« Previous Post | BLAUGI | Next Post »

2018.10.13

BILT EUR 2018, First Look

A BiLT event is very human-centric. As mentioned in Part One of this blog series, the number of attendees is limited to maintain an intimate community vibe. Official count from the organisers of BiLT Eur 2018 for the number of delegates, speakers and vendors is over 300 total, representing 32 countries from around the globe. The highest number of attendees from any one country were travelling from the UK, followed by the USA and Denmark. 

IMG_9561

The GR Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre is just under 1 kilometre from the various hotels available for attendees, which I arrived at with several others under our own power, and buses are also provided. Coffee and tea breaks between sessions and a not too early start of 9 AM makes for a great environment for learning new ways to use design technologies. Kicking off the opening plenary session, Marcus Fich, BILT Europe Chairman described our purpose for coming together with the provocative, “We are here to break down the silos of our industry” to more collaboratively work together; a concept I wholeheartedly endorse. 

IMG_9557

On the walk over to the event, I noticed a curious collection of stone pillars in a park and discovered they are part of a project called Hologram of Europe. The concept, while a bit mystical in nature, has a great mission: to uniquely celebrate member states of the EU, and those in the region. From the website (requires Adobe Flash) “The Hologram of Europe is composed of 27 stone pillars for the 27 member states of European Union, 6 additional pillars for those countries or regions that function outside the Union yet belong to Europe and one lithopuncture stone for Ljubljana, the host of the project”. Essentially, as Marcus was inferring, we are a part of a larger community. Keeping that in mind, below are some observations.

We heard in the opening plenary that the day before to the event the first BILT Academy Summit was held in the city here at a local university building. The summit consisted of 80 people, providing students from around Europe and professionals who spend time in the lab to have some hands-on practical uses for the common enabling technologies of BIM, Computational Design, and reality capture to encourage expert-level thinking to ready the students to enter their respected professions in the AEC industry. 

Cropped-BILT_Academy_LinkedIN-2

“BIM is not Fake News” was the on point slogan for event promotional materials.

Taking the stage next Zach Kron, leading the Generative Design Group at Autodesk, provided some prompts for conversation, suggesting why we might need to have more focus on collaboration. “More is inevitable”, he said. More work, opportunity, constraints and more people, and with the majority of those people having the expectation of being in the middle class. We may have a reality alignment problem, however there is a belief that more complex, mega building projects as a trend is here to stay. As these people concentrate into our cities, this leads to more congestion.

 

Zach then continued saying, “Less is a reality”, he continued explaining that we have less natural resources, less time. With an over one trillion dollar infrastructure gap in the US, opportunities abound to do more with less. He suggested Generative Design can help balance the constraints and opportunities to work within this fast paces world, leading to more prefabrication, systems thinking and high-performance buildings.

 

 

Graphisoft presented three possible solutions to interoperability:

  • Compel every tool to speak each other’s language
  • Promote a single existing proprietary format (the PDF of BIM) - like Revit
  • Embracing an open platform neutral format - IFC

What if Revit became the way forward, like the English language becoming the defacto language of business. He suggested we could create a new language, and used Esperanto as one example, or we could have a better way to translate between languages, although as anyone who uses online translation tools, lots of errors are introduced and meaning can become lost. However he proposed that mathematics is the one universal language that we can all understand. It doesn’t do everything, however it does a lot well and reliably. Compatibility is not equal to Interoperability. Thinking in workflows is how we will realise the efficiencies BIM promises. Graphisoft is a promoter of using their investments in the OpenBIM approach.

The Main Keynote

Keynote speaker Dr. Beau Lotto, founder and CEO of Lab of Misfits, describes his consultancy as “the world’s first neuro-design studio”. In his talk entitled, “Seeing Differently: The best design begins with not knowing”, Dr. Lotto posits that innovation is outpacing vocational education with his observation, “the top ten jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004”. If we focus only on efficiency in a changing world, we will become stagnant and lose. Dr. Lotto’s proposed solution is to balance creativity with efficiency. Understanding perception is to understand what it is to be human, he made a promise saying, “You will know less at the end … upon leaving”. A true scientist. I was hoping he only meant his keynote.

