PICTOR Product Model Environment For Construction Projects

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The construction process is characterised by one-of-the-kind complex products (buildings); numerous participants, which usually are changing from project to project; various forms of organisation of the projects and varying responsibilities; the use of numerous different types of computer applications. These characteristics set special requirements for the construction information management process: the need for intensive data exchange and information sharing based on an open integration of the applications. This can be achieved by data exchange standards providing basis for flexible exchange of product model data in the construction projects, and product modelling applications being capable of using and exchanging product model data.

The Finnish RATAS-work (~ Computer Aided Design of Buildings) has served as a forum for the common industry goal: the development of an open information system for the construction industry, which would enable better utilisation of information technology for the management of construction information process. From the development of general RATAS framework model, prototype applications and partial application product data models, the RATAS-work is now shifting to the development of practical data exchange standards, to be published in the near future.

The ISO/STEP-work (Standard for the Exchange of Product Model Data, officially ISO 10303) has resulted in a new product data technology providing on the other hand methods for the development of product data descriptions and methods for data exchange and information sharing, and on the other hand STEP provides data exchange standards for various application domains. The development of STEP-standards for AEC / Building and Construction is currently in planning stage.

The emerging object-oriented tools and development environments provide new possibilities for the implementation of the developed product data models and complex product model applications.


The overall objective of the PICTOR project is to contribute to the development of product model based construction computing, and data exchange and information sharing of building product model data between the applications. This objective is decomposed into subtasks as follows:

  • Development of building product/production data models describing the information to be created, used, maintained etc. in the building design / construction planning process.
  • Development of a model for integrated management (i.e. version, change and transaction management) of construction information.
  • Introduction of object-oriented methods and tools into the application development work.
  • Implementation of the models in the form of generic tools (product model browsers) and an object-oriented product model environment for integrated construction information management.
  • Integration of existing building design / production planning applications to the product model environment, being capable of exchanging product model data stored in the product model database.
  • Also, participation into the RATAS and STEP/ AEC/ Building & Construction work is planned.
  • Organisation and resources

    The PICTOR-project is one of the four projects of VTT's STAR research program (Systems Engineering in Construction). The research program as a whole aims at the development of theoretical foundation, systematic methodology, tools and knowledge for continuous improvement of construction process performance. In that framework information technology is recognised as one of the tools for a construction process with shorter duration, better controllability and quality, and lower costs.

    The STAR research program and PICTOR project has a duration of 3 years (-94 ... -96), and the volume of PICTOR is about 8 man years.


    The project will use the applicable parts of the STEP product data technology, like information modelling methods, modelling tools, data exchange formats etc. The modelling approach is to use a generic, i.e. application domain independent, product data model to which application/discipline specific information can be mapped. The generic model provides flexible support for varying data exchange needs, and can be implemented using various software tools.

    The software development (implementation of the models as browsers and the product model environ ment) will be done in PC/Windows environment using object-oriented methods and tools, e.g. C++ and object-oriented database. The developed models, their implementation and the integrated applications will be tested by data exchange demonstration based on populating the product model database with pilot project data.


    The main results from the project are:

  • The information and information management models describing the information content and management procedures for building design and construction planning.
  • Generic product model browsers and the product model environment for integrated management of construction information.
  • Building design and construction planning applications integrated (via data exchange) to the product model environment.
  • Contribution to RATAS and STEP/AEC work.
  • Exploitation

    The results and information technology and STEP know-how from the PICTOR project can be used in the development of data exchange and information sharing solutions for integrated management of con struction information, and product model applications. The results also serve the development and intro duction of RATAS data exchange standards. The product model environment forms a kernel (a database for virtual building) for the development and testing of future product model applications of various domains.

    Point of contact

    Pictor project

    Kari Karstila
    VTT Building Technology
    P.O.Box 1801
    FIN - 02044 VTT FINLAND
    Tel. +358 0 456 4579
    Fax. +358 0 456 6251
    Email: Kari.Karstila@vtt.fi

    STAR program

    Matti Hannus
    VTT Building Technology
    P.O.Box 1801
    FIN - 02044 VTT FINLAND
    Tel. +358 0 456 6948
    Fax. +358 0 456 6251
    Email: Matti.Hannus@vtt.fi

    Updated 20.6.1995 by Kari Karstila , Computer Integrated Construction research team, VTT Building Technology