Digital Planning

3D visualization of a wind farm with differently colored fields and a large wind turbine in the foreground
A GEARViewer visualization shows a planned large photovoltaic array in Lower Austria, complementing an existing wind park area.

Digital technologies open up great opportunities for the construction industry. Planning can consider a wide variety of heterogeneous data such as energy efficiency, sustainability, costs and environmental impacts. For example, digital twins of a future construction or infrastructure project can be used to simulate a wide variety of scenarios and test planning alternatives. This not only helps to optimize planning and thus accelerate the actual construction process but also to communicate plans to all stakeholders and the general public in an attractive way at a low-threshold level.

Over the past few years, we have already implemented several solutions in the field of digital planning. For example, our visualization framework GEARViewer creates easy-to-understand visualizations and digital twins even for the most complex infrastructure projects. We also offer support in the area of digital planning with BIM as well as simulations, which can be used in many ways, from the evaluation of constructional measures in flood protection to energy and light planning.

Sponge City

Visualization of a city district with different coloured floor plans in the VRVis simulation software Visdom.
Simulation of measures for water-sensitive urban design with elements such as green roofs, retention storage, and open drainage.

Cities and municipalities, in particular, are suffering from the consequences of climate change: heatwaves alternate with extreme weather events such as heavy rainfall and flooding. Although climate change is a global problem, local measures, especially in urban areas, have great potential for significant improvements. The increasingly frequent and heavy rainfall can not only be tamed by innovative urban development concepts such as Sponge City but also used productively. With our unique digital simulation and visualization application viscloud, we solve real problems caused by high levels of water. Often even simple measures, such as green roofs or rainwater-fed biotopes, bring improvement. In case of an emergency, protection plans and crisis measures, which were previously developed based on our simulations, help to limit damage and save lives.

Reality Capturing

Aus Punkten eines Laserscans rekonstruiertes Haus.
Aus Punkten eines Laserscans rekonstruiertes Haus.

Our reality capturing solutions facilitate precise digital reconstructions of real environments, providing crucial documentation and empowering data-driven insights. We have developed efficient tools for 3D reconstructions from point clouds, featuring semi-automatic segmentation of existing structures and context-aware user assistance. Guided by the capture-understand-simplify principle, our intelligent reconstructions serve as robust foundations for streamlined digital planning.

Our cutting-edge research outcomes and foundational technologies in reconstruction, visualization, and semantic modelling have been seamlessly integrated into the reality capturing tool 3DWorx, developed by our industrial partner rmDATA. This tool empowers planners with the ability to efficiently generate high-quality 3D models of real-world structures using point clouds obtained from laser scans or photogrammetry. Furthermore, it offers a comprehensive reconstruction pipeline, encompassing the entire process from scan to the final product. Our Geospatial Visualization, Semantic Modelling and Acquisition Research Group is specialized in the field of reality capturing and reconstruction.


A researcher wearing a face mask explains to bystanders what is on the screen.
3D visualizations from real-world and planning data open up entirely new dimensions for the BIM sector, both on the desktop and in extended reality.

Building Information Modeling (BIM) enhances collaboration and efficiency in construction and infrastructure projects by integrating digital reconstructions with real-world data. We optimize our reconstruction and reality capturing solutions to integrate them seamlessly into BIM processes within the construction industry. Our ongoing research focuses on automated generation of intelligent 3D reconstructions using BIM data. Collaborating closely with construction companies, we explore the utilization of XR to bolster future planning processes and beyond.

With our lighting simulation software HILITE it is possible to simulate physically exact, high-quality real-time visualization directly from BIM data, linked with information on materials, geometry, light sources, etc. In cooperation with our partner, the Österreichischen Bundesbahnen (ÖBB), we have specially tailored this technology to novel BIM planning methods for the optimal lighting of railway stations. Our Geospatial Visualization, Semantic Modelling and Acquisition research group has many years of experience in the field of lighting, light simulation and BIM.

Our Geospatial Visualization, Semantic Modelling and Acquisition research group has many years of experience in the field of lighting, light simulation and BIM.


Visualization of a building cross-section in which a room is colorfully highlighted.
EnVis analyses BIM data to retrieve neighbouring surfaces between rooms to perform thermal calculations.

Our thermal simulation software EnVis analyses BIM data to derive a Building Energy Model (BEM), which state as the foundation for our thermal calculation kernel. The automatized data integration makes the error-prone and time-consuming data wrangling of complex neighbouring information obsolete, allowing experts to focus on their main tasks. Changes within the BIM life cycle can be forwarded efficiently, allowing experts to adopt their thermal design to the new requirements.

Light Simulation and Lighting Design

Büroraum, der mit einer Kombination aus Lichtdeisgn und natürlichem Licht ausgeleuchtet ist.
Planning and design processes become significantly more efficient and also more cost-effective thanks to lighting simulation tools developed at VRVis.

Especially in public spaces, but also in offices and within one's home, optimal lighting is of great importance. The correct calculation of all lighting effects in a complex scene, however, poses great challenges due to the large number of parameters to be included, from light source and location to angles and physical rules regarding material properties. In many years of cooperation with Zumtobel Licht we have expanded our know-how in the field of lighting simulation and researched visualization methods for the evaluation of planning scenarios. The research results have been presented at international conferences and can also be applied to other industries such as construction and energy simulation.

A current use case for the interactive, realistic real-time lighting simulations by VRVis and Zumtobel is the comprehensive illumination concept for the UEFA stadium in Osijek, Croatia, the Opus Arena.

Tunnel Documentation and Analysis

The interface of a computer program showing a tunnel with various survey points and markers.
The software, jointly developed by Dibit and VRVis, is used to create 3D models for damage mapping on the tunnel surface.

Tunnels are subject to strong forces that are constantly affecting their walls. Because it is not possible to check the condition of the walls in every detail on-site, for many years methods have been developed with which tunnel walls are scanned and then reproduced as digital 3D copies. Together with our industrial partner dibit Messtechnik GmbH, a worldwide operating engineering company, we are working on improving and at the same time expanding the possibilities of tunnel monitoring by digital twins.

Thanks to our applied research work, it is already possible for us to document and evaluate cracks, deformations of the tunnel structure or other damages accurately from the computer screen to carry out targeted rehabilitation work. The research results integrated in the dibit software are also used to support the construction phase of tunnels by geological analysis. Here it is possible to predict the rock layers the drill head willaccor hit and e.g. change drilling parameters and adjust safety measures in the tunnel accordingly. The saved documentation during different phases of the life of a tunnel is also used for comparison of the underlying rock layers with the current state or to analyze the progression of cracks and other surface damage.

Digital Twin

A woman with MNS stands at a large screen and points to a spot on the flood risk map of Austria; a VRVis researcher also with MNS stands in the background and explains to her exactly what she can see on the screen.
Digital twins and realistic 3D visualizations help to better understand real situations, e.g., in the field of climate change adaptation, and also to make them understandable for the general public.

Digital twins and models are the future of all kinds of digitization projects. This is especially true for infrastructure and construction because digital planning and building is faster, safer, and cheaper. The digital twin is born parallel to an idea, "grows" with the real object using real data and measurements and serves as a template and means of communication for planning processes as well as a simulation model in which all conceivable plans and scenarios can be played through before they are implemented. Since our research has been intensively dealing with the possible applications of digital twins for 20 years, we can already present a wide range of solutions and successfully implemented use cases, ranging from tunnel monitoring to state-of-the-art hydrodynamic modelling in the field of flood protection. A core part of the simulation software Visdom is a digital hydro-twin, able to model full cities (i. a.).