Project OVE: Arup’s 170-meter-tall BIM man

Project OVE, a virtual replication of the human anatomy, exemplifies the potential of Building Information Modeling.  What originally started as an internal project by Arup, known for its creative approach to building environments such as railway networks or gravity defying sky-scrapers, has now evolved into something far greater. Arup wanted to capture best practice examples of Building Information Modeling’s (BIM’s) benefits to construction projects, and involved enthusiastic professionals from UK’s BIM community to push the industry forward.

As a result, OVE was born. Standing 170 meters tall on his full steel skeleton, OVE breathes, sweats, gets hungry and has a heart and brain. OVE is the embodiment of implementing BIM to construction projects with elaborate geometries, unorthodox design challenges and unique aesthetics.

For modeling the highly complex steel structure that represents OVE’s full structural skeleton, Arup chose Tekla as they do with their construction projects.

The Hip Bone connects to the Back Bone –Steel Skeleton upholds OVE’s posture

OVE’s character was created with two main principles in mind. Firstly, Arup wanted to keep the geometry as true to human anatomy as practically possible. Secondly, they decided to create the character using BIM software and processes that can be reused in real life projects. OVE became more than a replication of the human body:  He is equipped with data rich MEP systems representing the respiratory and circulatory systems, while the architectural and structural outputs give OVE his dashing looks.

To protect his major organs and hold his proud upright 170 meter posture, OVE was given a structural steel skeleton completed with a sturdy pair of legs, a waist and a spine.  According to Jonathan Lock, BIM Manager in Arup, the project team was looking for a solution that could turn the generic model into a BIM fit for fabrication purposes in a cost and time efficient manner. As a result they turned to Tekla for transforming OVE’s skeleton into building elements with fabrication level of detail. 

Creating OVE’s skeleton took four people two weeks to complete, all the way from the early conceptual model to the detailed design, whilst simultaneous having a regular day job. The full structural model is a product of design collaboration, interoperability between software packages and ardent devotion to the human form with a pinch of the famous Gherkin in its diagrid.


Watch the webinar: ARUP: Better Buildings with Heart and Soul

The structural design process helped to materialize the following:

  • Streamlined parametric design
  • BIM fit for purpose
  • Design collaboration and interoperability
  • Reduction of drawing output
  • Reduction of errors
  • Reduction of mark up
  • Schedules for connection design & specifications