In theory, all the technological prerequisites for the paperless construction site are in place, but in practice most construction work today is still carried out based on 2D plans. These static construction drawings have significant disadvantages: Locally stored plans without automated versioning mean that crafts do not have complete information and updates are often not considered in time. This can easily lead to errors.
As part of a design-build seminar, students at Leibniz Universität Hannover have been researching how buildings can not only be planned but also constructed through the interaction of various possibilities of digital technologies: for example, by using augmented reality and without the use of classic construction drawings. What are the findings? What are the upcoming research approaches?
From digital planning to digital implementation
Xella aims to close the gap between digital planning and analog implementation on the construction site and has been engaged in the use of augmented reality on the construction site for many years. For example, the company uses the Hololens2 in the Trimble construction site version to visualize digital planning and to perform a quality check on the construction site as part of a target/actual comparison. This procedure has already been used for several years in the Netherlands, Germany, and Poland, among others.
The paperless construction site project
The students at the Faculty of Architecture and Landscape Sciences led by Prof. Mirco Becker are now purposefully going one step further: the project "Paperless Construction Site" proposes a new approach in the construction industry, using only the computer or smartphones, tablets, and Head-Mounted-Displays via augmented reality for detailed and extended information during the construction process. The research objective was to investigate the benefits and impact of augmented reality technology on the architectural design and construction process.
Xella supplies expertise and Ytong plan blocks
Xella supported this research project by providing practical expertise and by delivering Ytong blocks P2. In the highly simplified project compared to the real situation on the construction site, a stone sculpture was planned based on a real building using an algorithm created with the Software Rhinoceros 3D and the visual scripting environment Grasshopper. Using the digital model, the first layer Ytong blocks were not only initially placed on the surface according to plan but were also subsequently assembled successively. The arrangement of the blocks was done by the students themselves with the help of smartphones and three virtual reality head-mounted displays. The QR codes tagged on some of the blocks served as anchors for their real-world placement.
Once the sculpture was completed, an augmented reality environment was created using the Unity platform for smartphones, which allowed visitors to the site to visit a virtual exhibition of the concepts explored in the project: Panels with images, texts and videos were displayed here. In addition, a hologram was installed on the existing demonstrator to visualize the potential for building extensions.