New London Architecture

The Digitisation of the Built Environment

Tuesday 26 July 2022

David Weir-McCall

AEC Business Development Manager - Unreal Engine Enterprise
Epic Games

David Weir-McCall, Architecture Industry Marketing Manager at Epic Games discusses digitisation as a solution for architecture, engineering, planning and property sectors to dealing with an ever-changing landscape.


The built environment is in an eternal state of flux, meaning that the lives of its buildings, streets, businesses, and people never stay the same for long. But trying to design for, manage, communicate, and ultimately harness this constantly changing landscape has been a quandary for professionals across the architecture, engineering, planning and property sectors for decades.
 
As the recent pandemic has shown, systemic change can occur swiftly and unexpectedly, and we need infrastructure that is not only capable of reacting to these changes (unexpected or not), but of proactively ensuring that they can be managed, even mobilised, to enhance how we use and experience the built environment.
 
It’s through the process of digitisation, that we believe the ability to grab hold of that elusive, transient element within the design and planning process, is becoming increasingly attainable. Of course, new methods of design and communication are constantly evolving to help this shift to be realized to its full potential.
 
At Epic Games, we see the major keys to unlocking this potential is through real-time, 3D visualization, and it’s in Unreal Engine, the most advanced real-time 3D creation tool, that we’ve focused our energies. As well as powering Fortnite, one of the world’s largest games, it is used in industries including film, automotive, city design, and building design. Over the last few years in particular, architects are using Unreal Engine and Twinmotion (UE’s entry level sister programme) to bring stunning, photorealistic worlds to life. The ultimate aim is to make the eternal flux in which the built environment exists more manageable, inclusive, productive, and exciting, as we move into an increasingly digital age.
 
For these architects, there are two core benefits we believe 3D, real-time visualization offers. The first is illustrated through the concept of ‘what ifs per hour’: Photorealistic, real-time feedback that allows you to evaluate both more creative decisions and more project issues per hour, giving you more creativity, and productivity. Second is the ‘time machine effect’ that this technology brings, enabling users to experience the future via real-time, and anticipate issues or problems long before construction begins on-site. As the costs of design changes rise exponentially over the life of a build, the potential to save money, resource, stress, and time, is invaluable.
 
Of course, being able to access, edit, and review design changes in this way significantly opens up the potential for communication and collaboration between stakeholders. Whether for interiors, buildings, or entire masterplans, this process of digital ‘twinning’ has uses spanning entire project life cycles, from design and construction, to management and occupation, and – for a world set to circularise its material economy - even for disassembly and reuse.
 
This digital-physical infrastructure is only set to become more connected and integrated, and as more professionals find themselves communicating and collaborating through their continued dual construction, we might find that as an industry, we’re finally able to work with time, rather than against it.


David Weir-McCall

AEC Business Development Manager - Unreal Engine Enterprise
Epic Games



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