The Nottingham Centre for Industrial and Medical Informatics has one of the first 3D CAD systems in the country

archive bim

Get real

While BIM is fast becoming a standard of the industry, in 1997 the prospect of being able to explore a digital model of a prospective building was a new and exciting idea. On 4 April 1997, Building writer James Macneil headed to the Nottingham Centre for Industrial and Medical Informatics - a science park fitted with “state-of-the-art, high-powered 3D computer design systems”. The centre was one of the first in the country with technology capable of projecting 3D CAD models onto a curved floor-to-ceiling screen, and while these virtual reality systems had been developed with the medical profession in mind, the construction sector was keen to exploit its capabilities.

Macneil wrote: “This facility is not the first of its type in the country. A similar centre at the Cambridge-based CadCentre opened a year ago, and London is set to follow suit soon. These centres mark a trend towards using virtual reality as a collaborative working tool. Early images of virtual reality required wraparound headsets. For the construction industry, this vision of offices full of Robocop lookalikes has not materialised; one hindrance being that the technology is not wholly satisfactory.”