIM, VDC and VR. If the developer does not take into account additional time / fee for the advisor's BIM process, the work for creating a useful and valuable virtual prototype can easily be overlooked.


In projects where financial advisers have the opportunity to develop virtual prototypes, BIM, VDC and VR creates a much better understanding of the suggested solutions due to to possibility to involve all parties to test and analyse and thereby continuously optimize the project. The prototype (3D / BIM model) is updated after each scale 1: 1 session so that the optimization taking place is reflected in the virtual prototype.



5: Wayfinding

I many parts of the world a wide range a healthcare and hospital projects are currently being constructed A common challenge for theses projects is how to find appropriate, yet future-proof, signage solutions, and how users, patients and outside service workers find their way inside and outside the buildings. In projects with a well-defined BIM process, there is a very detailed virtual prototype of the project, and this can be used to plan and designing signage and way finding.


Based on the prototype, it is also possible to design, test and analyse the signage solutions in scale 1: 1. In this sub process persons who have no knowledge of the building or surroundings can be given a number of tasks that will accustom them to their future workplace using a virtual environment as a tool. 


6: Pre-use Training

In buildings with service functions it is critical for putting into service and ongoing operations that the staff are familiar with the facilities, have been introduced in work routines and routines for occupational health and safety. On the basis of properly set 3D / BIM-ICT requirements the virtual prototype at the time when the project is close to being put into service or already in operation the virtual model will have a degree of detail reflecting the real conditions the staff meet in their new facilities. By using the 1: 1 prototype for staff training a much greater certainty is given that the previous operating phase is done without critical operational disturbances due to untrained staff or unexamined situations.


The benefits of operation training in the virtual prototype are many. The limitation of possible training scenarios lies solely with the persons responsible for putting the project into use. In addition to incorporating work routines, logistics and functional equipment testing, there are also a number of other important scenarios to include in a commissioning process, including physical work environment and evacuation safety routines.


7: Operational Phase

When the project is ready for being put into service the as-built model becomes an important part of the operation phase. The as-built model is a result of updates in the virtual prototype, resulting in an operating model that is no longer a prototype, but a virtual copy how the project really is. The virtual model holds great value for the operation phase, and is a tool that can be used for future strategic decisions, training, safety training, getting users accustomed to their work environment, redevelopment, renovation and refurbishing.


8: Presentations and Project Sales

All projects are presented more accurately in scale 1: 1. VR allows developers, municipalities etc. to showcase projects where, for example, a new building is showed correctly in relation to the existing city and city space leading to a greater understanding for all parties involved. This might be very valuable when explaining the project to authorities and citizens.


Once the project is done, it is quite obvious to use the virtual prototype for project sales, where potential investors, buyers or tenants can experience the exterior and interior of the building, as well as the location and surroundings. Should you buy or rent a third or fifth floor? South or West facing?


With the virtual prototype in scale 1: 1 all parties can be part of the process without having to be an architect, engineer or building expert. All that is needed is a design process in 3D / BIM and proper support for VR.