Semantic web technologies in AEC industry: a literature review

Pieter Pauwels, Sijie Zhang, Yong-Cheol Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

348 Citations (Scopus)
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Over the recent years, the usage of semantic web technologies has notably increased in the domains of architecture, engineering and construction (AEC). These technologies are typically considered as complementary to existing and often used Building Information Modelling (BIM) software. The usage of these technologies in the AEC domains is thereby motivated by (1) a desire to overcome the interoperability issue among software tools used in diverse disciplines, or at least improve information exchange processes; (2) a desire to connect to various domains of application that have opportunities to identify untapped valuable resources closely linked to the information already obtained in the AEC domains; and/or (3) a desire to exploit the logical basis of these technologies, which is currently undisclosed in the AEC domains. Through an extensive literature study and survey, this article investigates the development and application progress of semantic web technologies in the AEC domains in accordance with these three primary perspectives. These examinations and analyses provide a complete strategical map that can serve as a robust stepping stone for future research regarding the application of semantic web technologies in the AEC domains. Results show that semantic web technologies have a key role to play in logic-based applications and applications that require information from multiple application areas (e.g. BIM+Infra+GIS+Energy). Notwithstanding fast developments and hard work, challenging research opportunities are situated in (1) the creation and maintenance of the links between the various data sets and in (2) devising beneficial implementation approaches that rely on appropriate combinations of declarative and procedural programming techniques, semantic and legacy data formats, user input, and automated procedures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-165
Number of pages21
JournalAutomation in Construction
Issue numberC
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

wos:id to be confirmed ugent:id 7105781 ugent:classification A1


  • Building Information Modeling (BIM)
  • Industry Foundation Classes (IFC)
  • Information technology
  • Interoperability
  • Linked data
  • Reasoning
  • Resource Description Framework (RDF)
  • Rule checking
  • Semantic web
  • Web Ontology Langauge (OWL)


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