SPEAKER INTERVIEW: DOUGLAS SUM

60 seconds with Douglas Sum, Associate - Facade Services Group Leader, Aurecon

Douglas Sum will be speaking at Windows, Doors and Facades Event next September. He shared with us some insight on the top trends in the facades industry. He is the Associate - Facade Services Group Leader at Aurecon and will be talking on Advanced Facade Design Technology – How to Deliver a Smart Facade Design at the Middle East Facades Summit.

How does technology influence facade design today?

Clients have embraced technology in a big way. Their expectations have risen and designers, engineers, and material suppliers have to collaborate even more closely to bring their visions to life.
For example, we’ve seen a sharp rise in demand for complex façade geometry. Clients are asking for more intricate and unconventional designs, instead of the traditional straight lines and squares. This is where digital technology comes in use for modeling and analysis.
However, because technology allows us to deliver these quality designs quickly, our projects have shorter lead times than before. So digital applications is the way to go for more cost-effective solutions in façade design.

 How is Virtual Reality changing the Façade Industry?

I believe that while virtual reality will drastically change the façade industry, this process is still in its infant stages. Because there is a lot of advantages to VR/AR applications, I believe we can do more to champion its widespread adoption.
For example, Aurecon is employing Virtual Visual Mock-Up (VVMU) - a virtual reality tool to build 1:1 mockups in a completely digital environment. We render these environments to look almost life-like, and clients don’t just explore the design from outside, but from within the building itself! Because of this, they have a more accurate depiction of the final design and the user experience they wish to create – before the start of fabrication and construction. Furthermore, any changes can be made almost instantly. Modelling that used to take months can now be done by Aurecon in a week – saving them time and costs.

 What is the change that BIM brings to Façade Design?

BIM is a revolutionary step for façade design. BIM documents can not only contain enormous amounts of information, but sharing this data and coordinating it across departments is made much more efficient. BIM models also provide superior visualization of projects and can even be converted into fabrication data. From concept, to design to fabrication, BIM has streamlined and simplified the entire process.
To put it into perspective: 20 years ago, people were using pens and papers. 10 years ago, people were using CAD. Now, BIM represents the industry’s next stage of delivering façade design.

 According to you, what are today’s top 3 trends in the facades industry?

1. Today’s concept of a traditionally beautiful façade will move beyond just being about “big glass”, “transparent” and “open”. Façades will be designed to stir spirits, to evoke emotions like comfort, friendliness and warmth. New, beautiful façades will be about celebrating life.
2. Static façades are fast becoming a thing of the past. A modern façade should be a dynamic one, adapting to its environment as well as its design purpose.
3. Generative Design, where software automates and simplifies the design process, will take a more central role in the industry. It is important engineers quickly learn to master this technology.

Why are you participating at the Windows, Doors & Facades Event and what can visitors expect to learn at your session?

I would like to show how “digital innovation” isn’t just a vague term for the façade industry’s future; it’s happening here and now. It’s essential to the industry and I’d like to show how Aurecon are already leading the charge and using cutting-edge technology to deliver our designs to clients, monitor construction activities, as well as maintain façades throughout a building’s entire lifecycle.
Visitors will learn how to stay abreast of changes, and how they can use new technology to their advantage. They will not only learn how to remain competitive in the fast evolving industry, but also best practices defined by Aurecon through real case studies.

 About Douglas Sam -

Douglas has more than 15 years of global façade engineering consultant and contractor experience. He has undertaken various world-class projects globally and particularly interested in super-tall towers, such as Burj Khalifa and the most recent Dubai Creek Harbour Tower. His recent interest is using the advanced technologies to ‘redefine’ façade engineering practice.