Preview: NXT BLD 2018

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Andrew Watts, Newtecnic, will present his future vision for Architecture, Engineering and Construction. Depicted in 2038, construction workers and cobots work together maintaining the facade of the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) Metro Hub in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Flying Lidar equipped drones inspect the structure feeding data to the building’s cloud hosted digital twin

NXT BLD (Next Build) is AEC Magazine’s annual industry event, taking place this year on 13 June at Congress Centre in central London. We aim to build an open forum for forward looking designers and construction professionals to gather and hear from key developers, researchers and practices, which are experimenting with revolutionary future technologies.

AEC Magazine was the first journal to concentrate specifically on BIM and the move from drawings to modelling. With this process underway and with many firms now focussing on digital processes, NXT BLD builds on this to cover technologies which extend model-based design to drive digital fabrication, digital processes and other benefits such as real-time visualisation, immersive VR and onsite AR.

The last 10 years of our industry have mainly been spent in developing the skills to model and to derive processes to collaborate in a much more complex, yet explicit, manner. While this is still very hit and miss, advanced firms are already exchanging digital models with fabricators, replicating practices adopted by automotive and aerospace firms. While this is usually found in high-end projects, if we’re ever to solve issues such as the UK’s housing crisis, then digital fabrication and modularisation must play an important part in mass produced housing. For the industry this represents an incredible challenge and change to the way buildings are constructed and designed.

Augmented Reality Image courtesy of Soluis


Topics and speakers

If there were to be a main theme for NXT BLD 2018 then it would be Digital Fabrication. This combines a number of key themes: modularisation, factory automation, robotics, CNC, 3D printing and pre-fabrication. We are excited to have an incredible group of expert speakers from practice and research, to examine the many aspects of what ‘going digital’ in the context of fabrication means. Hedwig Heinsman (DUS architects / Aectual), Bruce Bell (Facit Homes) Stefana Parascho (Gramazio Kohler Research), Andrei Jipa (ETH Zurich) and Andrew Watts (Newtecnic).

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality were certainly hot topics for last year and as the industry rapidly matures, we are seeing the technologies being evaluated for deployment within the industry. We welcome speakers Marc Petit of Epic Games and Dr Max Mallia-Parfitt from Fulcro to look at what’s coming in terms of software capabilities and headset designs. Whilst VR is certainly more usable, mature and a ‘known entity’, Augmented Reality still appears to be in a formative stage.

London’s own UCL has an array of construction- related research projects and labs and we are honoured to have two researchers from the University, including Dr. Eleni Papadonikolaki, to talk on aspects around Blockchain, one of the hottest topics in computing. The Construction Blockchain Consortium is building a proof-of-concept transactional ledger system to potentially be applied to replacing building contracts, enhancing supply chains and even linking to modelling.

Changing the scale from buildings to cities, IoT (Internet of Things) technology is heavily impacting the field of urban design enabling the monitoring of traffic, waste, people, assets, power, water – just about every economic and environmental condition. We have talks from Dipa Joshi of Assael Architecture and Rebecca De Cicco of Digital Node looking at the planning and impact of Smart City projects.

As AEC software development continues at pace, having the right workstation hardware in place to support graphics intensive applications, such as VR, is always a challenge. Mike Leach from Lenovo will examine the hardware trends and identify potential choke points to avoid for optimum performance.

Hedwig Heinsman, Aectual will present technology that enables the production of 3D printed building products on an industrial scale


NXT BLD is not just a conference, but also a high-tech exhibition where delegates can get their hands on the very latest technologies. This year there’s a big focus on real time visualisation and VR with experts from Enscape, Virtalis and Soluis to take your BIM models into another dimension.

Simulation will also be ‘real time’ with Ansys showing how advanced analysis tools can now be used by non-experts.

Lenovo will be showcasing a whole host of desktop and mobile workstations that can deliver the power that advanced AEC, design viz and VR software demands.

There’ll also be 3D printing from ARRK, real-time issue tracking from Revizto, point cloud to intelligent 3D mesh modelconversion from Pointfuse, collaborative online BIM from 3D Repo and lots more.

Smart concrete Image courtesy of Andrei Jipa


With regular coffee breaks, lunch and a post-event drinks mixer in the space adjacent to the NXT BLD theatre, there will be plenty of time to socialise, meet with your peers and talk to our illustrious speakers.

