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News & opinion

27 MAR. 2018

Changing the lives of 90% of real estate professionals

By mastering the full capabilities of technology, such as BIM, at a city level, we are able to create a completely customisable built environment. CEO, Southeast Asia, Savills, Chris Marriott FRICS explains why digitisation is going to change the lives of 90% of the real estate profession.

Take building information modelling (BIM)  the Shangri-La for architects, engineers, quantity surveyors and developers. Knowing every brick, every pipe and every cable of a building, and being able to map them in a 3D plan that can be altered in live time, is only scratching the surface of the power and complexity of BIM.

Armed with this information, professionals can optimise a project on a cost-versus-design basis. Then they can pass a fully rendered 3D model of an asset to the property and facility managers. Those managers can, in turn, use building sensors to optimise the performance of the building for power consumption, emissions and many other criteria.

The 3D rendering of an asset also puts it in the context of a macro- and micro-environment. From the outset of the design, to positioning the building within the confines of the site, you understand the impact of that building in real terms on the surrounding location. It’s possible for the developer, architect, building engineer and surveyor to justify why the building design matches the topography of the cityscape.

Truly smart cities

Beyond the scale of individual buildings, there is the goal of creating a truly smart city. This is something that Singapore has gone all-out to achieve. They have paid French company Dassault Systèmes S$73m ($54m) to create Virtual Singapore, a comprehensive rendering of the entire city in 3D: its topography, current buildings, infrastructure and future plans.

What can smart-nation Singapore learn from other smart cities?

Sustainability factors, transport patterns, human footfall: once you have a rendered environment, you can start modelling the impact of change on that city, on that district, or on that site in that building.

One pertinent example for cities in Asia’s warmer climates is the environmental issues related to wind and cooling. Singapore wants to create a 3D model of existing and future developments to determine whether the massing of buildings will generate sufficient wind funnelling effects to create natural cooling. It’s a matter of gathering massive amounts of wind data through sensors monitored over time, then modelling that information in your 3D-rendered city.

With a dynamic, live 3D-rendered virtual representation of a building, you are then able to understand the cost of construction down to the quantities of input and quantities and qualities of materials. In the event that an architect decides to change the design, you can recalculate the quantities and therefore the cost of construction.

The world will move away from the concept of 'this is what we have built, you have to live and work in it' to 'this is what I want to live or work in. Can you build it for me?'

The nirvana would then be to have the rental or price projections relative to the design. If, for instance, you changed lower floors to more retail from offices, the cost may go up because of the mixed-use nature of the asset, but the returns may go up further and make this a more attractive investment. You could have those quantitative aspects assessed instantly.

Once you have the asset digitised and rendered, you can also start to monitor its performance with sensors. One of the most progressive areas in which we are seeing performance analytics being used is in shopping malls. Behavioural analytics of the individual retailers are determining the design, layout and tenant mix of those developments. This is blending data with financial performance to get an optimisation of building rates and rental performance.

Complete customisation

Ultimately, technology will allow us to customise real estate completely. The world will move away from the traditional concept of "this is what we have built, you have to live and work in it" to "this is what I want to live or work in. Can you build it for me?" 

This is an extract from Modus Asia edition, Q1 2018. Modus is RICS’ quarterly magazine that brings you the latest news and views, expert advice and in-depth features spanning the breadth of the surveying profession around the world.