The Space Adventure Has Building Options

Based in both Sophia Antipolis and Marne-la-Vallée, the MODEVE (enriched virtual environment modelling) team has "distanced itself from its core business" to join the space adventure! Accordingly, in partnership with the ESA (European Space Agency) and CNES (National Space Research Centre), CSTB has developed and perfected the software tool, Baghera-View, making it possible to represent a 3D digital model. It’s main asset? Using the STEP-TAS universal data exchange format developed by the ESA. CSTB has also been involved in the STEP-TAS project through the creation of programming libraries. This data format allows software tools to export and import projects universally and without compatibility restrictions. Won over by the European standard, NASA joined the project in 2006!

Space and building industry: similarities

The STEP-TAS programming libraries are integrated into the main space thermal analysis software (“thermal desktop”) used by the NASA/California Jet propulsion laboratory for designing the Mars Pathfinder – photo copyright NASA

There are many common points that translate the rapprochement between space and building activities: “In both cases, each project is unique”, explains Elisa Ciuti, project leader with the MODEVE team in Sophia Antipolis. “Therefore, many players from different backgrounds are working together, which gives rise to data exchange projects between the industries.” For example, the architect of the satellite must be able to exchange data with the teams in charge of thermal analysis or reactors, and, more generally, with equipment manufacturers. The same is true between the different players in the building industry. “Fortified by our experience from working with the space industry, the tools on which we worked are currently being transposed for the building and public works industry”, states Elisa Ciuti.

The MODEVE team uses and promotes the IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) data exchange standard, designed to standardize data exchanges during building design, “a language that comes from the same bases as the STEP-TAS standard used in the space industry.” CSTB participated in perfecting IFC-Bridge, an exchange standard dedicated to bridge design.

Finally, a tool to view building projects in 3D for the IFC standard, based on the Baghera-View software had to be created. “This tool, called eveBIM, is currently being validated”, adds Elisa Ciuti, reiterating that simulation software publishers for the building industry have played the game and are integrating import/export gateways into the IFC standard. “Architects, design and engineering departments and asset managers still have to put these real advances to good use!”

This is how the results of this work with the space sector are being used already in the eXpert and COMMUNIC projects with the principal players from the building and infrastructure construction sector, and which we will discuss in future articles.