A development at the Royal Docks in Newham has allowed Assael Architecture to harness 3D, create BIM execution plans and co-ordinate an open BIM workflow process
Assael Architecture is an award-winning practice comprising several teams, directors, associate directors and managers. With over 20 years' expertise in the design of mixed-use, residential-led developments in large urban areas, the company works on several projects at a time, with many at different stages of the design process. One of these projects, Pontoon Dock in the London Borough of Newham, is the practice's first to be delivered using Building Information Modelling (BIM) Level 2 from the outset.
A joint venture between Linkcity, the Grainger Trust and the Greater London Authority, which owns the land, Pontoon Dock has been developed to relieve pressure on the capital’s housing market. The landmark 'build to rent' development comprises three buildings with heights ranging between five and 14 storeys, with 154 private rented apartments and 82 affordable homes. The buildings will form a new gateway to the Thames Barrier Park.
The project allowed Assael to put its BIM planning and co-ordination into practice. 'We worked well with the other two main consultants in Level 2: the mechanical engineers and the structural engineers,' says Ben Lam, associate and BIM manager at the practice. 'Although it was difficult at first, it was refined as time went on. We were all learning the process: the other consultants have been using Revit and we've been using Vectorworks. The level of exchanging Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) data was a challenge at times because with any mass exchange of models and information you can run into issues if portions are inaccurate or missing... Luckily, with the quality of Vectorworks IFC, we managed to fine-tune this process to be as efficient as possible as the project developed.'
Assael was committed to constant communication to ensure all parties were aware of the project status. 'We spent a lot of time getting the model right and not just concentrating on 2D information, even though the contractors and consultants rely heavily on 2D data,' explains Lam.
To meet the BIM Level 2 mandate, Assael had its own workflow adjustments to absorb. According to Lam, Vectorworks played a big role in this transition. 'Our team members have come to realise they're creating BIM models without having to dramatically change the way they work. They're starting to see the benefit of generating a proper model to obtain 2D information and how effective that can be to streamline work and complete projects.'
Moving completely to BIM also transformed the firm’s design process overall. 'In four to five years, projects that go from initial capacity study through to planning are now done as BIM models - they are becoming second nature,' says Lam. 'Everyone uses the 3D aspect much more than they used to. They have become more proficient in using 3D as part of the BIM process.'
For Assael Architecture, the switch to BIM Level 2 compliance has been very effective, allowing it to fully utilise 3D, create a BIM execution plan and learn how to successfully conduct an open BIM workflow process with engineers.
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