NUS Architecture team wins prize for automatic 3D modelling of cities

The team automated the mapping and conversion of real-world Building Information Modelling models into CityGML models such as these

Led by Professor Rudi Stouffs, a team from NUS Architecture has been awarded the “buildingSMART International Special Distinction in Innovation” at the buildingSmart International Standards Summit 2019 in Beijing.

They received this prestigious prize for developing a methodology and algorithm to automate the mapping and conversion of real-world Building Information Modelling (BIM) models — in a format known as Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) — into CityGML models.

CityGML models store digital 3D models of cities and landscapes. It defines ways to describe most of the common 3D features and objects found in cities (such as buildings, roads, rivers, bridges, vegetation and city furniture) and the relationships between them.

In contrast, BIM is a way to generate digital 3D representations of places to gain an idea of the physical and functional characteristics. This then gives architects, engineers, and construction professionals the tools needed to more efficiently plan, design, construct, and manage buildings and infrastructure.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) both encourage e-submissions of BIM models, as they can simulate construction processes, reducing risks and cost overruns, and can be used for various building performance assessments.

However, it is often insufficient to model and simulate a building on its own. The model should also account for the surrounding built environment. “The built environment impacts the building performance and, vice versa, the building impacts the performance of the built environment, such as with urban heat islands, shading and solar gain, wind and natural ventilation,” Prof Stouffs explained.

BCA Academy floor CityGML.jpg

The innovative mapping and conversion process developed by the NUS Architecture researchers addresses not only exterior building elements but also interior structures, including corridors, rooms, internal doors and stairs.

Professor Stouffs said, “Integrating information from BIM models into CityGML models opens many new opportunities to analyse and simulate our built environment, which in turn can lead to better environments with increased human comfort, liveability, sustainability, and more.”

This not only adds new uses to the information that is already collected in BIM models but also adds new incentives for the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry to develop and maintain accurate BIM models. As such, it is an important step in the digitisation of the AEC industry and its processes.

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