On 3 May 2022 it was time once again for the Swiss construction and real estate industry to meet at Swissbau, the four-day trade fair in Basel.
Nomoko was also in attendance, where we held a panel discussion on our favorite topic: Digital Twins.
Alongside our CEO Nilson and head of business development Maximilian Gick, four specialists in the real estate industry participated in the lively discussion: Manuel Frey (head of department digital planning at Gruner), Guillaume Chapallaz (architect at Amenti), Manuel Lehner (partner at FPRE) and Jürgen Debusmann (CEO of Inside Reality).
Why Digital Twins are a perfect fit for real estate
Nilson emphasized that Digital Twins are data representations of buildings that go well beyond the scope of 3D or BIM models. What data is needed from which Digital Twin depends strongly on the use case – this is why it's worthwhile aggregating the data into a single platform where users can reuse each Digital Twin over and over for different purposes.
This is also the reason Nomoko launched its Digital Twin platform for real estate, Praedia. FPRE was Praedia's first partner, providing market intelligence to Praedia users through its integrated store. But what convinced FPRE to take this step?
Manuel Lehner explained: "Our motivation is to provide market intelligence to every user exactly where they need it. Our users are very heterogeneous and have diverse use cases. Nomoko offers Praedia – a very open, transparent platform that allows ideas to bloom."
Guillaume Chapallaz agreed that such a platform gives users access to many parameters, such as building regulations, to generate useful insights.
Manuel from Gruner, on the other hand, saw the primary benefit as the accessibility of information over the entire lifecycle of a building, enabling their clients to make more informed decisions.
Finally, Jürgen Debusmann explained that merging data into Digital Twins allows us to create project visualizations at the very beginning rather than the end of a project. This makes the complexities of real estate much easier to understand for all stakeholders involved, which helps accelerate project-related decisions.
Digital Twins as a base for investment decisions
Nilson raised the question of how quickly real estate developers would be able to make investment decisions in the future based on defined return targets.
Guillaume is convinced the trend is moving towards tool-assisted decision making but admitted that no one tool on its own could cover this process sufficiently. What's needed, he says, is the aggregation of data from multiple tools.
Manuel from FPRE is also sure this is the next logical step. Even today, the investment process for real estate could be automated and Digital Twins are perfect for combining the necessary information to make this happen. The challenge though is not to focus exclusively on automation but to ensure there's also coherent human interaction between all the relevant decision makers.
The impact of Digital Twins and automation on real estate industries
In the future when Digital Twins are prevalent, what will happen to the real estate professionals who today perform most of their tasks manually? It's a key question, one that also visibly preoccupies the experts.
Manuel from Gruner, for example, expects a massive change in the real estate occupational landscape with a strong trend towards process automation. This means companies need to constantly question themselves, renew their processes and make sure their employees are always properly qualified. He doesn't see this as a bad thing, but rather a positive development that allows companies to free their employees from manual work and in doing so give them time for more important tasks, such as building renovations.
Jürgen, on the other hand, stressed the importance of not letting people fall by the wayside amid the oncoming automation, as people tend to adapt less quickly than technology. On the flip side, he also sees a need for new skillsets in the future and pointed to the considerable potential in optimizing decision-making processes and framework conditions.
ESG and real estate
ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) factors also came up. Manuel from FPRE believes that sustainability issues are fueling digitalization in the real estate industry. The pressure of modern expectations to be accountable for the sustainability of a property portfolio means that much more data needs to be collected and made available and transparent.
Guillaume said the issue of sustainability has not yet reached architects everywhere. However, it would be his dream to be able to know at the feasibility study phase of a project how much energy a building will consume over the course of its lifetime. This alone could motivate builders to implement more sustainable projects.
Manuel from Gruner does not yet feel there are any clear guidelines around sustainability in the planning phase but is convinced these will come in the next few years.
Jürgen felt that wider public perception needs to change and that what's being done to improve sustainability must become more measurable and transparent. He explained that the industry itself is also challenged in this regard and must help develop uniform standards.
Immersion in the cRoom
The panel discussion was rounded off by a visit to Inside Reality's icRoom, which offers an immersive experience that brings to life the complexity of spatial situations. Or as moderator Chris Henn casually put it, "immersion without VR goggles."
Using icRoom, interdisciplinary teams can understand the spatial dimensions of a project faster and better, improving their decision making. For example, they can experience and compare numerous versions of a real estate project interactively, testing different simulations like solar radiation to find the best solutions.
Curious to know more? Watch the full video of the event here! (in German)