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Wessex Water has been working on the reconstruction of Durleigh Water Centre. The £50m project is its first to be delivered to BIM Level 2 - and the use of an Igloo Shared VR cylinder has been key.

It’s a highly complex, technically challenging project. BIM Level 2 means it uses collaborative 3D models with embedded digital versions of all project and asset information, documentation and data. This is partly due to the complexity of the site, which has many existing underground services to be modelled. The plant also provides drinking water for 40,000 people in Somerset, so has to be of the highest quality possible.

Also, as a privatised sector, the water industry has not needed to comply with the government mandate that all public projects need to be delivered to BIM Level 2 as a minimum requirement. And, traditionally, many engineers have wanted to work with paper drawings.

Wessex Water worked with global engineering firm AECOM to form a comprehensive digital engineering strategy. AECOM recognised the potential of an immersive, collaborative environment, and suggested the use of an Igloo Shared VR cylinder.

The 3D BIM model created by AECOM contained data from ground-penetrating radar, drone surveys, and laser scans. Teams of up to 12 people could stand within the Igloo 6.5-metre cylinder and walk around the virtual model of the site. Design reviews carried out from within the Igloo helped with design coordination, stakeholder buy-in and plant operability reviews.

While this story showcases the applications of VR in the AEC industry, it also demonstrates the unique advantages of Shared VR. Wessex Water turned down VR headsets for the project, feeling it was so important to maintain eye contact and gauge reactions. Shared VR made it possible to have the best of both worlds by taking the benefits of VR and sharing it across entire teams.

For the full deep-dive on how Shared VR has been used in the project, you can download the case study.

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