Using VR to improve design

On the island of Stord, Multiconsult has started using a special Virtual Reality (VR) room to help with the design process. The result is better and cheaper designs.

1. November 2018

“By using VR in the design process, you can eliminate errors and defects before you start building. The aim is to come up with better, and often cheaper, designs”, says Erlend Kent, the head of Multiconsult’s office on Stord.

The VR room provides access to a virtual, computer-simulated environment. In it, you can use VR glasses to enter life-size 3D designs of buildings and the surrounding spaces. This allows all of the parties involved in a project to explore the design model in order to get a visual impression of what the project will look like when completed.

Examples of practical applications

The VR room has been used successfully for a number of customers, such as the food research institute Nofima and the Vågafossen fish hatchery. Multiconsult is currently engaged in designing a smolt production facility for a big customer in Sweden. The general contractor is Hervik Rør, whose staff hadn’t seen the site.

“As the site is far away, we invited Hervik Rør to our VR room before doing the detailed design, so that they could get an idea of the site and start their planning. This was very useful, as they gave us lots of good suggestions that we were able to incorporate into our drawings”, says Eirik Myhre, a team leader at Multiconsult.

Project manager Harry Wiik Waage describes the VR room as “informative and highly effective”.

“It is particularly useful to be able to explore the model and check whether it is possible to reach valves, access the bottom of tanks and so on. A computer screen doesn’t give you that, even if it has a 3D display”, says Wiik Waage.

Many possible uses

The VR room has a wide range of potential applications – from houses and offices, through industrial premises to roads, quays and ports.

“Anything that can be modelled in 3D can be presented using VR. We now use VR for all project phases, include sales, concept design, detailed design, completion, operation and maintenance”, says Kent.

For example, during concept design, Multiconsult can quickly compare and test various options in the VR room. During detailed design it is easier to identify conflicts and errors and hence solve them before they reach the construction site. Moreover, technicians can familiarise themselves with the site before starting the installation work. During the sales process, VR reassures customers and helps them to understand what a concept will look like when completed.