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NEXT-GENERATION BUILDING INFORMATION MODELING TO SUPPORT EVALUATION OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR IN BUILT ENVIRONMENTS

Final Report Summary - NEXTGENBIM (NEXT-GENERATION BUILDING INFORMATION MODELING TO SUPPORT EVALUATION OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR IN BUILT ENVIRONMENTS)

Current Building Information Models (BIM) that are typically used in design and engineering practices are able to represent the form of a building (shape, materials), but not the building users and their activities. Therefore, they are able to answer questions about the expected physical performance of the proposed building, but not about the behaviour patterns the building will engender in its occupants, once constructed and occupied. It is such people-building behaviours that are the ultimate performance measure of buildings, which distinguish ‘good’ buildings from ‘bad’ ones. Agent-Based Models (ABM), developed separately from BIM, can address the behaviour of individual actors, but the simulated actors tend to exhibit predictable, robot-like behaviour. To successfully simulate life-like interactions between a proposed building and the people who will occupy it, a practical approach is needed that can incorporate a description of actors’ roles and organizational hierarchies, activities involving more than one actor, and adaptability in response to dynamic changes in activity priorities, unplanned events, or non-typical circumstances, such as when an actor is not available to perform a task when expected.

The project developed such a model, termed Event-Based Model (EBM), which is able to represent multi-agent Events. It can answer questions about how the proposed building will be used, how the built form enhances or impedes the activities of its intended users, and other building-people performance issues, such as congestion, fatigue due to long walking distances, wayfinding, and more.

For an initial implementation of the EBM model we used the domain of hospital environments. To that extent, we have performed observations of activities in several in-patient hospital wards and out-patient ophthalmology clinics, recorded the actors, activities, times, and places of their occurrence during typical hospital days.

The EBM was used to develop simulations of proposed in-patient wards and out-patient clinics, in which simulated actors (doctors, nurses, patients, visitors, etc.) perform tasks according to pre-planned schedules (medicine distribution, doctor check, patient visiting, etc.), while dynamically responding to social encounters and environmental conditions. In addition, they respond to un-planned events (e.g. “code blue” when a patient is in cardiac distress), and act accordingly.

To test the model, we have applied the simulation to similar, but different hospital floorplans, to observe changes in actors’ behaviour. Specifically, we compared single-patient room layout to multi-patient room layout, with/without day-rooms in the same hospital, and to two different layouts of an ophthalmology clinic, in different hospitals. The simulation showed that multi-patient rooms cause more visitor traffic in the corridors, compared to single-patient rooms, probably due to the reduced privacy conditions in multi-patient rooms. The different ophthalmology clinics layouts showed how the floorplan impacts nurses, in one case, and doctors, in the other case, due to enhanced corridor traffic which causes more encounters with the medical staff, and can lead to distraction, delays, and possibly errors.

The simulations were presented to the respective hospital administrators, doctors, and nurses, who validated the results and, in turn, asked their architects to make changes in their designs.

The development of an Event-Based Model for simulating building in use will lead to better understanding of the expected performance of buildings, and may yield specific recommendations which will help designers and engineers to improve building performance using simulations that anticipate the complexities of actors’ behaviour.