Sunday, July 21, 2024

Virtual Design and Construction: The Importance of Innovation

Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) is a process that allows us to build a virtual building model which can have all the project information integrated into it to replicate the actual built environment and various scenarios.

What is VDC?

The term Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) was introduced back in 2001 at Stanford for research and teaching purposes and now there is a wide array of applications that follow this process for efficient results. From the construction workflow point of view, Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) is a process that allows us to build a virtual building model which can have all the project information integrated into it to replicate the actual built environment and various scenarios.

The possibilities of integrating information data within the model geometry are enormous and can be leveraged for various purposes throughout the project’s life cycle. For example, in the design stage, the model can be used to visualize the proposed design, perform clash detection & design coordination activities, perform value engineering, construction simulation or get design approvals.

Subsequently, during the construction stage, the project schedules, cost, safety parameters, and design progress, among many others, can be monitored. The project team can easily identify potential risks and hazards on a project and plan accordingly to mitigate those risks.

Finally, during the post construction stage, the facility management team can leverage this enormous information for monitoring the BMS and maintenance activities.

Why the need?

Any construction project’s success is highly dependent on the decisions made during the early stages of the project life cycle. In addition, project planning at the beginning of the design is the most effective and critical, which will determine the successful implementation of the project. As we know, the construction industry is very fragmented and multiple stakeholders are required to coordinate the designing, executing, and functioning of the project. Therefore, it is essential to have all the requirements perfectly coordinated in advance to avoid last-minute interventions and changes.

This problem statement is not very new; it exists in every sector and was manually catered to in earlier times. The lack of automated processes and technology led to mistakes or misses, and in turn, a lot of waste of time, cost, and resources. Traditionally, representations of designs, processes, and execution plans were presented in two-dimensional drawings or documents, which places constraints on the visual experience of stakeholders and their ability to take correct decisions because of not having a holistic picture.

However, with the technological advances in the construction technology and better tools at our disposal, technologies and process like VDC enable us to design and deliver the construction project with more efficiency and precision while saving a lot of time and cost of construction operations.


In a broad sense, VDC is synonymous with BIM (Building Information Model). However, there is a slight difference between the two. In plain terms, Virtual Design and Construction can be considered a visual management process, whereas BIM (Building Information Model) is one of the application tools that allows us to execute the VDC process.

For example, BIM or other application tools can be used to conduct Virtual Design and Construction processes like 3D visualization, lighting analysis, thermal analysis, energy analysis, structural analysis, visual scheduling, virtual mockups, cost analysis, safety audits, logistics, space planning, etc. To name a few, the most prevalent tools and applications in use in the industry are BIM, Tekla, Sketchup, Bently, and 3D Max.

At Colliers, we constantly endeavor to innovate with pioneering technology to improve our processes and better cater to our clientele. There are many construction management applications that we have developed in-house like Cogence which has a wide range of application in the construction industry.

About the Author: 

Taha Ansari, Managing Director | India – Business & Operations and Developer Relations, Colliers

Taha Ansari is a highly experienced professional with close to three decades of experience in the Real Estate industry. He is leading and managing all aspects of the Project Management Service Line in North & East India including financial planning, profitability, client relationships and new business.


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