Building services engineering: when “digital” and “analogue” merge into one

For the expansion of the office building of Basler & Hofmann in Esslingen in the canton of Zurich, everyone involved in the project from all the trades that make up building services engineering carried out all their planning exclusively and simultaneously using a single digital model. For the ventilation technology, both production and installation were carried out directly from the model. A site visit during installation of the ventilation system offers insight into the future of construction: all installation work is carried out straight from a tablet and – in a pilot test – even using augmented reality goggles.

It is a sunny morning in February. We meet Maximilian Weiss, BIM coordinator at Basler & Hofmann, at the construction site in Esslingen. In his hands he holds a tablet. The screen shows a three-dimensional model with countless cables and lines running side-by-side. The digital model contains all the different trades of building services engineering. The coordinator is getting an overview on-site of how well the planning data is being translated into reality. And he is happy with the outcome of the inspection: all cables and lines fit side-by-side as planned. Today, we often see each individual technical planner drawing up a separate model for his or her own trade. Maximilian Weiss explains that the strength of digital planning is precisely the fact that the integration of all planning data in a single model makes it possible to identify potential conflicts at an early stage.


“With augmented reality goggles, the digital model merges with the physical reality”

 Lunch break is over at the construction site in Esslingen. For Roman Marti, project manager for controlled residential ventilation at Meier-Kopp, working with a tablet is now his daily bread. This afternoon, he receives a new working tool from Federico Mazzolini, who is another BIM coordinator at Basler & Hofmann: a pair of augmented reality (AR) goggles. In the goggles, the digital model merges with the physical reality to become one. “The goggles show me exactly where the next ventilation element needs to be installed”, explains Marti. Each of the ventilation elements is assigned an identification number (ID). The manufacturer of the pipes has already worked with this ID, and for this purpose the data from the digital model was transferred straight into production. In turn, production manufactured the pipes based on the digital model and assigned the ID to them that Roman Marti is now reading with the AR goggles on the construction site to help him correctly position the individual elements. Although, for now, this is a pilot project conducted by Basler & Hofmann as part of the expansion project for the office building in Esslingen, Federico Mazzolini is convinced that we will be seeing this increasingly on construction sites in the future. “The goggles make installation much easier and improve the quality of execution”, explains the BIM coordinator.

Parties involved in the project

Building owner: Basler & Hofmann AG

Overall project management: Basler & Hofmann AG

Architecture: Stücheli Architekten AG

Master builder: Marti AG

BIM coordination: Basler & Hofmann AG

Specialist planners (structural engineering, foundation engineering, building services engineering, building physics/acoustics, fire protection, works cables and pipes): Basler & Hofmann AG

Data collection for building inventory modelling (laser scanning, drone-assisted photogrammetry): Basler & Hofmann AG

Façade planning: feroplan engineering ag

Software development pilot project AR ventilation technology: Zheit GmbH


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