“VisB+”: Visualization in the public participation process

Process Optimization − Digital Innovation Factory

How can modern visualization technologies be used to involve the public when planning large construction projects?

© Fraunhofer IAO
Immersive building inspection in the Immersive Engineering Lab, at Fraunhofer IAO.


Large-scale construction projects invariably generate a certain degree of conflict. They must therefore be planned and communicated so that the public accepts them. Together with the University of Hohenheim, a Fraunhofer IAO project team is investigating the overarching research question: what part can visualizations play in ensuring that construction planning is understandable and credible?


Expert workshops are used to identify the requirements that the various groups – planners, project developers, associations, civil society stakeholders – place on visualizations. In focus groups available visualization techniques are examined and compared: plans, architectural models, renderings, interactive computer models and virtual reality. The emphasis here is on finding out how understandable and credible these are to the average person. Ultimately, expert workshops and analyses provide insights into which phases in engineering planning and which types of building visualization lend themselves to public participation.


The goal is to prepare a visualization guide for industry and administrations. This will provide information on which visualizations are suitable for public participation and in which planning phases.

VisB+ is funded by the Baden-Württemberg Stiftung’s sustainable building research program.

Project run time:
November 2015 to October 2017

Expert opinions

Prof. Frank Brettschneider, responsible for VisB+ at the University of Hohenheim:
“If implemented correctly, visualizations are a real opportunity to make construction projects tangible. We’re investigating what it takes for visualizations to be seen as credible, and how they can facilitate a constructive discussion about planning alternatives?”

Günter Wenzel, project manager for VisB+, Fraunhofer IAO:
“If planning data is available in a suitable form – for example from a building information model (BIM) – you could show various versions of a construction project at the click of a mouse button. You can then have, for instance, members of the public take a virtual tour of them as part of planning workshops.”