Doctoral dissertation: Gamified data model to help building design

Jukka Selin

The doctoral dissertation of Jukka Selin at Tampere University presents ideas and methods, as well as pilots carried out to test them in order to gamify the data model and utilize the gamified data model at different stages of the building’s life cycle, from design to building maintenance.

The design of the building and the different stages of its life cycle require the pooling of expertise from several different sectors and actors. Needed e.g. building design, structural design, electrical design and HVAC design. The idea of information modeling, commonly referred to as BIM (Building Information Modeling), has been developed to improve and intensify collaboration between different actors. The basic idea is to keep all the information about the construction logically in one place. Physically, the data model can be centralized or decentralized. A data model can serve the design and construction of an object, but it can also be maintained throughout the life cycle of an object. In this case, it could act as an interface for monitoring and maintaining the building, for example.

Studies have also shown that 3D modeling of objects is worthwhile. The 3D presentation of objects greatly facilitates the understanding of the object and thereby improves cooperation between different actors at all stages of the building life cycle, from design to maintenance. (Hilfert & König, 2016.)

Nowadays, design is usually done in 3D, and as a part of the data model different 3D models of the building are created. One such submodel is the architectural model, which describes the object from the point of view of architectural design. A natural step for the data modeling of the buildings is gamification. Gamification refers to the use of game development methods and tools in a context other than the game. In this case, the context is primarily the design and construction of the buildings, and through this the illustration of the plans. (Seaborn & Felsh, 2015.)

Gamification means at least free movement in building but may also include many other features that support the design and visualization of the object. Many CAD softwares already include a simple gamification, such as free movement. If gamification is done using by game engines, the gamified data model can include exactly the features we want.

The dissertation presents ideas and methods, as well as pilots carried out to test them in order to gamified the data model and utilize the gamified data model at different stages of the building’s life cycle, from design to building maintenance.

The main topics are mobility, sizing, accessibility, and building safety. In addition, the thesis presents ideas and methods for crowdsourcing of design with a gamified data model and multiplayer techniques. The work also utilizes my patented Functional Design Method (FDM), which provides an idea and method for better consideration of the actual space requirements of a building at different stages of its life cycle. The FDM method has been granted patent in Finland and the USA.

We have studied the functionality of the ideas and methods we have developed in practice by carrying out a number of different pilots. We carried out some artefacts in connection with the pilots. We conducted a participatory observation during each pilot, and conducted an open-ended interview study with the actors involved in the pilot. In addition, we conducted a few thematic interviews. The pilots were used primarily to study the utilization of the functional design method I developed together with a gamified data model of the building at various targets. The subject of the first pilot is the design of the accessibility of the building. The second pilot is related to the design and dimensioning of an emergency exit of a building, as well as the utilization of artificial intelligence and data analytics in the design. The subject of the third and fourth pilots is the crowdsourcing of design using multiplayer techniques and nonlinear storytelling methods and tools.

The dissertation utilizes a constructive research approach with the help of design science and design research methods. The empirical data of the research have been collected mainly by qualitative methods, utilizing participatory observation, open interviews and thematic interviews. In addition, the dissertation includes a literature review that presents previous research in the field and also justifies the need for this dissertation.

The literature review contained in the dissertation shows that the researchers have found the need to get functionality and user activities greater role in building design right from the beginning of the design. In addition, better visibility of the plans and through this greater involvement of users in design is, according to researchers, key requirements for building design now and in the future. Various simulations and design transparency, for example through crowdsiurcing, are also desirable trends. We also obtained similar results from the interviews we conducted during the pilots.

The interviews were mainly aimed at construction companies that are partners in our RDI projects. Their main demand was to take better account of the functionality in the building right from the start of the design as well as improving the visibility of building plans in general. In addition, they were very interested in finding new uses for the data model, for example through gamification.

The methods presented in the dissertation and the related pilots contribute to meeting these challenges presented above. The method of functional design I developed helps designers to dimension spaces in terms of the activities that take place in the premises. The method we have developed and the process that supports the method to gamificate the data model helps to illustrate construction plans and thereby involve nonconstruction professionals better in the design from the very beginning. This goal is also supported by the multi-user planning environments, which allow for example crowdsourcing of the planning.

Our partner companies have also tested the methods we have developed in their own commercial projects. Some of these tests are also directly related to the pilots we did with them. For example, the method of gamificate the data model and the process supporting the method have been tested in the gamification of the new buildings of Mikkeli Central Hospital, In the gamification of the new Hiekanpää school center in Pieksämäki and in the gamification of a new fire station building. In addition, they have tested the functional design method in determining the customer profiles of the emergency exit simulation of the Pieksämäki shopping center and in accessibility simulation and sizing. The crowdsourcing of design has also been tested in two practical business projects, which are the furniture design of the Hiekanpää school center and the multi-user design of the fire station.

In addition to the literature review, our interviews with partner companies and other project actors in connection with the pilots show that the method of functional design together with the gamification of the data model of the building provides significant added value to the design and maintenance of the building throughout the life cycle of the building.

There are many different use for our piloted ideas on accessibility design, sizing, security simulation, and crowdsourcing of the design support our views on the applicability and added value of functional design method for data modelbased building design. This view is further reinforced by the findings of our partner companies in their own commercial projects, which have also emerged from our interviews during the projects and during the pilots. The publications related to this dissertation mainly deal with these topics from different perspectives, as well as presenting pilot studies and the results of the studies.

The doctoral dissertation of Lic.Phil. Jukka Selin in the field of interactive technology titled Tietomallin pelillistäminen ja toiminnallisen suunnittelun menetelmä rakennusten suunnittelun apuna was publicly examined at the Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Sciences of Tampere University on Friday 26 March, 2021. The opponent was Professor Markku Tukiainen from University of Eastern Finland while Professor Markku Turunen acted as the custos.

The dissertation is available online at

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