Design Innovation Research Centre

Lead Research Organisation: University of Reading
Department Name: Construction Management and Engineering

Abstract

Design is located between the crafts of making and the experiences of using. Digital models currently isolate the designer in the closed digital world, taking attention away from these important connections. A new mode of design is necessary in the UK construction industry for it to sustain its competitiveness and address major 21st century issues such as climate change. Engineering research is often focused on tools, either those to add increasingly detailed data to a finite set of building components; or those to encode algorithms for simulating processes and behaviours. Yet Dr Whyte found that the introduction of integrated models on major projects and programmes has not improved effectiveness, but has instead had unintended and negative consequences. In some instances these include generating too much data; making work progress harder to track and displaying designs in ways that make them look reliable before they have been fully tested. There is a need to transform the research field by focusing on effective visualization of design data in both digital and physical design environments.Rapid developments in visual interfaces, largely driven by the gaming and entertainment industries, provide an opportunity to develop more intuitive interfaces, taking 3D digital models out of the 2D screen and making them visible within physical design environments. The aspiration is to make digital models central to the conversation between engineers, manufacturers, fabricators, assemblers, clients and users. There is the potential to sit around a model; to walk around it together; to overlay and interrogate multiple environmental simulations and to compare and contrast design intent with scanned as-built models. The proposed Design Innovation Research Centre (DIRC) will develop new ways of visualizing data for shared design inquiry. The team will scientifically study design activities; and develop novel engineering solutions. DIRC's scientific study team will capture best-practice on major international projects. DIRC's engineering solutions team will create new tools and processes for design innovation. As an open and networked laboratory, the Centre will be the hub of intellectual activity, spanning across disciplines with a virtual and physical presence and nodes in both university and industry. Through inter-disciplinary research and its strong connections with industry, DIRC will be able to react quickly, will operate at the forefront of the research area and will add value by developing skills that are needed within academia and industry. Challenging Engineering funding enables the applicant to bring together and develop a multidisciplinary team of researchers (from engineering, design, ICT, building science and management) to address the challenges of design in the digital economy. The Centre will extend Dr Whyte's trajectory of work, recognizes the importance of shared 3D visualization in decision-making and the need for flexible solutions that do not lock designers into particular approaches too early in the design process. It will thrive through strong research and through deep engagement with industrial partners and associate members. At the end of the Challenging Engineering funding period the Centre will be an internationally-excellent, sustainable, and actively-disseminating, centre of excellence in the UK for 21st century design innovation.

Planned Impact

1. Who will benefit from this research? The Design Innovation Research Centre (DIRC) will benefit the UK economy. In the first 5 years particular beneficiaries will be industry, policy and the younger members of society. Industrial users include engineers, designers, managers, clients and ICT developers. Policy users include engineering institutions, industry bodies, government departments and policy organizations. Younger members of society are the next generation of UK engineers. 2. How will they benefit from this research? Industry Users - Scientific studies of design practices (Theme 1) have the potential to increase the international competitiveness of the UK in high value areas of major projects and to develop new strategies, skills and capabilities for engineering excellence. Research on playful engineering and design innovation (Theme 2) will provide novel solutions for practicing engineers that enable new kinds of hybrid digital and physical design practices. Dr Whyte's team will work directly with engineers and designers from large international firms (e.g. Arup and Halcrow) and from SMEs (e.g. Fulcro) to ensure that they benefit from the new tools for design innovation. A wider set of engineers and designers will be engaged through workshops and seminars, such as the planned 2010 Institution of Civil Engineers seminars, and through the interactive website. Client managers in both the commercial private sector and in the public sector have little knowledge about how to specify and procure design. They have embraced the Design Quality Indicators (DQI), developed in Dr Whyte's prior research, as a checklist of relevant issues. The team will work with Vinci to develop new tools and approaches for design in the digital economy that help managers and clients to direct attention to the emerging critical issues. Collaboration with software developers such as Bentley and Inition will ensure that findings of the research are incorporated into next generation tools and that UK firms have access to the latest research outputs. Policy Users - This research is relevant to the major engineering institutions and industry bodies, including the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE); Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE); Royal Institution of British Architects (RIBA); Construction Industry Council (CIC); Constructing Excellence (CE). They will benefit from engagement in the research through setting professional agendas in the digital economy. National government departments such as BIS will benefit from the wider lessons from the international comparative work and access to the latest developments in tools and processes, and the work will develop insights that could also inform future OGC government procurement. Younger Members of Society - DIRC has benefits for the wider UK public, which it will engage through its digital infrastructure. In particular it will inspire younger members of society to consider engineering as a career, engaging with groups through National Science and Engineering week and the AIM Higher initiative, and running open days and hands-on workshops. The University's dedicated Wider Participation Office will facilitate this engagement. 3. What will be done to ensure that they benefit from this research? Communication and engagement plans include a fully interactive website with podcasts; sandpits with industrial collaborators; workshops and seminars; and wider outreach activities. There are detailed collaboration arrangements for engagement with industrial collaborators; for developing cross-disciplinary research skills; involving associate members and working in a digitally-enabled way with international scholars. Please see the attached Impact Plan for more details.

