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NXTBLD pt2 – James Anderson

15 Jun 2018

After a brief exchange with John, I made my way down the stairs into the heart of NXTBLD, fake ID in hand. The first thing to catch my eye was, the Enscape stand, complete with Oculus VR headset… I knew this was the place for me


The first session I attended was hosted by Bruce Bell of Facit Homes on Digitally manufactured big wooden ‘Lego’. What’s not to love? I’m sure every grown man has a guilty pleasure for Lego! What really hooked me here, was how Facit have integrated tech and software into their everyday workflows, greatly benefiting their outputs, efficiency, and accuracy. These processes haven’t broken the bank, using Revit for architecture and manufacturing models coupled with Enscape for quick and easy VR experiences. Google Hangouts have improved team collaboration and a 360° camera has made virtual site visits possible, proving that collaboration and digitalisation is achievable to all.

Next up was Smart Concrete. 3d printing is commonplace in the industry, but to be brutally honest, I wasn’t overly excited at the prospect of this session and wondered how smart concrete was going to wow me. Fast forward 10minutes into Andrei Jipa’s slot and I was frantically snapping photos of the concrete skeleton, boats with precision detailed bones, created via 3d printed casts, at less than 1mm thick!! Equally amazing were the concrete floor slabs ETH Zurich have created. Made up of millions of facets, these slabs dramatically reduce the volume of concrete used in production, whilst simultaneously remaining load bearing and sustainable. Why isn’t everyone using these?!

After a bite to eat, I sat down to the one I had been really waiting for ….Epic Games. If you were following the @BIMStrategy twitter feed, you will know that I am a self-proclaimed Fortnite fan, alas Marc Petit wasn’t handing out free v-bucks. He did, however, showcase the unbelievable possibilities achievable with Unreal Engine, it’s is no wonder that adoption has been so high, with 1 in 5 users already using UE4 for real-time render. This session, coupled with the Soluis stand, really impressed me; interactive, immersive experiences, such as the new Spurs stadium experience, (showcased by both Epic and Soluis) are such important and engaging tools for the client. John and I agreed that whilst in-house, we are capable of providing excellent renders with Lumion, anything on this level we would advise opting for the experts like Soluis.

Just before the beers came out, I managed to squeeze in an extended demo of Enscape with Moritz plugging me into VR tours of the Villa Savoye, the German Pavilion and an enormous red building in China (the name totally escapes me). Being a Revit technician by trade, I was blown away by the speed and ease – native Revit models were only a click away from a VR walkthrough. Intrigued and impressed, I made my way to chat with the Lumion guys and, low and behold, I wasn’t the first person to ask when they would be integrating Xbox controller and full VR capability. I look forward to release 9.

After spending the good part of an hour gushing over Lumion (a software we have implemented at Niven little over a year ago) and picking up a few tips and cheats, I worked the room, chatting to interesting individuals comparing views on the afternoon’s sessions and the exhibitions.

Before I knew it, it was time to make a late, mad dash to Kings Cross to catch my train home, where I had the chance to sit and digest everything I had taken in at NXTBLD. Its safe to say I headed home feeling totally inspired.

If you’ve not read Pt1 of the BIM Strategy NXTBLD review, click here and we’ll take you there.