For this reason, Xella has been a partner of Europe's largest innovation campus "Living Tomorrow" for more than 30 years. There, visitors can immerse themselves in the world of tomorrow today. The "Building of Tomorrow" at the heart of the campus serves as an exhibition and conference venue for business, science and other interested parties. Various working groups have come together to address issues relating to building technologies, and Xella is also contributing its expertise. How digital building planning in particular will adapt to the new conditions is the topic of the "digital twin" working group, to which Peter Lesage also belongs. Xella is already working with the digital twin in many projects using the BIM (Building Information Modeling) method. For him, there is no question that this technology will become established on the market. And he has other visions for the future of tomorrow's buildings. With these seven theses, Lesage envisions a future in which the construction industry can successfully master with the right investments and experts.
Seven theses on the future of digital construction
"Living Tomorrow" is the name of Europe's largest innovation campus, which among other things aims to make today's building solutions fit for the future. Xella has been a partner here for more than 30 years - currently also with a commitment in the "Digital Twin" working group. With BIM experts, in-depth know-how, and application examples, digital building planning is already being envisioned there for the future.
Solar cells glitter on the roofs of the buildings. They are used to generate the electricity needed to make life in the city possible. Inside, wall-sized screens simulate views of the sea or the mountains. A smart home networks all technical devices with each other. What will the building of tomorrow look like? Where and how will we live in the future? "The building of tomorrow is more than that, it will be part of an organism," predicts Peter Lesage, Digital Enterprise Software Architect BIM at the Xella Group. Building designers already have to reckon with these and many other factors that will determine the future of construction.
We need AI assistance
According to Lesage, one of the biggest challenges is that we humans can hardly keep track of the unmanageable regulatory and environmental requirements for new buildings.
For him, the growing need for AI support is inevitable: "Artificial intelligence will become an increasingly important assistant for us. Humans will keep the overview and contribute the emotional part - and AI will take over the very specific, complex tasks."
Buildings will have to become carbon neutral very soon
Sustainability scores will determine the materials and design of buildings as early as 2030 - and that's not that long from now. The demand for climate-neutral building materials such as autoclaved aerated concrete, which actually absorbs CO2 when installed in a building, will thus most likely increase even further. And for building material suppliers, this means: "Providing evidence instead of making claims - and right down to the last mile," judges Lesage. Because the construction site also includes climate-neutral delivery, ideally by e-vehicles or rail.
We will build in a way that is very optimized for the respective conditions
Storms, floods and other extreme weather events will have increasingly devastating consequences due to climate change - especially if buildings are not appropriately adapted to them. "In Copenhagen, there are already flood zones now," Lesage recounts. "For material selection, that raises questions about the hardness of materials - for example, whether to choose water-permeable and extra-waterproof building materials."
For this, everything has to be networked
Not only the buildings themselves, but also the utility grids must be integrated into the smart city organism - which must ensure that it can withstand the power and water supply. "In some areas, the numerous solar panels on rooftops are already leading to overloaded power grids," Lesage knows. Mobility and infrastructure are other important components of tomorrow's smart cities.
Digital planning and BIM as a must in a globalized world
Even today, it is not uncommon for a developer or investor to build in a foreign country. It is difficult to keep track of the building regulations that apply there - whether national or under EU law. Different players from different countries are needed to gather their information - and it is not uncommon for each of them to serve their own niche. For Peter Lesage, nothing is better suited to this task than a BIM model: "In addition to our factories, with which we can deliver across national borders, we have specialists in each country who can easily contribute their knowledge like a puzzle piece in the digital twin. In this way, we are developing from a pure supplier of building materials to a consultant for our industry - also for the requirements and peculiarities of three-dimensional planning in the various countries!"
Circular economy is the future
According to Lesage, the BIM model, aka the digital twin, even has what it takes to be used as a digital building ID card that not only contains current information, but also records the lifetime and recyclability: Which materials are recyclable to what extent, what value a building gains from them, even which parts are merely leased by manufacturers instead of sold, Lesage can imagine in it. Even Xella's autoclaved aerated concrete parts could be standardized in such a way that they can be taken apart and reassembled like panels.
Blockchain becomes an opportunity for greater credibility
Blockchain technology is based on transparent, arbitrarily expandable data sets that are already used today for transactions, for example. Since new information in the data set is automatically sent to the network as multiple copies, it cannot be manipulated and is therefore credible: "By using blockchain, no company would be able to make empty promises anymore, because every internal change is communicated to the network." For example, to make recycling intentions in a digital twin still traceable unchanged decades later, this technology would also be an exciting solution for BIM models.
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