Five-sided Barco cave fully immerses architects into building solutions

Duffel, BE - 2018

Just like Barco, aluminium building expert Reynaers Aluminium is committed to innovation and enabling outcomes. To highlight that commitment, it set up an impressive campus packed with high-tech equipment. Next to welcoming visitors to its digitally enabled experience center, the campus also features AVALON – a five-sided, immersive cave complete with Barco laser projectors. Here, architects, contractors, investors, etc. can walk in to experience, discuss and fine-tune building designs.

Barco solution

  • 24 laser projectors
  • 1 F35 projector

Why Barco?

  • High resolution, bright images
  • High contrast
  • Vivid colors

Visualize and discuss 3D models
“Over the past five to ten years, 3D software has become more powerful and user-friendly,” explains Nina Timmermans, International Business Analyst. “It is, however, difficult to visualize large and complex 3D models on flat screens, especially for people who are not familiar with CAD.” Enter the idea of a cave where architects can step in and view, evaluate and change almost any type of 3D-model in a virtual reality environment.

“They can virtually integrate our products into their concepts, discover conflicts and modify details, in close cooperation with colleagues, partners or customers,” adds Erik Rasker, CTO. "In this way, the cave facilitates the decision-making process and helps stakeholders detect design mistakes, which are often very expensive to solve at a later phase in the building process.”

Full immersion is key

For this concept to work, full immersion was key. That is why Reynaers absolutely wanted a five-sided cave, including ceiling projection. To explore the ideal solution, they talked to different integrators and visited similar cave set-ups at Volvo, Aachen University and Skanska. An architect joined them to highlight what’s important from his point of view, too.

Stefan Vandervelden, Research Projects Responsible: “Architects are masters of detail, so we knew the cave had to ensure high-resolution, bright images, as well as high contrast and vivid colors. Hence our choice for Barco’s laser projection, which was a première: never before had Barco integrated its laser projectors in a cave set-up.” On top of that, Reynaers understood that size matters too. So, the cave is 4.8 x 3.3 x 2.5 m and allows up to four people to study the design at the same time.

Expertise and flexibility
Barco was the ideal partner. “Barco is a renowned visualization company, not in the least for VR caves, making it an obvious choice,” Stefan continues. “We were impressed with their technical knowledge, pragmatic approach and flexibility.” Swedish company Nanco helped Reynaers define the right hardware and software during the preparation phase and installed the devices and software.

Damien Conroy, Visualization and VR expert at Reynaers, praises the collaboration of both partners: “It was a pretty complex system to set up, but they pushed the envelope to deliver on every promise. Today, I’m pleasantly surprised to see how well the system deals with different file types and kinds of 3D models.”

The power of collaboration
The Reynaers cave is probably the first VR cave of this scale to be used for architectural applications. Users, including the own Reynaers R&D team – who use it for digital prototyping – all love it – it’s even fully booked for the months to come. Everyone praises the added value it brings to the sector.

Erik: “For us, the collaborative aspect and the shared experience that the VR cave delivers is the biggest added value. This is a great way for Reynaers to strengthen its partnerships with architects, investors and contractors. We’ve taken visualization to the next level – an achievement we’re very proud of.”

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With laser projection the cave ensures high-resolution, bright images, high contrast and vivid colors.

Stefan Vandervelden

Research Projects Responsible at Reynaers Aluminium

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