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Sustainable urban development with 3D, laser and VR

Photo: cowi


​Technological development may be the key to handling future population growth and concentration in our cities.


By 2060, the world population will have increased from 7.5 to 10 billion. Most of these people will be living in cities. Some will be cities that have evolved over thousands of years, as well as completely new and smart cities and large temporary refugee camps.

This poses a range of challenges and technology is among the important solutions, according to Marius Sekse, a landscape architect and BIM strategist at COWI in Norway.

Last week, he took part in Hong Kong’s leading BIM conference, HKIBIM. The aim was to tell Chinese experts how 3D, laser scanning and VR technology can be used to design smarter and more sustainable cities.


“Population growth, urbanisation and climate change are forcing us to work and think differently, when we develop and design our cities. If the cities that we plan fail, the consequences will be fatal for the society we live in. That is where the new technology will help us,” says Sekse.

Marius Sekse has several key roles at COWI in Norway, including BIM strategist for the Transport and Urban Development division, technical manager for landscape architecture, and assistant manager of COWI’s centre for risk-reducing design.

Sought-after Norwegian expertise

The annual conference of the Hong Kong Institute of Building Information Modelling (HKIBIM) is aimed at experienced BIM specialists from all over the world. Marius Sekse was the only speaker from Norway, but feels that we have a lot to teach other markets about the smart use of BIM.

“I told the story of how COWI moved from 2D to BIM and virtual reality in its urban planning, and showed examples from Norwegian projects where we are using 3D laser scanning, VR and model-based solutions to plan our cities better,” says Sekse.

Rising above the hype

Sekse says it is also important to be able to rise above the hype. It is not the case that every project needs to use the latest technology in all areas.

“Sometimes, clients need reports or drawings. At other times, 3D visualisations may be appropriate, and for large and complex projects, there will be a need for advanced, multi-disciplinary BIM models. We often advise clients on the level to aim at according to their complexity and scope, so they have the best possible basis for decision to take to their stakeholders,” explains Sekse.

Breaking down silos

He also finds that the new technology is a powerful driver when it comes to arousing curiosity about ways of delivering faster, cheaper and better quality in building projects – whether hospitals, airports, roads, railways or urban spaces.

“The new technology encourages people to collaborate. It breaks down specialised silos and ensures that people talk to each other. This generates innovation and better solutions,” says Sekse.

Sekse is an experienced and sought-after presenter and panellist, and has spoken at major conferences in Russia, the USA, Denmark and Norway.


Some of COWI's biggets BIM projects​

  • E16 Nybakk – Slomarka
  • Joint project: E6/Dovre line
  • New Østfold Hospital, Sarpsborg
  • T2: new terminal at Oslo Airport
  • Østfold line (InterCity)

About COWI

  • International consulting group within engineering, economics and environment.
  • A global leader in marine and port facilities, bridges and solid waste.
  • 6,400 employees involved in more than 13,000 projects at any given moment.
  • 90 offices in 25 countries.
  • Net turnover of EUR 747 million (2015).
  • Founded in Denmark in 1930.​

LAST UPDATED: 02.09.2017