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Digital Built Environment


This group creatively applies cutting-edge digital engineering technologies such as 3D printing, digital scanning, remote sensing, and building information modelling (BIM) to improve productivity and performance in the construction industry. Areas of research include:  

Virtual Reality and Visualisation 

This research pioneers the use of virtual reality and visualisation technologies across various disciplines and integrates them into research and exciting enterprise activities. 3D scan-to-BIM projects are used to virtually visualise proposed structures for new buildings and spaces. These have been used and considered vital for the evaluation of proposed schemes by city planners and future investors in the North East such as the Stephenson Quarter and the proposed development of the ‘Whey Aye’ Wheel.   

A joint venture between Northumbria University, and Newcastle and Gateshead City councils known as ‘Virtual Newcastle Gateshead’ has been set up to create 3D models of the core urban areas of Newcastle and Gateshead. Researchers are also working with Sunderland councils to develop virtual Sunderland 3D city models.  

Building Information Modelling 

Northumbria’s Building Information Modelling (BIM) research has redefined digital transformation policies in national construction sectors and has been used in major, high profile developments such as the Sydney opera House.  

Research in BIM upskilling has helped develop a framework for developing BIM Competency. Large organisations now use this such as Historic Environment Scotland. 

Work from researchers in the Department was instrumental in the creation and development of a new building informatics digital toolkit known as ‘xBIM’. This open-source software transfers accurate and complete information in an automated way throughout phases of the building lifecycle such as design, construction, operation and management. xBIM is the most widely adopted BIM toolkit in the world and has seen wide-scale uptake by industry, helping to cement Northumbria's role as national leaders in BIM.  


Projects and partnerships 

Evaluation of BIM Maturity and Benefits Tools project

This report by Northumbria examined 25 different ways of evaluating BIM maturity and the benefits available to industry, recommending the development of a framework for maturity assessment tools to ensure a standardised approach. The report was commission by the centre for Digital Built Britain in partnership with the UK BIM Alliance. 

Persistent Digital Identifiers for Construction Projects 

This Project addressed the need for a common, persistent digital identification system for all construction products. This is a critical requirement needed to move the construction sector to digital.  

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