Event details

Registration / exhibition – 8:30am – 6:45pm

Conference – 9:45am – 5:15pm

Networking drinks – 5:15pm – 6:45pm Congress Centre, London, WC1B 3LN

Exclusive 2-for-1 offer

For readers of DEVELOP3D magazine, we are offering a strictly limited number of tickets on a special 2-for-1 offer. Simply use the promotional code 241AEC and you can pick up a pair for £50. Tickets include full access to the conference and exhibition, refreshments, lunch and drinks at the networking reception. When they’re gone, they’re gone.

The speakers

Dr Max Mallia-Parfit – Fulcro Group

As director of applied technologies – Mixed Reality, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality – Dr Max Mallia-Parfit is a computer scientist who builds VR simulations for Fulcro’s clients, including CrossRail. In his talk, he will look at VR/AR in construction and forthcoming immersive technologies. • VR / AR / Mixed Reality

Rebecca De Cicco – Digital Node

Rebecca De Cicco runs a global business assisting clients to upskill to get the most from BIM and associated digital processes in multidisciplinary design and construction environments. De Cicco will bring a global perspective on BIM adoption, specifically with implementation of Smart City projects. • Smart cities

Mike Leach – Lenovo UK

Mike Leach will present on the key technology developments driving the workstation marketplace today, and how these will impact your ultimate productivity and workflow. Learn what to look out for, where to invest your budgets and how to best configure your next workstation investment. • Workstation technology

Hedwig Heinsman – DUS architects / Aectual

As co-founder of DUS architects and 3D print tech firm Aectual. Heinsman’s practice won fame with its 3D printed canal house project, small 3D printed homes. In this talk Heinsman will explore Aectual’s bespoke technology that enables the production of 3D printed building products on an industrial scale. • Architecture / 3D printing / robots

Marc Petit – Unreal Enterprise

The journey into real time architectural design viz and Virtual Reality (VR) has only just begun, with visual quality now approaching that of ray trace rendering. Marc Petit from Unreal Enterprise will give a glimpse into the future with game engine turned serious enterprise viz tool Unreal Engine. • Real time design viz / VR

Andrew Watts – Newtecnic

Engineer and architect Andrew Watts specialises in the engineering design of facades. In this future looking presentation he will cover a wide range of technologies including optimised design for manufacture, mass customisation, fabrication, assembly and installation, as well as machines, robots and drones. • Architecture, engineering & construction

Stefana Parascho – Gramazio Kohler Research

As a PhD researcher at Gramazio Kohler Research and as part of the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Digital Fabrication at the ETH Zurich, Stefana Parascho is an expert in multi-robotic assembly processes for architectural applications such as robotically fabricated structures.

Andrei Jipa – ETH Zurich

Physical architectural forms are not keeping up with the limitless design freedom of digital environments. But 3D printing is here to help us bridge this gap. In this fascinating presentation Jipa will give his insight into the potential impact of 3D printing on concrete construction. • Smart concrete / computational design

Dipa Joshi – Assael Architecture

The built environment is ripe for disruption and there are plenty of emerging technologies queuing up to get a piece of the action – from IoT to VR. But as we start to grow and sculpt digital smart cities, we also must be vigilant about the way we use technology and who is in control of it. • Smart Cities / IoT / VR

Dr. Abel Maciel – Bartlett School of Architecture

Dr. Abel Maciel is honorary senior research associate at the Bartlett School of Architecture specialising in computational design, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Distributed Ledger Technology. At NXT BLD he will present on the future of BIM, Common Data Environments (CDEs), IP, and Blockchain. • CDEs / IP / Blockchain

Bruce Bell – Facit Homes

Pre-fabrication has had its day, says Bruce Bell. Digital Construction is the future. In this fascinating presentation he will explain how Facit Homes is reinventing how homes are built through innovation, R&D and digital technology. Think digitally manufactured big wooden ‘lego’ designed for assembly. • Digital construction / BIM to manufacture

Dr Eleni Papadonikolaki – UCL Bartlett School

Blockchain isn’t just a technology for crypto currencies. It has potentially revolutionary applications within the AEC sector. Dr Eleni Papadonikolaki, from UCL Bartlett School will talk on the research of the Construction Blockchain Consortium and its application to digital management. • Blockchain in AEC

Watch the presentations from NXT BLD 2017

To help get you in the mood for NXT BLD 2018, all of the videos from our 2017 event are available now at Highlights include Tim Geurtjens from MX3D on 3D printing structural metal objects and Johan Hanegraaf’s live demo 3D modelling buildings inside VR.

3D printed canal house, DUS Architects

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Conference exploring incredible future design technologies – London 13 June

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