From the very beginning, Staticus Care has been about bringing together experts from the façade industry and academia to share their expertise and together create breakthrough innovations that make a real impact on sustainability.
Digital twins play a critical role in the hybrid unitized façades being developed in the project titled: “Developing a more environmentally friendly automated façade system that is integrated into the building’s control systems”. And members of our project partner, the Center for Smart Cities and Infrastructure (CSCI), are bringing their passion and expertise in this field. We caught up with Dr Darius Pupeikis, Dr Vytautas Bocullo, Dr Ignacio Vilallon Fornes and Justas Kardoka from the centre to discuss why they got involved in this project, what they hope to achieve from it, and what they bring to the table.
An opportunity to apply state-of-the-art digitalisation technologies
The Centre for Smart Cities and Infrastructure (CSCI) is a department within the Kaunas University of Technology Faculty of Civil Engineering and Architecture (KTU FCEA). And it aims to establish and maintain an interdisciplinary community focused on smart cities and infrastructure.
One of the centre’s main focuses is digitalisation technologies. And, as Dr Vytautas Bocullo explains, being involved in this project provides an excellent opportunity to look at how some of the latest technologies in this field can be applied.
“This project gives us an opportunity to consider the application of state-of-the-art digitalisation technologies for specific use cases related to building façades,” Vytautas explains. “These technologies include photogrammetry, lidar, Building Information Modelling (BIM) and IoT. And our team is providing a lot of input in this area, as we have extensive experience in built environment activities.”
Involvement in this project also fits well with the centre’s goal of connecting business and academia. “The connection between researchers and industry has always been a goal for KTU,” Dr Darius Pupeikis points out. “We are constantly looking for new fields to expand this type of cooperation, and we believe this project will benefit both KTU and Staticus.”
Developing digital twins to enable predictive maintenance
During the project, the CSCI team is heavily involved in the development of digital twins for façades.
“We have already worked on digital twin concepts for buildings, and it is exciting to see that the construction industry is interested in going digital,” says Vytautas.
“We have plans with this project to make a building digital twin. This is an as-built model that incorporates data from sensors on temperature, humidity and more. Digital twins usually combine different types of data, including 3D models and static and dynamic data provided by IoT sensors.”
Vytautas believes there is a very practical valuable use case for digital twins in the case of façades. “Digital twins provide a clear visual representation of a building’s geometry. And with the incorporation of data from sensors, they can show the ongoing processes in a user-friendly manner. Usually building managers are not building physicists, so providing user-friendly data that is easy to interpret is important.”
“Digital twins are strong tools for visualisation and monitoring. In the case of building façades, digital twins can help a lot with maintenance. They can help to monitor the façade and predict possible malfunctions, while the smart system that controls the façade can significantly improve the indoor environment.”
A well-defined process for solving complex technical challenges
Creating an effective digital twin for a building façade is far from easy, as Justas Kardoka explains. “It has always been challenging to combine static and dynamic data together with a 3D model. That is because these elements have different natures.”
To address this challenge, the team has put together a clear, step-by-step approach.
First, they need to recreate the geometry of the building. To do this, the as- built model of the building is created using UAV photogrammetry.
Then a working sensor system must be installed into the façade units, and the team needs to ensure a constant connection between the sensors and the servers.
Finally, everything has to be combined into a single platform, such as iTwin or OpenCitiesPlanner.
“The end result is a working system that can be used for maintenance, planning future extensions, or publishing,” says Dr Ignacio Vilallon Fornes. “In the end, our goal here is to find the most efficient way to build digital twins which are capable of providing complex data in a user-friendly way so non-professionals can understand.”
“We truly believe that we have only scratched the surface here. During the implementation of this project we will learn more about what can be achieved by going digital.”
Meet the CSCI team members involved
Four experts from the CSCI team are contributing to this development of façade digital twins.
Firstly, there is Dr Darius Pupeikis, who is Head of the CSCI. He is playing a coordinating role in the project, offering a strategic overview of digital twins in the context of smart cities. Darius is a civil engineer who specialises in BIM, building data science, and energy performance.
Darius is joined by Dr Vytautas Bocullo, who is coordinating activities related to reality capturing and analysis of digital representation technologies of the façade. Vytautas is a civil engineer with a specialisation in digital twins, reality-capturing technologies (photogrammetry, lidar) and construction materials.
Justas Kardoka is the third member of the team. Justas’ background is in information technologies and, as a developer, he is mainly be involved in activities related to the integration of IoT and digital geometrical representation data sources and formats.
Completing the CSCI team is Dr Ignacio Vilallon Fornes, who is working on the digitalisation of the façades’ structures and main components. As structural engineer, Ignacio helps the CSCI team with BIM modelling, and the building physics and structures for façades.
About the Centre for Smart Cities and Infrastructure
The Centre for Smart Cities and Infrastructure (CSCI) is a department within the Kaunas University of Technology Faculty of Civil Engineering and Architecture (KTU FCEA). Its work entails building an interdisciplinary community of teachers-researchers, students, alumni, companies, municipalities, and science partners focused on smart cities. In this capacity, it has participated in numerous projects under the EU Horizon Programme, including Next generation Dynamic Digital EPCs for Enhanced Quality and User Awareness (D^2EPC); PRECEPT: A novel decentralized edge-enabled PREsCriptivE and ProacTive framework for increased energy efficiency and well-being in residential buildings, and Development of Utilities Management Platform for the case of Quarantine and Lockdown – eUMaP. Its Kaunas Digital Twin project has been nominated for the global conference Year in Infrastructure 2022.
The project “Developing a more environmentally friendly automated façade system that is integrated into the building’s control systems” is funded by the 2014-2021 Norwegian Financial Mechanism Program “Business Development, Innovation and SMEs”.
The project “Developing a more environmentally friendly automated façade system that is integrated into the building’s control systems” is funded by the 2014-2021 Norwegian Financial Mechanism Program “Business Development, Innovation and SMEs” and EEA and Norway Grants.