October 14, 2008

Concrete Innovation With Design Visualisation

By Denis Branthonne

THE ADVENT OF TECHNOLOGY and digital lifestyles, increased globalisation, a boom in worldwide infrastructure and the impact on climate change and the environment are shaping the need for capacity and resources to accommodate rapid population growth, urbanisation and industrialisation.

Taking the architecture, engineering and construction sector as an example, a report released by BCI Asia in January 2008 highlights new building projects in Malaysia are expected to develop strongly in 2008. Statistics have shown that the development size of hotels and industrial projects is expected to boom over 50% by end of this year. On the other hand, the recreational projects are set to increase by a whopping 137%.

Such growth fueled by profound global trends has raised the stakes for success, requiring the nation to innovate in order to remain competitive and profitable. Today, design plays a fundamental role in driving successful innovation in many parts of the world, unlike the past when it was being seen as merely an aesthetic value- add. The evolution of the design field, which unleashes the integration of visualisation and intelligence into the design process, amplifies the function of design as a strategic tool for driving and delivering concrete innovation.


Today, Malaysia is preparing itself to embrace the innovation economy through several Government initiatives to enhance national competitiveness in the global economy and help businesses to get ahead in the market. The Ninth Malaysia Plan fosters technology- and innovation-led strategies to boost overall industries growth. In addition, the 11th International Advisory Panel (IAP) also reiterates innovation as the key factor in driving transformation.

Typically, innovation involves generating and acting on creative ideas to make a tangible difference. However, many do not realise that most attempts at innovation have not been terribly successful. Lacking the right expertise and resources aside, often time there is a disconnection between the conceptual idea and the reality. Employing redundant and inefficient processes also leads to the mismatch.

Over the years, state-of-the-art 3D technologies have been addressing these issues by allowing modern designers visualise, stimulate and analyse the real-world performance of their ideas early in the design process. It creates room for the flexibility they need to optimise and improve designs before execution. This empowers organisations to save time and money, maintain quality and foster innovation.

3D is changing the way design is done across many industries. Digital models, rather than physical prototypes, serve a more valuable function by representing a project in all its complexity. 3D modeling technologies help companies and decision makers understand their designs as if they are real.

Advancing into this frontier of computer-aided design (CAD), design visualisation is one of the key components of next generation tools to help companies develop, see and experience innovative ideas. Design visualisation has long been used to create beautiful, full-blown multimedia presentations at the end-of-design process. The rendering and graphic techniques at the heart of design visualisation tools also play a significant role in developing computer-games and films.

Today, however, it is no longer simply a presentation or animation tool. Design visualisation can be integrated into the entire lifecycle of product and structural design - from conceptualisation to execution.


To experience design is to have a holistic view and understanding of the idea. The near-real life view and simulation enabled by visualisation augments deeper understanding of the context of the project, before it is real. What is meant by this?

Well, the power of design visualisation lies in the way it helps organisations make visually-informed decisions, as well as facilitating effective and efficient problem-solving. Through design visualisation, key business decision makers, who do not necessarily comprehend the designer's perspective, can virtually see the end- result of a specific project and how it works. After all, business owners must know and be able to justify exactly what they are investing in.

Before the era of design visualisation, a new physical prototype had to be created as the design evolved. In fact, one of the key issues with architecture is the cost of working on a wrong idea for too long.

Design visualisation can uncover areas that do not work or fit- in well with the environment or variables. It helps designers to identify and fix errors, evaluate alternatives, make early improvements and find new ideas faster - all in a cost-effective fashion with less environmental impact than ever before.

Ultimately, design visualisation minimises flaws and allows quick and timely delivery of the desired product that sharpens competitive edge. Today, design visualisation can be tightly integrated with building information modeling tools to provide an interactive and collaborative experience. This makes design solutions much more profound to business impact and productivity gain.

An architecture firm in Atlanta, U.S. NCG Architects confirmed saving an astounding 20% of construction document time and increased profitability by 15%, attributed to its adaptability to their clients' needs, empowered by building design solutions. Closer to home, such solutions have also enable local architect firm Arkitek Binarjaya to achieve continuous improvements and efficiencies within the entire design process. Today, the firm is able to offer customers greater gains in time and flexibility, while allowing them to maintain profitability.

Today, there is a growing need for high-quality visualisation tools which can be integrated into workflows for visual communication and creative design making. Design knowledge and skills are a crucial, top-of- the-agenda issue for governments and educators in Asia, who all want to move their economies towards key development goals. Perhaps, it is time for Malaysian companies to view and adopt design in a more strategic manner to drive innovation, and create things that were not possible a few years ago, that is, experiencing innovation in a concrete perspective.

Denis Branthonne

Regional Director, Autodesk ASEAN

(c) 2008 Malaysian Business. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.