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Architects harness collaborative BIM for social housing project

Seán Harrington Architects used Vectorworks Project Sharing to exchange data on the design of an apartments complex in Tallaght, south Dublin

In association with
The Whitestown Way development shown from the south. It offers 81 dwellings in small clusters organised along an east-to-west street.
The Whitestown Way development shown from the south. It offers 81 dwellings in small clusters organised along an east-to-west street. Credit: Seán Harrington Architects

When Seán Harrington Architects were commissioned to design a complex of social housing apartments for Clúid Housing in Tallaght, south Dublin they looked to BIM to organise the project, reduce file sizes and collaborate effectively.

The brief was to create an inviting and appealing facility to serve as a best-practice exemplar for similar developments throughout the county. 

The site, adjacent to Whitestown Way, was challenging. To the north sits Tallaght Stadium and a densely arranged urban presence. To the south are low-scale suburbia, a park and the picturesque Dublin Mountains. The disparity in the surroundings led the architects to consider how to develop a housing complex that would feel like a natural mediator between its northern and southern aspects.

The stadium offered a good starting point, demanding a 'strong edge' to the north to minimise exposure for the community. The buildings are set back from this edge to reduce noise disruptions. The northern entrances are defined by a canopy shelter and each entrance sits close to parking space and dedicated bin storage.

The southern boundary varies in height and alignment, leading to an open interface with the external park. The complex is arranged around a series of south-facing courtyards, providing open space for the residents to enjoy suburbia despite the proximity to the bustling north.

Within the village, the 81 dwellings - which exist in small clusters - are organised along an east-to-west street. The street fosters a larger sense of community while also allowing smaller communities for the residents to identify with. As a connected whole, the design elements create a high-quality living environment that feels natural despite the varying conditions around it.  

Site analysis.
Site analysis. Credit: Seán Harrington Architects

'A BIM model is the digital description of every aspect of the built asset,' explains Shane Byrne of Seán Harrington Architects. To use it, the firm took advantage of Vectorworks’ Project Sharing capabilities, engaging in an open exchange of data through BIM’s common denominator IFC.

BIM has the potential to optimise the delivery of design services, improving outcomes and adding value for clients. It can be used as a tool for carrying out analysis, simulation and communication of project information.

According to Byrne, BIM did help reduce file sizes on the project, but he believes there were ways they could have made files even smaller.

'We created a large number of viewports in our main building model file of repeating elements, which resulted in a complex road map for the drawing,' he said. 'In retrospect, it would’ve been simpler if we had created fewer viewports, used more symbols for apartment layouts or drawn more repeating elements.'

The most rewarding aspect of BIM for the team was the way it enabled an iterative design approach. As the client and stakeholders requested changes, the architects could quickly and easily update the BIM model and have the update reflected across all of their drawings and worksheets.

Site plan.
Site plan. Credit: Seán Harrington Architects

Seán Harrington Architects is an award-winning Irish architecture firm that specialises in public buildings and residential projects. They operate on three fundamental philosophies: to design sustainably, to make better places and to celebrate craftsmanship.

To find out about the latest innovations to version 2021 of Vectorworks and share industry perspective in challenging times, register for the Vectorworks Design Day on 6 October 2020

For more information and technical support, visit vectorworks.net

 

Contact:

01635 580318  

uksales@vectorworks.net


 

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