Behind the Build: Interview with Mostafa Saber, BIM & Design Manager at Diamond Developers

Digital technology tools today have changed the face of what it means to be in construction by enabling cloud collaboration, improving workforce productivity and making sustainable practices easy to achieve. 

Diamond Developers, a subsidiary of SEE Holding are driving the digital agenda across the entire lifecycle of a construction project. The company uses adaptive thinking to achieve their greater purpose—sustainable living for all. 

We sat down with Mostafa Saber, BIM & Design Manager at Diamond Developers as he walked us through his career journey, the challenges he faces while modernising and his vision for the future of construction. 

Check out our conversation below! 

Tell me a little about your career journey and what you specialise in. 

I started my career as an architect in my home city, Cairo, Egypt in 2004. By 2007, I was introduced to BIM and started to prefer 3D modelling over 2D. Within five years, I exclusively used Autodesk’s Revit to deliver all my architectural designs. In 2014 I moved to Naga Architects who had a complete team delivering all projects using BIM authoring and coordination tools by Autodesk. I learned a great deal about the whole BIM process there. From then, there was no looking back. 

After Covid, I was with X Architects and I started implementing BIM tools and transitioned to cloud-based collaborative workflows to deliver unique projects for real estate companies like Emaar and Al Futtaim Real Estate Group. Many of these developers right now are mandating BIM & use of CDE in their projects, and that is also following the government legislation and mandates in the region, especially in Dubai. 

From X architects, I moved to Diamond Developers as a Client Representative Design Manager. This is a dual role with involvement both on the technology side managing the BIM implementation, as well as managing the design process for one of our biggest projects we have now with Aldar—the Yas Island. It is a sustainable city and one of the best projects I’ve worked on in terms of sustainability standards. It combines everything I studied theoretically, and I find it very fulfilling to apply that in practice to create a sustainable environment and a community for people.  

We're working now on implementing Autodesk Build during the construction phase along with our partners in the construction phase, JEET, Atkins Réalis and Currie & Brown. 

What is the best thing about working on projects of this scale with the goal of improving sustainability? 

I would say that working on a sustainability-focused project, from an architectural point of view, is not very different from working on a normal construction project. You eventually realise that there are only minor tweaks that you will need to do that will fix things in a more sustainable way. We have our sustainability consultants who open our eyes to sustainable ways of design that architects usually overlook. For example, daylight—a quick daylight analysis could prove that your design doesn’t have enough daylight or has too much glare. Working on the more scientific aspects in design along with focusing on architecture is one of the best parts of the job. From an architectural perspective, you could debate which solution or which option is the best but with the engineering and science behind sustainability studies you can prove, what you're saying is correct, or your design is actually working in certain ways to achieve the right values. 

You'd be surprised to know that you're not allowed to drive vehicles inside the sustainable city. It is completely walkable, keeping vehicular roads on the ring road only. Of course you'll have golf carts and electric cars inside, but the concept itself is new. It's like living on a resort. And people really love the idea of a sustainable city. You feel safe. Your kids also feel safe. It's easier to commute using your bicycle or using an electric car and it is much more sustainable when it comes to mobility. 

I believe that such a change of culture works only when it's supported by a company's leadership and their support in our case has been invaluable throughout this project. We knew that we wanted to provide a more sustainable product for people and questioned why not create something that is completely different from what is available in the market right now. Now, we have this brand building on the success of the first Sustainable City in Dubai. We’ve created our own guidelines and our own energy strategies and ideas we’ve implemented in the design. 

What milestone or project are you most proud of in your career?

I would say I'm mostly proud of the transformation that's happened in the past six months. I joined Diamond Developers in the middle of an ongoing project and the team was working on the review. Since we are the client we’ll need to review the work of others. And this review process didn't have a clear workflow. When I joined, the team was struggling to establish clear lines of responsibility. Everyone juggled many priorities, and there needed to be a clear process timeline. We needed to improve our efficiencies and I'm really proud of the work I've led to change our ways of working.

Today, we store all of our documents in the cloud. This means there's no longer any doubt over where the latest version of a document is or whether we're working from the most up-to-date drawing. We’re able to review the same documents simultaneously by several team members, adding comments by the project architects, interior designer, structure engineers and coordinators together without losing time. And I'm delighted that the first project we trialled these new working methods completed the final design phase in just three months. Now, as we look to the construction phase, there are no worries about missing information or unclear status of approval.

What are some of the areas of challenges you face in your role? How has technology helped you overcome that? 

The biggest challenge I face normally is resistance from people to change and to accept new norms. Once they gauge the benefits and see what they can gain from implementing new technologies, they are usually quick to come around. Convincing people of that is usually my biggest challenge in a new organisation. 

The second thing is always time, of course. And as a developer, we always have tight deadlines to submit new ideas to management, or new partners, and to explore new ventures. I recently used Autodesk’s Forma and FormIt to quickly create initial studies for daylight, wind and microclimate analysis. Generating ideas like this gives me more scope to experiment on how to approach design in a more efficient and sustainable way, that also saves me time. 

What are your plans for the future, especially when it comes to working with Autodesk Build? 

Forma and FormIt are great tools but only one or two people use them in our team. I'd love to see the whole team learning to use these tools to improve our collaboration in the cloud. A big focus for us is upskilling my team to work on 3D models so that we can explore designs together better. 

Autodesk Build is in the pipeline now for implementation. I look forward to seeing the impact it will have on organising our workflows during the construction stage. It will be a new journey that I will support our team through.

What excites you most about the construction industry and what are your thoughts about where it is headed? 

One of the most exciting topics I love is using AI in design. And the idea of using generative design. I know using generative design and design options that are computer generated is not very new at Autodesk but I hadn’t had practical examples to use before. In the past few weeks, I’ve been working with tools like TestFit to explore ideas of how to solve a parking layout, for example, or how to solve a whole new block of apartments or generate a complete layout using AI. With the launch of Autodesk AI, I see that things are moving in a similar direction as well within the company. 

I happened to catch the general session at Autodesk University and saw how Fusion can generate drawings out of 3D models with one click—which is amazing! 

Personally, I have always hated creating working drawings and placing dimensions on them one by one. So I love this idea of creating annotations automatically and designing as efficiently as possible, and let the designers focus on their main task—creativity and not on placing annotations or stuff that a computer can do. So I'm really interested in AI, and how it will revolutionise our industry like it has done for other industries!

Chinmayi Udaybhaskar

Content Marketing Executive for Autodesk Construction Cloud