Global engineering consultancy Aurecon has signalled its intentions to expand its digital design capabilities by acquiring leading digital agency, Studio Magnified (formerly Squint Opera Australia).
Studio Magnified’s team of 25 designers and creative strategists renowned for their work in infrastructure and the built environment have joined Aurecon effective 1 March 2018. Studio Magnified's approach to finding the ‘why’ at the heart of each project and bringing it to life through film and print, and by leveraging installation, apps and interactive technologies was a large part of the agency's appeal to Aurecon.
In response to a growing demand globally, the new digital design team has been tasked with growing the firm’s existing digital and visualisation services, as Governments and developers respond to a growing demand to be able to visualise, understand and support the value of investment in large-scale infrastructure projects.
The growing use of digital technologies is having a major impact on the booming Australian infrastructure sector, according to Aurecon’s Global CEO Giam Swiegers. Swiegers says this is being driven by the Federal and State Governments’ $75 billion worth of nation-building projects including key city-changing projects such as the Melbourne Metro Tunnel Project.
The acquisition by Aurecon of Studio Magnified and its research and development arm, Unsigned Studio, reflects a company-wide transformation and digitisation across Aurecon, under the leadership of Chief Digital Officer Dr Andrew Maher, who Swiegers hired over two years ago to spearhead Aurecon’s investment in developing innovative solutions.
The advent and evolution of technologies such as augmented reality, gaming technologies, AI and 3D modelling are changing the landscape for companies and how they analyse and solve complex design and infrastructure challenges, and then present their projects to clients.
Over the last two years Aurecon has made a conscious effort to boost its digitally skilled staff numbers by 58% as it continues to diversify its workforce. Its core digital team has grown to include Global Digital Leaders, a Digital Futures Team and Digital Practice Leaders across its regions.
Dr Maher believes these new technologies have become a key differentiator for future-ready global engineering companies such as Aurecon, helping to dramatically enhance customers’ experience, while improving collaboration and decision making.
According to Studio Magnified Directors Dave Mackenzie, Foo Chi (Fooch) Sung and Nic Hamilton, Aurecon’s reputation as one of Australia and New Zealand’s most innovative firms in the recent AFR 2017 Most Innovative Firm list that helped seal the deal.
A recent example of Studio Magnified and Unsigned's capabilities is their work on Lendlease's Melbourne Quarter project where they produced a comprehensive set of planning and marketing still imagery, film and VR360s, and also designed and produced interactive tools and displays using creative technology to enhance the impact and experience of the display suites.
These included a physical/digital context model, an interactive projection wall, VR 360 applications for headset and iPad, a dynamic multi-display video wall, and custom display software and operating hardware to enable intuitive interactive engagement.
The digital context model presented a scale model of Melbourne’s ground plane as the physical base for multiple and interactive layers of site and context information. The complete installation included precision CNC machined acrylic models, solid clear 3D printed models, large commercial displays, custom hardware, new display software and an iPad application for control and user input.
Augmented reality, gaming technologies, AI as well as 3D modelling are powerful tools that are changing the way we analyse and solve our client’s increasingly complex urban design and infrastructure challenges. We are also using them to assist owners and investors better visualise how infrastructure assets will perform, in advance of being built.
This is critical to the set up and execution of major projects. It can cut time and costs during design and construction, improve decision making around investment, while assisting Governments and asset owners to present a far more engaging story to their key stakeholders and communities.
- Giam Swiegers, Global CEO, Aurecon
Studio Magnified is a digital agency specialising in ‘informed’ communication to explain complex ideas by combining technology with story-telling techniques.
Studio Magnified’s innovative expertise will play a key role in allowing our clients to experience their projects in a way they never have before – completely reimagining an end-to-end experience, from visualisation to planning, construction and launch
Gaming technology, augmented and virtual reality as well as 3D are having a huge impact on how the vision for major infrastructure and built environment projects are being communicated to project stakeholders, including Government, investors and the public.
- Dr Andrew Maher, Chief Digital Officer, Aurecon
As a company, Aurecon brings ideas to life using cutting edge technology and visualisation tools. Joining forces with Aurecon will allow Studio Magnified to scale up and work on city-changing projects around the globe.
Both companies want to be much more than a ‘tech buyout’. This is a meeting of like-minded leaders, striving to do things differently, on a global scale.
- Dave Mackenzie, Director, Studio Magnified