The house that technology built
WA university student project raises awareness of ‘universal accommodation’ mindset
Perth, August 2019 – Students from Curtin University’s School of Design and the Built Environment, led by Dr Jane Matthews, have put innovative new Australian software through its paces to design an accessible residential unit that may be built in Perth.
The project has been initiated and managed by JLL Project and Development Services and supported by architectural firm Studio Halton and software developer PropIntel.
The house has been designed for Boundary Road, Victoria Park, on a site owned by the Town of Victoria Park.
The fourth-year construction and project management students used the Studio Halton plans for the unit to examine how emerging digital technologies can improve design-to-construction workflows in the WA building industry.
Ryan D’Arcy, state manager, JLL Project and Development Services, said: “There is an urgent need for the market to adopt a universal accommodation mindset across the board when designing residential environments.
“Through the use of immersive technologies and bleeding-edge construction delivery software, this initiative has demonstrated how universal accommodation — that is, housing that suits anyone — can be the default mindset. We believe any home can be designed affordably with universal accommodation principles.
“We want to show the market how cheaply we can build aesthetically pleasing universal accommodation and also prepare students for the future construction landscape. We hope our work will increase community awareness and increase the number of developments that can ultimately offer more living options for younger people with severe disabilities, many of whom may currently be housed in aged-care facilities. It will also help people transition from assisted living into independent homes.
“This project, and working with the students, is a great way not only to get fresh perspectives from the construction professionals of the future, but to start paving the way for the industry to recognise and act on these needs.
“The students were provided open access to bleeding-edge software inspired by the gaming industry which allowed them to work within a 3D environment while any changes made, such as to specification, price, quantities and vendor selection, updated automatically in the supporting documentation.”
The students were the first “outsiders” to use software designed by Queensland-based PropIntel to boost efficiency and alleviate the delays, design changes and cost increases common to construction projects. A BIM-enabled suite of tools, PropIntel is fully compatible with Autodesk Revit and contains a database of material costs and rates.
Working in two teams with a sketch provided by Studio Halton, the students modelled, viewed, costed and planned their projects. A final design has been chosen which could potentially be built on the Victoria Park site.
The PropIntel-Revit workflow can calculate cost and quantities as well as automatically populate all documentation required to deliver the project. Using virtual and augmented reality to simulate a first-hand experience helps the students tailor the environment to meet a tenant’s specific needs.
Troy Cavallaro, CEO of PropIntel and Director of Technology at Cairns builder Allaro Homes, said he spent almost a decade creating the software and is poised to offer it worldwide. The Curtin students’ project was his test case.
“PropIntel is a platform technology which provides the construction industry with an ecosystem for the different sectors,” Mr Cavallaro said. “Architects, engineering, builders, suppliers and sub-contractors all have an interface that is finetuned for them. It all connects to a central database so we can really quickly share information on it and derive information from it.
“JLL in WA understood the significance, and they connected us with Curtin.”
Mr D’Arcy said: “Delivering construction projects using this a 3D medium as the single source of truth provides an opportunity for clients to fully understand cost, time and aesthetic prior to transacting. Equally, builders will benefit through a reduction in administration tasks, greater accuracy and greater certainty of project costs.”
Jane Matthews, Associate Professor in Construction Management in the School of Design and the Built Environment at Curtin University, said: “Having access to cutting-edge technology backed by industry expertise ensures that our students have the best possible learning environment. Through the PropIntel system, they get to challenge traditional methods of working while developing the skills needed to meet the changing demands of an increasingly digitised construction industry.”
Lisa Halton, managing director, Studio Halton, said: “We hope initiatives like these will assist with shifting perceptions of an us-and-them method of designing environments. All buildings should have universal access in mind, without exception, and suppliers need to get on board.
“Using the PropIntel software allows us designers to do what we do best; listen to our clients and translate their goals into great buildings. Great universal design results from a collaboration of great minds; universal designers, software developers in assistive technology, occupational therapists, carers, project managers, suppliers and contractors to name but a few.
“When we are allowed time to innovate, we do change the world for those with disability. PropIntel is intelligent and user friendly. It has resulted in enormous time efficiencies in the design and construction process so we can spend more time with our clients and continuing our research and development.”
JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. Our vision is to reimagine the world of real estate, creating rewarding opportunities and amazing spaces where people can achieve their ambitions. In doing so, we will build a better tomorrow for our clients, our people and our communities. JLL is a Fortune 500 company with annual revenue of $16.3 billion, operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of nearly 92,000 as of June 30, 2019. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit jll.com