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UK's first 'virtual' construction training centre to open in September

Makemedia, a 3D visualisation company, has created a ‘virtual building site’ for the UK’s first construction training simulator.

A ‘virtual building site’ has been created for the UK’s first construction training simulator set to open in Coventry, this September.

A range of virtual reality environments have been commissioned for the ACT-UK Simulation Centre, a £8.7 million state-of-the-art training centre for construction managers.

The virtual models, designed by 3D virtualisation company Makemedia, recreate two actual construction developments – a housing estate in Coventry and a high-rise building in Birmingham.

Trainees will work in actual construction site offices in the simulator hall and will have to deal with realistic site management situations with site personnel, colleagues, and members of the public played by actors.

The 3D environments will be projected on the centre’s 180˚ 12m-long panoramic screen. Trainees will use a joystick to ‘fly’ through the virtual building site, go inside properties under construction and inspect building work in detail – right down to viewing individual nuts and bolts.

Over 10,000 reference photographs taken during the construction of these two projects were used in creating the virtual sites along with the architects’ AutoCAD drawings. This was to ensure that the 3D models are produced to the exact specifications of the original schemes.

Makemedia’s director of 3D services Nick Wood said: “For this project, the challenge has been to recreate the two construction projects in exact detail at particular points during the build process. This has involved providing fully immersive environments which show the buildings and the construction site at different stages, creating a total of 700 detailed 3D models.”

The UK centre – which is backed by the Chartered Institute of Building and leading construction companies – is only the second of its kind in the world.

It is being developed by the same team which opened the world’s first construction virtual reality training centre, the Building Management Simulation Centre at Leeuwarden in the Netherlands 10 years ago.