Carleton University researcher Stephen Fai creates innovative model For Batawa

How would you like to see what an abandoned shoe factory could become – in 3D – with the touch of a button? Or how an entire town could be transformed?

Architecture Professor Stephen Fai, three graduate students and members of the Carleton Immersive Media Studio (CIMS) have developed an innovative model for Batawa that leverages the capabilities of Building Information Management (BIM) software. The result is a navigable timeline that chronicles changes in the past and the future of this historic Bata Shoe company town.

“We’ve incorporated all kinds of data from historic architectural drawings and photographs, topographic surveys, planning proposals, first-hand accounts from residents and other assets to bring Batawa alive on the computer screen,” says Fai. “What’s cool about this project is that it’s more than just a frozen moment in Batawa’s history as you can actually see what once was and what could be in the old shoe factory and other parts of town.”

Media are invited to see the project in action by visiting the CIMS lab on Wednesday, February 16 from 10:30am to 12:00 noon. The location is 4th floor of the Visualization and Simulation Building on the Carleton University campus.

Fai points out that very little research has explored the value of BIM in the management of heritage buildings and heritage landscapes. “Our Batawa project shows the value of doing this,” he says. “This not only brings old buildings back to life but, from a design and architectural standpoint, shows what they could be turned into.”

CIMS worked with AutoDesk Research Canada, MITACS and the Batawa Development Corporation on this latest project. The grad students working on the project are: Todd Duckworth, Katie Graham and Nevil Wood.

CIMS, the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism, the School of Industrial Design and the Faculty of Public Affairs have been collaborating since May 2009 on an interdisciplinary project to help Sonja Bata turn Batawa into a model sustainable village. Several architecture and industrial design students spent most of the summer of 2009 on site coming up with design plans for the Batawa Development Corporation to consider. 

“It was a great ‘anything but textbook’ experience for the students,” notes Fai. That work continues. Thirty-one industrial design students are spending this term devising new ideas for various parts of the town, including a community garden, forest trail system and splash pad for children.