Research and applications related to Virtual Reality (VR) in the Architecture, Engineering, Construction and Facility Management (AEC/FM) industry are steadily increasing, being considered as one of the current trends in digital innovation. A convergence is currently on-going between Building Information Modelling (BIM), VR implementation and the soft landings principles, which highlight the need for a smooth transition from design to operation through the early involvement of clients and end-users. In particular, immersive virtual environments could allow stakeholders to experience the full-scale representation of a virtual facility prototype in an intuitive and engaging manner through immersion and sense of presence, promoting feedback collection during usability-focused design review meetings. On the other hand, despite the renewed interest in immersive VR, both technological and procedural challenges to its effective implementation still exist. The latter are within the scope of this study, which aims to address them in a systematic way as a comprehensive guideline for clients and design teams. This study describes the development of a VR-aided usability-focused design review session protocol for implementing immersive VR when clients and end-users are involved in design review meetings. It is the result of an inductive approach associated with qualitative research methods for data collection and data analysis. A case study has been selected as a main research method for facing the first step into the research problem. A further iteration of data collection and analysis was adopted to guarantee the validity of the research, including talks with experts and literature comparison. Finally, the session protocol has been developed in the form of a process map representing all the necessary phases and activities to consider for the effective adoption of immersive VR to evaluate design intents with clients and end-users. As a comprehensive summary, the session protocol fills a gap in the research on the adoption of virtual reality in the AEC industry, which was lacking a prescriptive and structured process to drive the effective use of this technology in collaborative meetings and decision-making processes.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The Construction Technology Institute of the National Research Council of Italy (ITC-CNR) funded the PhD scholarship of Silvia Mastrolembo Ventura, who collected the data for this research as PhD Candidate at Politecnico di Milano (Italy). The VR system and the visualisation package that have been used to prepare the VR representation were provided by TeamSystem Spa. The authors would like to acknowledge Dr. Dragana NLNROLü for the significant comments and discussion about the topic, as well as Dr. Barbara Angi and Dr. Lavinia C. Tagliabue for their contribution in the organisation of the case study. The authors would like to mention Stefano Libretti, Carlo Cominelli and Marco Gelfi who developed the design proposal and set the immersive virtual environment.
© 2020 The author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.
- Design management
- Design review
- Procedural guidelines
- Stakeholder engagement
- Usability evaluation
- Virtual facility prototype
- Virtual reality