WZMH Architects’ Innovation Lab designing the world’s first digitally enabled building

One of the architectural sector’s biggest challenges has been keeping up with the pace of growth, and actually implementing cutting edge thinking and technology into design build processes. By investing in a dedicated innovation lab where they produce smart building prototypes and products, WZMH Architects is transforming the idea of integrating smart building technologies into buildings into an immediate physical reality.

The Ryerson University Smart Campus Integration and Testing Hub (SCITHub) will be the world’s first building that is 100 percent digitally enabled. The facility will showcase and test “smart building” technology that aims to address and mitigate climate change. In 2017 WZMH created the Intelligent Structural Panel (ISP), an innovative prefabricated building product which would inspire the development of other unique smart building technologies and forward-thinking concepts. Ryerson SCITHub is the first project that will integrate the Intelligent Structural Panel (ISP), a prefabricated steel Sandwich Plate System (SPS) panel with intelligence inside. It functions similar to a plug-and-play smart tablet, except that you can also walk on it. Compatible systems and devices that address lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, motorized shades, smoke alarms, security systems, and more will be explored in the development of the facility. The ISP utilizes an energy-efficient low-voltage system (DC) and power over ethernet connectivity.Data streams will be collected from SCITHub and an in-house “Digital Twin” will gather performance data of the building, infrastructure systems information to optimize, detect activity and support operations. The SCITHub facility’s floor slabs are comprised of the ISP, providing the two storey, 3,000-sq.-ft. mass timber structure with direct access to a Power over Ethernet (PoE) device network.This project is very important to the university, the local and broader construction industry, and the WZMH research team’s work since it is both a research project and a prototype. Federal and provincial funding applications included the ISP as an integral component to the SCITHub research grant, therefore the ISP is a guaranteed part of the project. Private companies, including Cisco, Argentum Electronics, Schneider Electric, Mitsubishi and others have also been on board, donating their time, material and logistics.A portion of our WZMH office has become an active research and development lab space with working prototypes on display. Here, we develop and test new ideas and software applications in collaboration with industry partners including those companies that are involved with the Ryerson SCITHub. sparkbird is the culmination of the success of the lab since its inception. It is now the official name of WZMH’s research and development arm that is igniting change in our built environment. Similarly to WZMH’s in-house lab space, the SCITHub will house a workshop area where private industry partners and university researchers can collaborate and test new smart building technologies.

“As architects, it’s always been an afterthought regarding technology integrations into the fabric of our buildings – at WZMH, we began realizing that we can help design buildings to be ‘smarter’ from day one. By pushing the boundaries of what is traditional, and investing in smart city initiatives in the early stages of planning in architecture and design (including those that are prefabricated or modular) through our sparkbird lab, we are able to create better building solutions that can more quickly solve for some of our society’s greatest needs,” says Zenon Radewych, principal architect and innovation lab lead at WZMH Architects.

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