Housing 4.0 - digital platform for affordable living

The main aim of this project is the development of an integrated framework for the digital platform "Housing 4.0"; thus supporting integrated planning and project delivery through coupling various digital tools and databases. Thereby, the potentials of BIM for modular, off-site housing assembly in order to improve planning and construction processes, reduce cost and construction time and allow for mass customization will be explored. The novel approach in this project is user-involvement; which has been neglected in recent national and international projects on off-site, modular construction, supported by digital technologies.

Short Description



Starting point / motivation

The increasing impact of digitalisation will lead to a crucial transformation in the AEC industry, while the demand for affordable housing has led to a resurgence of the modular, off-site housing construction. However, digital technologies have not yet been fully incorporated in the design and construction processes for off-site modular fabrication, despite their potential for both accelerated as well as cost and material efficient housing construction. 

As computational tools and BIM enhance involvement of all relevant actors across the value chain, these technologies have significant potential for enabling mass customization and participatory design in the layout of individual dwelling units and the distribution of non-housing uses within multi-storey housing buildings.

Previous research on BIM-based off-site production is mainly focused on the process optimization through reduction of cost and time while neglecting user requirements regarding adaptability and flexibility, nor integrating the principles of participant design. Previous projects, mainly developed by construction companies and producers of off-site modular elements, thus lack to integrate both the user perspective as well as the perspective of architectural design, which enhances spatial, functional and social qualities.

Contents and goals

In Housing 4.0, an integrated framework for a BIM-based, digital platform "Housing 4.0", which integrates the processes and actors involved in the design, construction and use of multi-storey housing buildings, is being developed. 

BIM-based planning tools and methods are used for modular off-site production in multi-storey residential buildings, with the aim of enabling the production of affordable, innovative residential buildings. 

For the first time, users will also be involved, thus integrating the increasingly important aspect of participation. Through digital, BIM-based planning, modelling and optimisation, cost and construction time reductions as well as mass customisation can be achieved in the residential building sector.



The digital platform "Housing 4.0" develops and interlinks two novel methods: "BIM4D2P" (BIM for Design to Production) and "PHD" (Parametric Habitat Designer), with a joint digital knowledge base containing all relevant parameters for design and construction.

  1. "BIM4D2P" primarily addresses planner and manufacturing companies. By creating common data structures in the interface between component planning and off-site production data losses will be eliminated.
  2. "PHD" serves for users and developers/investors. "PHD" is designed to automatically generate and visualize floor plans and buildings and to automatically calculate the investment costs and return of investment. PHD also enables life cycle scenarios for decision making and life cycle planning.

Expected results

A framework for a BIM-based, digital platform "Housing 4.0", which integrates the processes and actors involved in the design, construction and use of multi-storey housing buildings, including architects, construction companies, housing associations and property developers and finally users, is the expected result of this project.

The main results of this research project are the frameworks for BIM4D2P and PHD, the digital object libraries of the BIM modules, and the creation of common interfaces and data structures for data and information exchange along the value chain.

By providing a digital, BIM-based planning, modelling and optimization framework reduced costs and construction times as well as individualisation (mass customisation) in the housing sector are expected.

Project Partners

Project management

Univ. Prof. Dipl.Ing. Dr.techn. Iva Kovacic, Institute for interdisciplinary building process management – Integrated Planning and Industrial Building, Vienna University of Technology

Project or cooperation partners

  • Institute of Visual Computing and Human-Centered Technology / Research Division of Computer Graphics - Vienna University of Technology
  • Procedural Design s.r.o. & Co. KG
  • ATP Planungs- und Beteiligungs AG
  • Mag. Robert Temel
  • Dipl. Ing. Wilhelm Sedlak GesmbH
  • Hödl Ingenieurholzbau GmbH

Contact Address

Univ. Prof. Dipl.Ing. Dr.techn. Iva Kovacic
Karlsplatz 13, E234-2
A-1040 Vienna
Tel.: +43 (1) 58801 215 26
E-mail: iva.kovacic@tuwien.ac.at
Web: https://www.industriebau.tuwien.ac.at/home/