Semantics-Based Design: Can Ontologies Help in a Preliminary Design Phase?

By Pieter Pauwels, Ruben Verstraeten, Ronald De Meyer and Jan Van Campenhout.

Published by The Design Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In today’s architecture, engineering and construction industry, there has been a vast evolution in the usage of information and communication technology (ICT) for the description and management of construction and/or architectural design projects. During the past years this led to the elaboration of the building information modelling (BIM) technique, which makes it possible to describe building information directly linked to the corresponding elements of the building. One of the major advantages in this BIM approach is the possibility to use this building information for calculation, simulation and analysis in related, more dedicated ICT applications (i.e. energy performance simulation, cost calculation, construction planning, etc.). This influence of ICT is mainly concentrated in the final construction-related design phase and prevails less in the first, preliminary design phase. However, a lot of advantages could be emerging when ICT techniques would be used in the first design stage as well. Therefore, this article proposes the development of an approach similar to BIM, namely an architectural information modelling (AIM) approach, which describes more theoretical, historical and design-related building knowledge instead of the explicit and components-based descriptions inside BIM. This will result in a new, conceptual, integrated framework for architectural information modelling. In this framework, it will be possible to start and elaborate an architectural design project in a preliminary design phase, using conceptual and more abstract terms (e.g. taxonomy, typology, theory, etc.) to build up a central architectural information model. Several possible advantages of this AIM approach for application in architectural design practice and in building documentation for virtual heritage application will be elaborated during further research.

Keywords: Building Information Modelling, Architectural Design, Architectural Information Modelling, Ontologies, Virtual Heritage, Semantics

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 3, Issue 5, pp.263-276. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.420MB).

Pieter Pauwels

PhD Student, Department of Architecture and Urban Planning, Department of Electronics and Information Systems, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

Ir.-Arch. Pieter Pauwels has a Masters' Degree in Engineering - Architecture. He is currently working at Ghent University on a PhD research for the FWO Research Foundation - Flanders. His main interests lie in the research for architectural information modelling, architectural design, semantics and ontologies, and virtual heritage.

Ruben Verstraeten

Department of Architecture and Urban Planning, Department of Electronics and Information Systems, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

Ir.-Arch. Ruben Verstraeten is born in 1972 in Ghent, Belgium. He is an architectural engineer and Graduate Teaching Assistant at Ghent and Hasselt University. His main interests lie in teaching and research in the field of architectural design, computer aided architectural design and architectural information modelling.

Prof. Ronald De Meyer

Department of Architecture and Urban Planning, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

Prof. Dr. Ronald De Meyer was born in 1955 in Antwerp, Belgium. He is an architect and PhD. Senior Lecturer at Ghent and Hasselt University. His main interests lie in education and research in the field of architectural design, construction history and architectural information modelling.

Prof. Jan Van Campenhout

Department of Electronics and Information Systems, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

Prof. Dr. Ir. Jan M. Van Campenhout was born in Vilvoorde, Belgium, on August 9, 1949. He received a Degree in Electro-Mechanical Engineering from the University of Gent, in 1972; and the MSEE and PhD Degrees from Stanford University, in 1975 and 1978, respectively. He is currently the Head of Department of the Electronics and Information Systems Department (ELIS) of the Faculty of Engineering, and serves on the board of Directors of Ghent University. He teaches courses in digital design, and his research interests include the study and implementation of various forms of parallelism in information processing systems, currently focused upon the modelling and design of short-range parallel optical interconnects from a systems perspective.

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