Pushing the boundaries of BIM


How a giant of a project is changing the business of building design

ProjectOVE brings building information modelling (BIM) technology to life, using virtual design tools to create a fully functioning building that replicates the human body.

The project was the brainchild of Andrew Duncan, who leads Arup’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) engineering team, and Casey Rutland, BIM specialist and Associate Director at Arup Associates. Their team worked around the clock for seven weeks to make ProjectOVE a reality.

What started as an internal research and development project became a tool for the whole industry to learn from – the most exciting development yet in BIM technology.

Virtually human: Creating ProjectOVE

Have you ever thought that the ducts and pipes of a building are a lot like the veins and nerves of a human body? This innocent observation sparked an idea that has grown into one of the industry’s most talked about innovations: ProjectOVE.

Our team used BIM to design a 170m tall, 35-storey building in the shape of a real human body, replicating its inner workings as accurately as possible.

What developed over the following weeks has changed the process of building engineering forever.

ProjectOVE: Human body systems

The team wanted to create a multidisciplinary model comprising architecture, structure and MEP, correlating as closely as possible to the human anatomy. They replicated five major human body systems:

  • Respiratory: mechanical ductwork
  • Circulatory: mechanical pipework
  • Nervous: electrical
  • Skeletal: structure
  • Intergumentary: architecture

The initial model took just seven weeks to complete and is very much a work in progress. A future ProjectOVE 2.0 would consider:

  • Altering the position of the structure to offer more versatility
  • Incorporate the digestive system with an energy centre
  • Include the thermoregulatory system through public health (including fire sprinklers)
  • Add a transport hub and much more

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