Publications

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Comi A (2014) Beyond projection: using collaborative visualization to conduct qualitative interviews in Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal

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Comi, A. (2013) Epistemic Actions in Visual Strategy Ideation: Exploring the (re-) appropriation of visual artefacts for strategy making in 3rd Organizations, Artifacts and Practices (OAP) Workshop on Time, History and Materiality in Management and Organization Studies

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Comi, A. (2014) The Visual Focus Group: Mapping participants' contribution through visualization software in International Conference Visual Methodologies: A Postdiscipline of Inclusions?

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Comi, A. (2012) Visual Artefacts in Inter-Organizational Teamwork: Exploring the Duality between Designed and Emergent Use in EGOS sub-theme 56: Practices of Inter-Organizational Collaboration: Designed or Emerging?

 
Description Findings included the significant roles of digital innovation in project delivery; the potential of collaborative visualization in shared understanding of design in projects (where we, for the first time, developed new technologies for a mobile version of an immersive visualization environment that could be put up and used to interact with Building Information Models (BIM) within an hour); the potential for processes to collaboratively view BIM to design for safety and the relationship between learning in projects and firm-level digital strategies.
Exploitation Route This work has been put to use commercially (with a small firm developing a commercial version of the collaborative visualization environment) and built on in research, to understand emerging project delivery models, and to input into policy on the digital twin.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Construction,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport

URL http://www.reading.ac.uk/designinnovation/
 
Description The findings for this research have had impact on the economic competitiveness of the UK providing input into major projects, including London 2012, Crossrail and HS2. On Crossrail, for example, our findings have been used to inform the use of augmented and virtual reality, configuration management and the hand-over of digital asset information to long-term owners and operators.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Construction,Creative Economy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description BIM Policy
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
Impact The research of the Design Innovation Research Centre had impact on the BIM policy agenda through my involvement in associated national committees such as the CIC BIM Forum, and through engagement with industry partners such as those on the advisory board. This research included new understandings of patterns of practice and outcomes, particularly in areas such as the hand-over of information from projects to infrastructure owners.
 
Description London 2012 Olympics Learning Legacy
Geographic Reach Asia 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact The work on data handover that formed part of the London 2012 Olympics learning legacy programme has had an impact on the policies for data handover in the next generation of large infrastructure projects including Crossrail. The BIM agenda has established that getting the right information at the right time has significant economic impacts and can improve environmental sustainability of construction. Our work on data handover informs the workforce, taking lessons learnt and situating them in a broader research literature to improve the educational and skill level of those delivering major projects in the UK.
URL http://learninglegacy.independent.gov.uk/documents/pdfs/systems-and-technology/425009-231-data-trans...
 
Description Crossrail Innovate 18 Programme
Amount £50,000 (GBP)
Organisation Crossrail 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2015 
End 01/2016
 
Description EPSRC Through-life Engineering Services Centre feasibility study
Amount £20,000 (GBP)
Organisation Cranfield University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2012 
End 11/2012
 
Description ICE - Funded through Information Systems Panel
Amount £9,900 (GBP)
Organisation Institution of Civil Engineers 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2010 
End 12/2010
 
Description IOSH Research Grants
Amount £108,000 (GBP)
Organisation Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) 
Sector Learned Society
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2010 
End 02/2012
 
Description DIRC Industrial advisory board 
Organisation Arup Group
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Design Innovation Research Centre Industry Advisory Board
Collaborator Contribution Design Innovation Research Centre Industry Advisory Board
Impact Design Innovation Research Centre Industry Advisory Board
Start Year 2010
 
Description DIRC Industrial advisory board 
Organisation Bentley Systems UK Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Design Innovation Research Centre Industry Advisory Board
Collaborator Contribution Design Innovation Research Centre Industry Advisory Board
Impact Design Innovation Research Centre Industry Advisory Board
Start Year 2010
 
