Left to right: Foo Chi “Fooch” Sung (Director), Dave Mackenzie (Director), Andre Maher (CDO), and Nic Hamilton (Director)
In a move that will diversify its digital engineering and advisory offering andcontinue to drive its own digital transformation, global engineering and infrastructure advisors Aurecon has announced it is acquiring market leading digital agency Studio Magnified, formerly Squint Opera Australia. The team of 25 digital designers and creative strategists renowned for their work in infrastructure and the built environment joined Aurecon effective 1 March 2018.
According to Aurecon’s Global CEO Giam Swiegers, the booming Australian infrastructure sector, driven by the Federal and State Governments’ AUD$75 billion (US$58.62 million) worth of nation building projects, is being impacted by the growing use of digital technologies.
Aurecon’s new digital design team will ramp up the firm’s existing digital and visualisation services currently in demand globally, as Governments and developers respond to a growing community demand to be able to see, understand and buy into the true value created by infrastructure investments.
“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,” Swiegers said. “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.”
Why Studio Magnified
Aurecon’s acquisition 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 (CDO) Dr Andrew Maher, who Swiegers hired over two years ago to spearhead Aurecon’s investment in developing innovative solutions.
“Studio Magnified is a digital agency specialising in ‘informed’ communication to explain complex ideas by combining technology with story-telling techniques. Formerly Squint Opera Australia, Studio Magnified is a leader in the field of digital communications for infrastructure, the built environment and precinct redevelopment and renewal. From a strong base in Melbourne, Studio Magnified has clients in Sydney, Asia and the Middle East. Their success has been built on finding the ‘why’ at the heart of each project and bringing it to life through creative strategy,film and print, and by leveraging installation, apps and interactive technologies,” Maher said. “Whether through the approvals process or obtaining finance, helping clients better understand their assets, how they are positioned to deliver against strategy before vast investments are made in their assets, is a growing part of Aurecon’s Advisory work.”
It was Aurecon’s reputation as one of Australia and New Zealand’s (ANZ) most innovative firms in the recent AFR 2017 5th Most Innovative Firm that helped seal the deal for Studio Magnified Directors Dave Mackenzie, Foo Chi “Fooch” Sung and Nic Hamilton.
“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,” Studio Magnified Director, Dave Mackenzie, explained. “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.”
Aurecon’s digital journey
Dr Andrew Maher anticipates that the creation of ‘digital studios’ will be a game changer for engineering and design firms of the future with film, imagery, apps, and installations that bring projects to life through story-telling and creative technology, increasingly a valuable part of their tool sets.
Over the last two years Aurecon has boosted its digitally skilled staff numbers by 58 per cent as the global engineering company continues to diversify its workforce whilst growing its Advisorybusiness. Its core digital team has grown to include Global Digital Leaders, a Digital Futures Team and Digital Practice Leaders across its markets.
“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,” Maher said. “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.”
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.
Aurecon will continue to invest in its future ready capability
For Aurecon, the acquisition represents a continuation of the company’s investment in future-ready digital capability.
- Founding a Regional Centre of Excellence for Digital Engineering in partnership with Singapore’s Economic Development Board to serve as an extension of the company’s Digital Futures team and dedicated to solving client challenges with emerging digital technologies and alternative business models.
- Continually investing in new expertise as part of Aurecon’s core service offering including visualisation, artificial intelligence and machine learning, computational design and software development
- Targeting design automation to take care of repetitive design tasks
- Pursuing machine learning with proof of concept prototypes on how machine learning can be applied to existing and future engineering problems
- Utilising visualisation in 3D design, augmented reality and virtual reality to enhance exploring and communicating engineering designs
- Exploring gaming platforms and interactive user experiences
- Capturing big data in its design and visualisation models