Summer/Autumn 2018

Thu Sep 20 2018 23:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

Summer/Autumn 2018

Goodness what an action packed summer it has been. So much has been happening it's been hard to know where to start.  In between commencements on a number of new projects the main highlights have been;

Augmented and Virtual Agile Testing
We are in the final discussions to secure the funding Ollio needs to undertake a feasibility test of Agile in Buildings.  In what has been a key part of our strategic planning, we expect to be able to start work soon with our partners DLA Architecture, Playwerks, HippoDigital, PhD researcher James Simpson at East London University and Sheffield's newest tech innovation hub Kollider.  The project will see us take two live case study clients through the Agile in Buildings process.  This will allow the end users of the case study buildings to work with our architects and designers to build working prototypes as co-authors of their new built environments. To facilitate the production of the prototypes we will create a Virtual Reality Sandbox Studio within our new offices at Kollider, Sheffield new tech innovation hub.  The Sandbox Studio complete with the latest in VR AR and MR as well as 3D printing capabilities will allow us to create a state of the art collaboration space where end users and designers can work closely, substituting drawings, specifications for show and tell within an immersive virtual reality environment . The process will allow users, with the hands on help of designers, to create a version of their own building designs and to test them months if not years before they eventually move in.  All being well, we kick off in November for a quick three month proof of concept process.  No doubt we will have plenty to say and write about once the proof of concept process is commenced. 

We are moving to new Offices
Yes, the big news is that we are now ready to move the business to the city centre of Sheffield. We will be taking space temporarily in Kollider's current co-working space on the 5th floor of Barkers Pool House. But it will not be long before Ollio along with the rest of the Kollider start-up businesses move to the digital tech explosion that will be our new offices at Castle House on Commercial Street. The refurbishment of Castle House is already well underway in advance of formal opening in the Spring of 2019. Before then a new street facing cafe and the National Gaming Museum will have opened on their ground and first floor spaces.  Once in, we will be co-located with most of Sheffield's bright minds and businesses operating in gamification, AR, VR, MR, 3D printing and software and app development. The synergies and opportunities for us to expand these technologies in favour of building users will be limitless. Click the Contact Us section of the website for our new address and details of how to get in touch.

We are Award Winners
We were thrilled to win our first award for my paper on Agile in Buildings. The win was made more special by the fact that I got to present it at my alma mater college in Dublin.  This year the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) hosted the Leeds Beckett University inspired SEEDS Conference Awards. It gave DIT the opportunity to showcase their exciting new campus facilities at the old Grangegorman Hospital.  The paper which is an explanation for why Agile in Buildings is so important as a positive disruptive force on how we currently design buildings.  The paper which outlines why it is critical to involve users as customers in the design process, took the best paper prize for "Addressing a Developing Need".  Receiving Ollio's first award from Professor Lloyd Scott was a special honour, one that will hopefully be the first of many as we roll out more research findings in the latter part of this year and early 2019. A copy of the paper titled "Reaching the Building Performance Sweet Spot with Certainty" can be downloaded from here

Conference Season 
The end of summer is usually conference season for many Universities. As a board member of both ASHRAE UK Midlands Chapter and IBPSA - England we had our Region XIV Chapters Regional and BSO18  Conferences  at Loughborough and Cambridge Universities respectively.  Both conferences were a striking success and credit goes to our Chairs and their teams for what turned out to be two exceptional events.  That said, it was noted that both conferences were largely attended by local students, academics and those visiting to present papers.   It's a great shame that we don't get that many practicing professionals to attend as there is so much innovation and fresh perspectives to be gained if only they took the time to engage.  More engagement of practitioners would also help to improve the researchers outcomes, as well as improving the quality of our designs on behalf of our clients. So I would say to all architects and design consultancies, if you really are interested in providing a differentiator from your competition - please get involved.  I can not stress more highly how much value more engagement with your professional institutions and local universities would bring to the everyday quality of what you produce.

Urban Flows Air Quality Update
Our report on the current state of air quality sensors market was issued to our client the University of Sheffield Urban Flows Observatory back in June. The objective of the report was to devise a strategy to undertake air quality monitoring inside buildings across Sheffield on behalf of the Urban Flows Observatory.  In summary we found that there are no low cost sensors capable of indoor air quality sampling in real time with anything approaching the degree of accuracy required for research purposes.  There are are number of low cost real time air quality sensors out there that claim to do so, but so far as we are aware they have yet to be properly and scientifically evaluated with results published by independent researchers in the public domain.  All of this poses questions for the health and wellbeing certification industry, who in my view will be constrained in setting air quality standards that are proven to be drawn from and have their basis founded on good science.  If we can't measure exactly what chemicals are present and in real time it is difficult to suggest that buildings as opposed to say, the morning commute to work, are having most impact on health and wellbeing of workers.  We need better indoor sensors, and it maybe that Urban Flows ability to measure the totality of the pollution load on a city wide basis has the information necessary to improve the on board algorithms of the low cost sensor technologies on a room by room basis. We will continue to follow this avenue of enquiry where we expect to publish a paper later in the year summarising our findings on the Urban Flows project.