Description DIRC Industrial advisory board 
Organisation Crossrail
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Design Innovation Research Centre Industry Advisory Board
Collaborator Contribution Design Innovation Research Centre Industry Advisory Board
Impact Design Innovation Research Centre Industry Advisory Board
Start Year 2010
 
Description DIRC Industrial advisory board 
Organisation Engineering Construction Strategies (ECS) Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Design Innovation Research Centre Industry Advisory Board
Collaborator Contribution Design Innovation Research Centre Industry Advisory Board
Impact Design Innovation Research Centre Industry Advisory Board
Start Year 2010
 
Description DIRC Industrial advisory board 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Design Innovation Research Centre Industry Advisory Board
Collaborator Contribution Design Innovation Research Centre Industry Advisory Board
Impact Design Innovation Research Centre Industry Advisory Board
Start Year 2010
 
Description DIRC Industrial advisory board 
Organisation Fulcro Engineering Services
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Design Innovation Research Centre Industry Advisory Board
Collaborator Contribution Design Innovation Research Centre Industry Advisory Board
Impact Design Innovation Research Centre Industry Advisory Board
Start Year 2010
 
Description DIRC Industrial advisory board 
Organisation Halcrow Group
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Design Innovation Research Centre Industry Advisory Board
Collaborator Contribution Design Innovation Research Centre Industry Advisory Board
Impact Design Innovation Research Centre Industry Advisory Board
Start Year 2010
 
Description DIRC Industrial advisory board 
Organisation Transport for London
Department London Underground
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Design Innovation Research Centre Industry Advisory Board
Collaborator Contribution Design Innovation Research Centre Industry Advisory Board
Impact Design Innovation Research Centre Industry Advisory Board
Start Year 2010
 
Description DIRC Industrial advisory board 
Organisation University College London
Department Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Design Innovation Research Centre Industry Advisory Board
Collaborator Contribution Design Innovation Research Centre Industry Advisory Board
Impact Design Innovation Research Centre Industry Advisory Board
Start Year 2010
 
Description DIRC Industrial advisory board 
Organisation Vinci Construction
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Design Innovation Research Centre Industry Advisory Board
Collaborator Contribution Design Innovation Research Centre Industry Advisory Board
Impact Design Innovation Research Centre Industry Advisory Board
Start Year 2010
 
Title Mobile Visualization Environment (3D-MOVE 2) 
Description A visualization set-up now used in a dedicated room at the University of Reading 
Type Of Technology Physical Model/Kit 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact Yes, this is widely used by University of Reading and part of their publicity material - they report significant impact. 
 
Title Mobile Visualization Environment (3D-MOVE) 
Description We have developed a mobile visualization environment (3D-MOVE) that allows immersive viewing of construction models. This followed work with the CAVE in Reading. The 3D-MOVE has the same footprint, but is lightweight and can be set up and calibrated in under an hour. 
Type Of Technology Physical Model/Kit 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact The 3D-MOVE has had a far-reaching effect on the international research community and industry partners, and it has been piloted at the Bentley Technology Day and Crossrail Young Professionals Conference. 
 
Description 2015: Invited panel member at the Industry Innovations Symposium at the CSCE International Construction Specialty Conference at University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presentation and discussion with Canadian academia and industry.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QX-AvPePYBQ
 
Description 2013 Breakfast seminar at Clarkslegal and Kier 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Professor Whyte gave an invited presentation to a breakfast seminar on BIM at Clarkslegal and Kier, Reading, UK, whch sparked questions and discussion.

Impacts included a wider interest in the research from industrial participants and follow up correspondence with key practitioners.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description 2013 Configuration Management workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Hosted workshop on "Configuration Management" for Airbus, CERN and Crossrail, in Crossrail Offices, London, UK, to discuss findings of research and share best practice on configuration management in leading organizations.

The workshop was an important step in the pilot study we conducted on this topic, has generated significant interest in the research in the associated organizations; and has stimulated the thinking of the research team, leading to a number of related conference and journal outputs.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description 2013 Ecobuild 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Jennifer Whyte chaired Ecobuild 2013 session on "The Business Case for BIM: Economic and Environmental Drivers" as part of the "Better through BIM" seminars at the Ecobuild held at ExCeL, London, UK.

The participation in this significant annual industry forum raised the profile of the Centre and showed its strong connections to the policy agenda around Building Information Modelling.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description 2013 Inaugural Meeting of the South West BIM Hub 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Jennifer Whyte was Sole invited presenter, talking on "Design innovation and digital data" to the Inaugural Meeting of the South West BIM Hub, Bristol, UK. Her presentation sparked questions and discussion afterwards.

