Current Living Labs

PhD project - Virtual Design and Collaboration (Marc van den Berg)


Marc van den Berg, MSc. –

Supervisors: Dr. Timo Hartmann, Dr. Hans Voordijk, Arjen Adriaanse, Prof.dr. Geert Dewulf

Moving towards integrative construction works

As a response to increased globalization and specialization, the construction industry is moving towards more integrated work practices. Successful outcomes of construction projects demand forging stronger links between the main parties in the supply chain. Novel IT paradigms, in particular Building Information Modeling (BIM), enable architects, engineers, contractors and suppliers to establish effective collaboration. Given the rapid industry movements, university education needs to be adapted as well to prepare the workforce of the future. Teaching students how to establish effective work interactions with other disciplines is nevertheless challenging since educational programs are segregated with different disciplines having different learning objectives, curriculum schedules and teaching responsibilities. However, advances in computing power have recently given rise to new educational arenas based on virtual reality. Such virtual learning environments have not yet been applied in construction education.


This research explores the use of virtual methods within the construction sector.

Developing and testing a virtual learning environment

This design-science research aims to explore how virtual learning environments can support teaching students how to use visualizations and simulations for optimizing construction supply chains. It iterates between the development of a virtual learning environment, its evaluation and subsequent feedback to refine the software further. A low-tech workshop with construction management academics will provide a basis for the game play and features that need to be included. It then proceeds to create a high-tech virtual learning environment based on a game engine. The envisioned virtual learning environment allows students to adopt a role as one of the construction supply chain parties, to visualize construction work and to simulate how one’s own decisions affect the performance of others. Through experimenting with the software in a construction management course, this study seeks to answer whether students become more aware of the core processes and problems within the construction supply chain and are able to develop and validate improvements.


The study iterates between developing, evaluating and field-testing a virtual learning environment to visualize and simulate construction supply chains.

Professionalizing the construction industry

This study provides an important stepping stone to prepare future construction professionals to deal with present and future challenges within the construction supply chain. Through the application of state-of-the-art technologies, it yields a unique virtual learning environment aimed at university construction education. This research outcome crosses disciplinary boundaries as it enables students to visualize and simulate the construction supply chain as a whole. It thereby yields an understanding how novel educational arenas can assist in teaching students to improve construction practice. That contributes to strategies to introduce and leverage new IT paradigms within educational programs, and ultimately helps to further professionalize the construction industry.



Screenshots of previous work illustrating the engaging experience virtual environments offer


Prototypical virtual environment for design review: