170 virtual meters of brave BIM development: Arup’s Project OVE

There are times when stretching the limits of a technology, say BIM, calls for unconventional projects and brave minds to drive the progress. One such story tells about Arup’s Project OVE, an internal project that evolved into something greater.

Project OVE is a 170-tall virtual replication of the human anatomy that started because Arup wanted to capture best practice examples of BIM benefits for construction projects. The enthusiastic professionals from UK’s BIM community got involved to push the industry forward and generate an appetite for change.

OVE is a namesake of Arup’s founder, Ove Arup, and has a full steel skeleton. He breathes, sweats, gets hungry and has a heart and brain.  OVE’s hypothetical home town is Las Vegas and his size competes with Arup’s high-rise projects such as the Gherkin while the great pyramid of Giza barely touches his shoulder.

As a structure, OVE is a mixture of a commercial and a residential building, with his head hosting the control center and the board room. He is the embodiment of implementing BIM to construction projects with elaborate geometries, unorthodox design challenges and unique aesthetics.

For modeling accurately the highly complex steel structure that represents OVE’s full structural skeleton, Arup chose Tekla. 

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

Arup wanted to keep the geometry as true to human anatomy as practically possible, and at the same time 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 include all this, using software that does not limit the choice of other tools needed in the workflow was necessary.

The team started by laser scanning a human model, an Arup engineer, to create a point cloud and converting it to primary parametric inputs for the diagrid scheme. This was followed by the structural analysis phase, after which Arup moved into creating an accurate, deliverable Building Information Model.

How to stand tall?

The key challenge in creating a static building resembling a human was to establish a balance, which real humans maintain through movement. OVE’s height-to-base dimension ratio is much smaller than is customary in skyscrapers. This meant mapping out how all muscles, bones and ligaments operate in unison and transforming them into building elements.

The full structural model is a product of design collaboration, interoperability of software packages and devotion to the human form and modeling. 

Learn more by watching our webinar with ARUP where we discuss OVE and more:  ARUP: Better Buildings with Heart and Soul


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