Empowering Design
In August we joined users of Cemetery Road Baptists Church's (CRBC) for their session with  The Glass House Architecture's, Empowering Design Practice workshop. This five-year collaborative research project is the largest project in the Design and Communities strand of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded research project. It explores how the direct education of users and operators in design thinking can help empower them to become more informed clients when they comes to upgrading or look after after historic places of worship.  The process also helps to create more open, vibrant and sustainable places that respect and enhance the heritage through improve design outcomes.  Working within this context, the project aims to develop tools, resources and training to support community-led design practice. The project is led by the Open University in partnership with The Glass-House, Historic England, Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Religious Buildings Alliance, and others.  The session facilitated by CEO Sophia de Sousa and Leo Care verified for us just how intuitive design becomes to most members of the public when they are set free. Also how accepting and enthusiastic users become when invited to become involved with design of their community spaces.  A big thank you goes out to Glass House Architecture and Mike Green of the CRCB for allowing me to participate in the workshop. It really helped validate some of my thinking in advance of our own user case study processes. We expect CRBC will become one of the case study clients in Agile for Building demonstration projects mentioned above.

Smart Sheffield
In September we went along to the latest Smart Sheffield session hosted at Arup Sheffield. The topic for the evening focused a number of large-scale (or potentially large scale) systems that are currently in play in Sheffield.  We heard from organisations who are currently collecting and using digital datasets that are being compiled by other third parties such as government and private sector business.  Putting this data into the public domain via open data platforms allows it to be used to create new mobile applications made available for public and other purposes besides the purpose of their main use. We heard from

Ruckus Networks on the new generation of IoT comms that can be built into the city’s public WiFi capability.

SmartWorld Connect return to explain more about their evolving city app store platform.

Living PlanIT’s Urban Operating System.**

Things Network Sheffield & the Sheffield City Hack Series.

People.SHF & mapping the digital challenges presented by Sheffield’s rollout of Universal Credit.

Sheffield’s Social Enterprise Exchange.

A lively exchanged followed where non technical members of the audience felt that the information on Smart Sheffield events was not reaching the ordinary folk on the street in Sheffield.   More engagement could help generate better ideas for apps etc. Also I made a point of caution to developers of these apps; that they need to be in a position to validate the authenticity of the data they are using so that ordinary users understand the difference between  "clean" and "dirty" information being used in the apps.

Think BIM at Doncaster Rail College   
It was great to be back at ThinkBIM this week.  There were three (really four) reasons for attending the latest session for what was a very insightful afternoon. First was the opportunity to visit the fantastic award winning building by architects Bond Bryan Architects and constructor Willmott Dixon. The building has scooped a number of awards this year already, and no doubt there will be one or two more to come. Having seen it in the flesh, its award winning credentials are completely justified and well worth a tour. Second was the always fabulous line-up of speakers that Duncan, Donna and Liz at ThinkBIM manage to pull together.  Of particular interest was Rob Jackson who gave his usual tour de force run through the history of of BIM adoption into what remains a reluctant construction industry for the most part. There are early adopters speeding ahead and gaining the undoubted productivity and information quality gains, but  sadly these are still the vanguard. After a lively discussion it became apparent that the retarding forces are coming from two sources.  First software vendors packages are still making complete integration and authentic transfer of model information difficult. Ask engineers using Revit how they get on when attempting to import an ArchiCad model.  IFC is still not a complete answer. The feeling in the room was that perhaps international standards organisations need to be the ones to develop standard tests and validation of vendors software, all supported by adequately funded research. It's no longer good enough for "passionate" practitioners to be the ones who are faced with this task in the teeth of the immense funding within the vendors organisations who are continually upgrading and changing the goal posts with every new release.

Finally, I was keen to see where the industry has got to in its use of Augmented and Virtually Reality as tools in design and construction. Marianna Kopsida Trimble Product Applications Engineer presented on some of the advanced applications now gaining traction.  From multiple individuals in different locations viewing and interacting in real time with a quarry operation displayed in augmented reality (AR) to Gensler use of Microsoft Hololens to improve and gamify the design process to another application which demonstrated how constructors standing in the concrete shell of a partially complete building can view a virtual installation showing operatives wearing VR enabled DAQRI head gear precisely where the fit out elements should be located without the need to measure or set out.  It all shows how the these visualisation technologies are about to explode into the design studio and construction site. Ollio use of this same technology in the early stage concepts to inform client decision making is arriving just at the right moment in time.

I think you will agree it's been an exciting three months. Watch this space for more developments coming soon.