The three Vitruvian virtues

Nicolas Waern
4 min readNov 19, 2021


The three Vitruvian virtues are universally applicable to any solution, any product out there in whatever industry there is. These three simple virtues is what made Apple to what it is today and it will be ever more present in the Building Automation industry as well as other “traditional” industries out there today. Why? Read and find out.

Firmitas, Utilitas, Venustas

Those are the three Vitruvian virtues that were originally meant for buildings. Coined by the legendary architect and world builder Vitruvius some thousands of years ago in ancient Rome. A building has to live up to three basic core tenants. A building has to be robust and pass the test of time. That’s probably why buildings of that era are still standing today. They were built to last. They have to be useful, fit for purpose. A hospital is different to a school and a school is equally different to a library, and… the list goes on.

What will the people be doing inside the building? How many of them are there? In what ways will they interact and how can a building be built in order to support, and enhance their respective roles?

“Does that sound like something we talk about today? A product has to be useful, no doubt about it. But also robust and attractive.”

And last, but definitely not least, is Venustas. A building has to be robust and useful, but also pleasing to the eye and attractive enough in order for people to engage with it. Think about it, how often have their been solutions out there that do the job better than anything else out there, but they won’t catch on. And the opposite, how often are we drawn to attractive and exciting solutions to realize that they don’t live up to the hype? They are simply not useful or robust.

When you think about this from a building perspective and focus on the solutions that a building consists of, you’ll see that there are things to be done.

Breaking it down and building it up

  1. Robust back then probably meant that it should pass the test of time and to be everything but modular. Today, I would argue, that a building has to be able to adapt to its users, to be open, flexible, and that is the true testament on how to pass the test of time. Robust = Modular. It has to be a mix of an overlying protocol such as BACnet to provide the robustness needed, but also flexible enough to cater to the modularity needed in order to pass the test of time. I think BACnet/WS, BACnet/SC and BACnet/IT as well as has a huge role in this area, connecting the new with the old, smoothening the ride towards cognitive buildings.
  2. The usefulness must be tailored to the many roles and masks the users wear in a building. This is of course a daunting task but a building, and even more importantly, the solutions which a building consists of, have to be useful in themselves. Solutions have to be useful for system integrators, owners, users, guests as well as for other solutions in the building. The only way that will happen is through open standards, service transparency and digital twins. The core tenants of #ND4B a new deal for buildings
  3. The venustas part is perhaps the most interesting one and also allusive one in this traditional business. A building can be both useful and robust, but the emotions it will evoke in a person, if it is not attractive, will not be very pleasant. Again, we have seen it with the NEST, in that making something beautiful and attractive will make it win more ground. We have seen it with Apple products. And we will see it even more with all products going into a building and even more so with ones which end users connect to. Demand-controlled ventilation is one where more focus is placed on creating a dynamic experience for the users, and I know that SWEGON here in Sweden are doing great things in this area, proving that wireless = reliable using mesh technology from Lumen Radio.

We need to make things more attractive

The future has to be in making things more attractive for any user involved in creating better buildings of tomorrow. Venustas. Changing the way we think about buildings, making them more attractive and useful, focusing more on the well-being aspects, that’s where we want to see more things happening. But at the same time, doing this at scale, in robust and useful ways, requires roots that are firm and strategically placed in order to get the juiciest fruit in the long run. Wireless is by no means the answer to everything but it is growing and it will take a bigger place moving forwards.

And that is why this industry is so fun to be in. It always depends and there’s no silver bullet.

Nicolas Waern

Nicolas Waern is the CEO, Strategy & Innovation Leader, and a Digital Twin Evangelist at the consulting firm WINNIIO. He is a firm believer that the Real Estate Industry needs more of a lifecycle focus where we need to go Beyond Buildings and come back with an understanding what tools and technology we could use. And to solve the jobs to be done, together, with an open mindset.

Nicolas is working with leaders in several industries to understand how they can succeed in the age of AI. Predicting what the world will do in a week, a month, a year from now and to best utilize strategies and solutions that pass the test of time. He does this through a Digitalization- on Demand approach for anyone that needs to change before they have to.

Nicolas is a Podcast Creator & Newsletter Editor for Beyond Buildings
Thought Leader regarding Smart Buildings & Building Automation for AutomatedBuildings
Speaker and Influencer Event Streaming Platforms as the Holy Grail for Industry 4.0 Applications
Subject Matter Expert Real Estate Digitalization Proptech Digitalization Expert
Active Member of Digital Twin working groups Digital Twin Subject Matter Expert



Nicolas Waern

It took me 37 years to create an approach to solve all the challenges in the world. Now I’ll spend the rest of my life to get it done. Are you with me?