Collaborating for Success on a brand-new Exhibition Hall and Conference Centre in Bruges

Operating in Belgium for more than 140 years, MBG puts innovation, quality, and flexibility at the heart of their delivery. They have been delivering successful construction projects as far back as 1880, where they were involved in the delivery of new rail and tram lines across Belgium. Since then, their operations have grown to support the delivery of major infrastructure projects in residential, healthcare, office, and retail markets.

Delivering Excellence for a Unique Design-Build Project

Nelis Van Loock BIM Manager for MBG, was tasked with ensuring one of MBG’s most high-profile projects was set up for success from the beginning. The construction of the Beursplein and Congresgebouw for the City of Bruges is a major project in the famous historical city which will deliver a brand-new exhibition hall and conference centre. Designed by renowned Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura, recipient of the coveted Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2011, the new space is both urban and neighbourhood orientated.

The 4,480 square-metre hall will serve as a space for exhibitions, conferences, trade fairs, concerts, and other events. The design allows for the space to open up into a public square and has a rich environmental design – recycled brick lamellas will make up the building's front elevation. In addition to an auditorium, dining area, and reconfigurable meeting rooms, the building will also play host to a terrace that provides elevated views over the Bruges skyline.

Opening in January 2022, the new site will preserve the famous beech trees that have typified the Beursplein for many decades. To emphasise the public character of the covered square, the entire building will rest on a glass pedestal with metal frames and fixtures, which will also enhance the transparency of the ground floor.

A Technology Solution that Improves Collaboration and Enables Transparent Communication

Nelis needed to find a technology solution that enables several collaborators and contributors to work in one common data environment and work together effectively. The project was set up in a collaborative way from the very beginning –the main contractor, the designers, subcontractors, and supply chain partners were brought together from the outset to improve delivery.

Nelis called on the help of Arkance Systems to explore the best technology solution to suit the needs of the project. “BIM 360 was the best solution for us as it can be used as an effective communication platform for everyone working on the project,” says Nelis. “We’re working with a number of supply chain partners, and we also wanted to be able to give our customers access to the systems we’re using. BIM 360 does all this and more.”

Arkance Systems worked with Nelis to localise the onboarding process for the project team so that they could get up to speed with using BIM 360 within Autodesk Construction Cloud easily. “It’s really important that the team feel confident using the software and localising training and use documents and guidance really helped to do this,” says Anthony Kennes, Arkance Systems project lead.

Waving Goodbye to Emails in Operating Everything from One Platform

The project team use BIM 360 to mark-up drawings, store documentation, and log and resolve issues. “Issues are logged in BIM 360 and assigned to an owner,” says Nelis. “Everyone working on the project can see the progress made against a certain issue which provides a layer of trust and accountability for all involved. It’s truly a collaborative effort."

The team also use BIM 360 to communicate with each other about the project rather than emailing drawings and comments back and forth. This has saved hours of time for the project team – rather than waiting for an email response to match up to project documentation, collaborators can see an update in real-time. New colleagues joining the project are able to use BIM 360 to get up to speed with the progress on the project as well as find any historical data related to issues and delivery. This helps to ensure strong collaboration across the teams.

Improving Collaboration Leads to Time Savings

Not only does the platform allow the project team to collaborate more effectively, it’s also led to time savings in certain areas. “The subcontractors working on the build have estimated that they’ve been able to make time savings of around 10% through clash detection; they’ve also noted that project delivery and execution has been a lot smoother too,” says Nelis. Improving communication on the project also helped in identifying errors before the team got onsite meaning that delivery wouldn’t be delayed and the team could re-prioritise easily.

Even with the Covid-19 pandemic impacting construction all around the world, the team has found that the delays they’ve experienced have been negligent to the overall delivery of the state-of-the-art exhibition hall and conference centre. “At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, there were some delays related to the availability of materials, however we’ve been able to integrate social distancing into our delivery without impacting the project in a detrimental way,” says Nelis.

Embedding BIM 360 on More Projects

MBG has grown their use of BIM 360 to around 80% of their current portfolio of design-build projects. “We’re slowly introducing it on most of our projects as the feedback from our colleagues using the technology has been so positive. They really like that it’s easy to navigate and use; provides a visual representation of the project; as well as up-to-date information in one place,” remarks Nelis.


Erik Bank