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, especially in the areas of schedule and cost security as well as in planning quality. 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 as early as in the development and planning phase. This not only helps to optimize planning and thus accelerate the actual construction process but also to communicate construction results and infrastructure adjustments to the public at a low-threshold level in advance and to convince customers of the planned construction project.

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

Visualisierung eines Stadtteils mit verschiedenfarbigen Grundrissen in der VRVis-Simulationssoftware 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 Visdom, 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

Bild eines aus Punkten rekonstrukierten Hauses mit Umgebung.
Reality Capture and working with state-of-the-art point cloud technologies open up completely new possibilities for digitally planning and testing real-world designs down to the smallest detail.

Reality capturing methods make it possible to digitally reconstruct any environment exactly as it is in reality. This is important not only because the digital copy helps to perform analyses and make decisions, but also because digital reconstruction is an important documentation. In the course of our research work, we have created solutions for this purpose that enable 3D reconstructions from point clouds with semi-automatic segmentation of existing structures. According to the principle: capture - understand - simplify. These intelligent reconstructions are the ideal starting points for even more efficient digital planning.

Our research results as well as our basic technology for reconstruction, visualization and semantic modelling are used in the reality capturing tool 3DWorx of our industrial partner rmDATA, which enables planners to quickly create a 3D model of existing buildings from point clouds derived from laser scans or photogrammetry. Additionally, the entire reconstruction chain from scan to finished product can be mapped and the derivation of relevant geometries, e.g. to facilitate the creation of plans, is also made easy. 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) combines digital reconstructions with a variety of real-world data and information to make planning and execution processes of construction and infrastructure projects more collaborative and efficient. To further strengthen the possibilities of BIM for the construction industry, we optimize our reconstruction and reality capturing solutions to integrate them seamlessly into BIM processes. In addition, we are researching new ways of automatically generating intelligent 3D reconstructions based on BIM data. Together with construction companies, we are also working out how XR can be used to support 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.

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.

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 will hit and accordingly, e.g., to change drilling parameters and to adjust safety measures in the tunnel.

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.