The main impact was to disseminate research findings, and inform participants of the research and the related policy agenda on BIM. After this talk, there has been sustained contact with a few participants, with shared participation in a Linked-In group related to BIM for collaborative working.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description 2013 Innovate UK exhibition 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The EPSRC invited the team to have a stand at this Conference at Business Design Centre London, UK; and we thus took part in Innovate UK 2013 exhibition, hosted by the Technology Strategy Board and UK Trade & Investment.

The stand showcased our research, and generated significant interest among participants at the conference. This included related research teams and practitioners with stands; and those that were participating in the Conference's wider programme of activities showcasing UK innovation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description 2013 Workshop for Infrastructure UK Client Working Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Hosted "Information and Digital Technologies" seminar for major infrastructure clients, in Reading, for . Presentations by research team: Dr Lobo, Dr Davies and myself; and UK Power Networks, Anglian Water, London Underground and Heathrow Airport with other representatives from Environment Agency, UK Power Networks, TFL, Highways Agency, Anglian Water and BAA.

The seminar had an impact on major infrastructure clients, including UK Power Networks, Anglian Water, London Underground, Heathrow Airport, Environment Agency, TFL, Highways Agency, and BAA; and helped shape the work of the Infrastructure UK Client Working Group collaborative project teams programme.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description 2014 National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) conference in Washington DC 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact "Digital Information across the Design/Construction Interface", and2 other presentations
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description 2014 Participation in the BIM level 3 workshops 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Professor Whyte provided research input and engaged in debate on the 'culture' table of these workshops that provided input to the shaping government policy relating to level 3 BIM.

The workshop participation built community in areas associated with the research; and made new audiences aware of the research capacity developed through the Centre.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description 2014 Reading Collaboration Colloquium Industry Day, University of Reading, Malaysia. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation by Professor Jennifer Wyte on "Digitisation and BIM - a major project perspective for managing asset data" in University of Reading offices in in Johor Bahru

The presentation generated significant interest among invited practitioners from across Asia, who had travelled from countries such as China, Vietnam, and others for the industry day, and the practitioners showed real interest in the research team's trajectory of work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description 2014 Transportation Research Board (TRB) Conference in Washington 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presented to the AFH30 Committee of the Transportation Research Board (TRB)

The presentation resulted in Professor Whyte being invited to participate as a member of the AFH30 Committee of TRB on Emerging Technologies, and to join the ASCE Committee on Digital Project Delivery
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description 2014: Presentation "BIM and Big Data" Data in Construction - A G4C Constructing Excellence event, University of Westminster, London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Young professionals organized event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSXjPzkER8A
 
Description 2014: Presentation "Digital Asset Information: Managing Data from Delivery into Operations" Great Railway Debate: How Britain's railways can meet the needs of the 21st century, University of Reading; 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact on the panel with Terry Morgan, Chairman of Crossrail; Rob Avery, Construction Planner for HS2 and Paul Newman, Network Rail
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description 2014: Showcasing Mobile Visualization Environment (3D-MOVE) at the Crossrail Young Professionals conference, Westminster, London. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A show-case event for young professionals working with Crossrail
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description 2015: Institution of Civil Engineers Webinar "Managing change in the delivery of complex projects: configuration management, asset information and 'big data'" part of a series by the Infrastructure UK Client Working Group Collaborative Project Teams Programme. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This described our research in collaboration with the infrastructure UK client working group, disseminating findings to practicing engineers through IUK and ICE
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.ice.org.uk/eventarchive/managing-change-in-complex-projects
 
Description Research placements for students 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact 1. Digital Model Interaction: Towards a virtual reality toolbox for BIM data interaction - EPSRC Vacation Bursary £2,800, 10 weeks, 2014, principal investigator, co-investigators, Max Parfitt and Dragana Nikolic [internal].
2. Visualising digital models; Towards a BIM repository for research and innovation - EPSRC Vacation Bursary £2,800, 10 weeks, 2013, principal investigator [internal].
3. Immersive visualisation of building information models - Undergraduate Research Opportunity (UROP) £1,250, 6 weeks, 2013, principal investigator [internal].
4. Using laser scanning for data capture and Building Information Modelling - EPSRC Vacation Bursary £2,800, 10 weeks, 2012, principal investigator [internal].
5. Mobile technologies and augmented reality on the UK construction site - EPSRC Vacation Bursary £2,800, 10 weeks, 2010, principal investigator [internal].
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2012,2013,2014