Physical or Virtual? : Effectiveness of Virtual Mockups of Building Envelope Systems
Within the building design to construction process, mockups of some form will be used and the selection of mockup types will depend on factors of Owner’s requirements and risk adversity, project budget, schedule, and confidence in the building envelope systems. This paper will refer to mockups as representative sections of building envelope systems. The building envelope is often the portion of a building that undergoes the most number of mockups and/or testing throughout the design and construction process. In today’s practice, building envelope mockups typically refer to physical mockups, which are physical replicas of some portion of the building design. However there are technological capabilities present with the given advanced software tools to create its virtual version – virtual mockups – as well as ongoing research.
The building envelope poses many design decisions as the design progresses. The effective conversion methods of its design to fabrication and subsequently installation, is ever pressing as the building industry strives for efficient building practices and building designs. The versatility and powerful digital design tools (such as CAD, CAE, CAM, mechanical production and simulation tools2) available today allow for more flexibility in the design itself. In some cases it leads to custom building envelope systems, but does not necessarily play a big factor on how mockups are to be used throughout the design process. The reason being mainly the disjointed process in current practices in which skin system fabricators and installers are not able to match up to the level of digital visualization competency as the design team utilizing building information modeling (BIM)