IMG_9505

Information by itself is meaningless. He went on to describe how we can never see the world as it really is, because we are separate from it. We only interpret the information that comes in through our senses as we’re locked inside our own bodies. The hate, pain and love we feel are simply how we are programmed to respond to the world based on our own inherent biases and assumptions. Emotions don’t exist outside ourselves, yet design tries to always create an emotional connection with people. After showing us a series of hilarious lol cats and videos challenging our perceptions, he convinced many of us that creativity isn’t really a giant leap. Creativity, and therefore innovation, is simply when someone makes a small step to the next possibility and manages to change their biases and assumptions. From the outside, it appears someone is making a big leap, however they just have a different perception of possibilities than you.

Possibility of better solutions is to create an environment of diversity and stimulus, without overdoing stimulus. Here is where he describes how his design studio suggests to clients the pairing of efficient experts and creative novices working together. Dr. Lotto left us with the thought saying, “Experts don’t ask the right questions, but recognise when a good question is asked”.

My Class Highlights

There were so many classes to choose from. When I first signed up, admittedly I chose my sessions somewhat quick. Knowing that, I looked over the classes on display in the big board, as the app on my phone provided by the organisers in the Apple IOS App Store and Google Play. Then I broke the rules a bit. My first class was an advanced programming class for ArchiCAD, a tool I know nothing about, so I quietly made my escape and sat in the back of a Dynamo class led by Radu Gidei of Grimshaw that showed some really fantastic concepts about programming that enables cross-platform development for various tools. It opened up a great deal of possibilities for custom development. 

IMG_9460

IMG_9508

Computational Wizardry

A session discussing possibility in: “From NURBS to Meshes – Parametric design & BIM”, Ákos Karóczkai, of Graphisoft described how tools that previously were separate can become more integrated. The company worked closely in partnership with McNeel to embed a grasshopper workflow into ArchiCAD. Some very compelling imagery and videos were shown in a design platform one would not normally expect to see parametric design explorations. It does make one stop to think that, even an old BIM tool (ArchiCAD is a nearly 35 year old architectural modelling platform) can be taught new tricks. Initially, this seems like a good approach, however the function of moving data is handled by an API, rather than using existing open source tools. I came away with the feeling this workflow may have been more interesting to explore the possibilities of Grasshopper reading/writing IFC directly and having that translation sit in the middle. It might be that I’m a bit naive or that I see many people approaching the same problems over and over rather than making the leap to solve new bigger ones. To read up more on these tools and how they are integrated, visit this ArchiCad page.

Making the Invisible, Visible

The history of data on an object is not immediately available to us in the physical world. This may be why the idea of COBie spreadsheets has become so common. The spreadsheet is an initial attempt at passing some asset data to facilities managers to augment the pieces and parts of a building. Cesar Escalante and Alberto Tono of HOK showed in “Augmented Reality and Deep Learning in the Design Process” some ways we could bridge that gap between the digital and physical world. Head-mounted display (HMD) trends as predicted in a Credence Research report predict a doubling of the combined Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) headset market to 70 million units by the year 2022. That number could climb rapidly if the rumours of highly secretive companies, Apple and Amazon both separately working on their own devices to compete with the already large number of options out there, are true. Preparing models for AR/VR takes a lot of computational horsepower and many platforms. The group at HOK propose that Speckle, a web service beginning to fill the void left by the now shut Flux.io, may have some answers. 

Computer programming for designers doesn’t have to be complex or a barrier to experimentation. The presenters illustrated how facial recognition is accomplished with just three lines of code and  the $250 Amazon AWS DeepLens. Gasps of delight were heard throughout the room when they showed how a Microsoft lab in San Francisco was used to capture real time video from multiple angles that could potentially one day allow us to put real people as actors in our architectural visualisations.

With AR enabled mobile devices assisting in the activities of collaboration and model review, HOK developed bespoke tools to capture gazing time on various parts of the virtual model from different devices and display that data as a heat map. This type of information could be used as a way to inform better projects, based on what areas the participants focused.

That was just day one… whew! Signing off for now, I’ve got more to share in my third and final segment, coming soon. Until then, keep thinking about the questions you ask of your work, and how our tools can help answer those questions.

This is the second of three articles in my series on the BiLT Europe 2018 event. You can read more at: Part One: About BiLT Europe 2018 and Part Three: BiLT Europe 2018 Final Thoughts.


About Sean David Burke

A member of AUGI since 1997, Sean has been at the forefront of BIM for most of his career. His focus on advancing the adoption of digital tools as a Senior Associate at NBBJ and previously with Autodesk has always been to inspire and instruct others around the world in order to make building better.

Comments

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this blog until they have been approved.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In, or enter your details below.

Recent Posts

Categories

Archives