• Issue 37

  • Jun 2018

The Source


Aerial Surveys and 3D Ground Modelling – Is this the start of the integrated design revolution?

The application of aerial drone surveys and the integration with 3D subsurface ground modelling can produce rapid, accurate, visual representations of topographic and subsurface ground conditions.  Model outputs convey data more easily to stakeholders and development designers and reduce uncertainty and have the potential to increase development value as a result.

The use of aerial survey techniques to provide visual imagery quickly across large site areas, allied to the use of advanced photogrammetry to deliver accurate topographic terrain mapping which can be used for design, has the potential to provide cost-effective alternatives to traditional surveying methods.

The evolution of digital terrain information combined with site specific geological data derived from intrusive ground investigation is leading to ever more impressive creations of scaled, rotatable 3D sub-surface ground models.  These can be interrogated to assess and present features of concern utilising the skill and interpretation of experienced professional geologists and geotechnical/geo-environmental specialists.

The combination of both delivers an interactive 3D visual representation of the surface terrain and ground conditions beneath the proposed development area which can be used within a Building Information Modelling (BIM) workflow for engineering design and visualisation.

Stunning imagery for marketing use and to present intended development-based design schematics can be demonstrated to all involved in the development, planning, marketing and sales processes and represents a potentially significant step up from traditional consultation submissions.   The 3D model representation can incorporate the digital design input from across the differing architectural and engineering disciplines and enables potential sellers, purchasers, regulators and stakeholders to visualise the development concept in its entirety from the ground right up to the final plot construction.

The presentation of the data in a visual form presents a simple and improved means of conveying complex technical data and a consistent and effective mechanism for understanding and communicating key in-ground issues.  Considerable time could be saved and decision making improved as a result, minimising unnecessary overspends and reducing uncertainty at the cost planning stage which ultimately negatively impacts development value.

Combined terrain and sub-surface ground modelling within a BIM workflow is intended to allow multidisciplinary designs to be considered within the same co-ordinate system, ensuring simplified above and below ground design compilation and checking.  The immediate consideration of the impact of design changes which might be influenced by the topographic and sub-surface ground conditions across the design team could also be of significant benefit. Expedient re-calculation of cut and fill volumes may also facilitate a greater span of options to be considered for improved and more cost-effective design evaluation.

Is this the start of the integrated design revolution? Let’s consider: The process has the potential to enable faster understanding of complex issues by more people within the design team to enable better decision making, thus deliver more consistent cost planning and cost-effective design.  Visual inspection of the model by non-specialist parties including landowners, funders and purchasers further reduces uncertainty and the sum of these impacts can assist in delivering/supporting higher land values.

Therefore, in our opinion “Absolutely yes, so long live the revolution!”

Michael Nicholas 

Managing Director