UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage


Danae Pocobelli

Thesis title: Building Information Models from monitoring to simulation data in heritage buildings

Primary Supervisor: Dr Josep Grau-Bové
Secondary Supervisor: Dr Jan Böhm
Project start date: September 2016
Project completion date: September 2019

This research aims to both analyse the current use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) in heritage buildings and how to improve it.

BIM has been extensively analysed, specifically focussing on its employment with existing buildings. BIM is defined as a collaborative process that supports the management of the life-cycle of a building, going from its conceptual phase until its realisation, its maintenance or even its demolition.

Through a preliminary case study, the applicability of BIM process on heritage buildings has been studied, specifically concentrating on non-expert users. For this task, we chose to use Autodesk Revit as the BIM software, and the Jewel Tower in Westminster, London as the case study. The preliminary case study allowed to detect important gaps in BIM when used for heritage buildings. One of the most striking is the absence of a dedicated tool for condition reports. Hence, the aim of this project is the development of a heritage-specific tool that will enable stakeholder to make informed decisions in maintenance planning, supported by BIM.

Given that humidity is a major factor in the weathering of façades, being able to forecast and monitor humidity presence is one of the main ways in which predictions of weathering/degradation can be introduced in BIM.  To achieve this, a weathering forecasting model will be produced, and then integrated into BIM. Specifically, working with Revit, the integration will be obtained using Dynamo. Dynamo is a tool that enables visual programming, through the organisation into nodes and wires. Nodes represent parameters and actions, whilst wires represent the relationships between them. Dynamo also supports the creation of nodes through Python coding, which gives full flexibility. The above-mentioned forecasting model is created through the numerical solution of damage functions, the rainwater runoff model and the sharp front theory.

This project aims to support stakeholders through BIM. A BIM model – enhanced with the integration of the weathering forecasting model – will give detailed information on possible degradation patterns. This information can be effectively used to plan both ordinary and extraordinary maintenance. This research is therefore beneficial for the heritage science sector, as a new methodology is being developed, which considers management needs and cost containment. It is beneficial for the society as well, since it develops a strategy that helps maintaining and conserving our built heritage.


Danae Pocobelli is a 2nd year PhD student at UCL, London. She holds a Bachelor + Master’s degree in Building Engineering and Architecture, awarded by Sapienza University of Rome. She is specialised in structural consolidation of heritage buildings. After working for a few months in Sapienza as a teaching assistant, she moved to London to attend a Master of Research in Science and Engineering for Arts, Heritage, and Archaeology (SEAHA) at UCL. After being awarded with Merit, she proceeded her research project with a PhD within the SEAHA programme.

Danae has been working actively in the research field since early 2015. She has published 2 papers about her Sapienza thesis, and her first paper on BIM has been just published. At the same time, she has been invited to give lectures internationally, and she has participated in many international conferences, such as SGEM (Vienna 2016), SEAHA Conference (Brighton 2017), ICOM-CC (Copenhagen 2017), GeoRes (Florence 2017), 3D Modeling & BIM (Rome 2017 and 2018), ISPRS TCII (Riva del Garda, 2018).