Virtual Reality Allows Users to Walk Inside the Hospital of the Future

​In order to create a more transparent construction process for contractors as well as the hospital's future staff, New North Zealand Hospital in the Capital Region of Denmark is employing virtual reality technology

Functionality and healing go hand in hand when it comes to designing and building the upcoming super hospital in Denmark.

That is why the project organisation behind the New North Zealand Hospital chooses to invest in a VR studio. This will give the project's many stakeholders the opportunity to walk inside the future hospital and test flows, wayfinding and specific work procedures, well before the first sod has even been turned (construction is expected to begin in 2018).

New North Zealand Hospital - designed by Herzog & de Meuron and Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects - will set new standards in healthcare design and healthcare delivery. The hospital is based on social, economic and environmental sustainability.

We know that starting early increases the chance of mitigating potential construction errors - errors that can end up becoming costly.

"Our ambition is to provide New North Zealand Hospital with a building that facilitates the active exchange between the staff, patients and visitors of the future hospital. Virtual Reality allows this same spirit of communication to resolve the complex planning issues that are key to this project's success," says Jason Frantzen, Partner in Charge, Herzog & de Meuron"

Important input from staff

Virtual reality is a golden opportunity to get a close-up 'feel' of the hospital and obtain feedback from hospital staff at an early stage and thereby enhancing co-ownership and enthusiasm in relation to the new hospital.

"When it comes to complex construction projects such as the coming hospital in North Zealand, VR makes a lot of sense. It is an excellent communication tool as it opens up the project on a 1:1 level. We can never provide guarantees in construction, but by using VR we increase our chances of avoiding costly errors. As the awarding authority, we can also help prepare contractors to undertake construction projects for us," says Sune From, Project Director, New North Zealand Hospital.

The Danish architects on the project, Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects, also find the new technology exciting. Especially when combined with physical mock-ups.

VR - for better construction

Hospital buildings must typically accommodate many different functions and requirements and are among the most complex construction projects in the world. For this reason super hospitals are developed, designed and constructed as so-called BIM (Building Information Modelling) projects.

A VR studio experience is essentially like a 3D cinema, where users can optimise processes and plans within a building as well as in relation to the construction work on a 1:1 scale. This means that the project's architects in Basel and Copenhagen can run real-time digital development sessions and user participation processes with partners and users located in North Zealand.

"In addition to the VR studio, we have plans to build small segments on a 1:1 scale - so-called mock-ups - of the future hospital. These will allow us to work with architectural choices such as selection of materials, design in relation to daylight and technical details, but in the real world,"says Søren Daugbjerg, CEO at Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects.

"Hospital projects are very demanding when it comes to knowledge sharing, coordination and quality control between the many parties involved. The VR studio is a value-creating tool that enhances understanding of the project among the relevant advisors, authorities and health professionals - while also allowing errors to be discovered and corrected before the actual construction work or subsequent operation of the building commences," says CEO Jonas N. Salih from Bim Equity who develop the technology and software.