The central hospital in Vaasa, a city on the west coast of Finland, is getting a new main building. Simply called the H building, it is the heart of the hospital campus, housing the main entrance. The ten-story building will have an area of roughly 37 000 square meters. It will contain clinics and wards in primary health care, specialist nursing, and social care. The plan is to create a modern, high-quality and future-ready medical center offering the best care quality in Finland.
Founders Arkadiy Serezhkin and Ismail Ahmad have developed a proprietary approach to solving engineering challenges using artificial intelligence (AI).
The building is largely constructed from scratch. It sits at the center of the hospital campus, making construction particularly challenging: work needs to be conducted in a way that does not disrupt the healthcare services in other buildings. The tender was conducted in 2017. Construction work began in 2018 and will be completed in 2022.
The head designer of the project is Raami Architects, one of the leading hospital designers in Finland. Raami Architects started as a three-person firm in 2000 and has grown to over 30 employees. In addition to healthcare commissions, they design daycare centers, offices, industrial buildings, as well as residences and urban areas. The company is known for its user-centric approach and for being open to technical innovations and new ways of working.
Rendering of drone designed in Fusion 360 using generative design. Image courtesy of VOLVE.
The Vaasa central hospital project is implemented through the alliance contracting model, which is becoming increasingly common in Finland for large construction projects. The setup means that the key parties (the client and the main contractors) create a separate legal entity and assume joint responsibility for the project, sharing in the risks and rewards. The parties openly share information among themselves, including project costs and other financials. Alliances are usually formed at an early stage of the project (rather than bringing in the parties when their services are needed). The idea behind this form of contracting is to ensure all parties’ interests are aligned and to improve project outcomes.
Raami Architects formed an alliance with five other parties for this project: Architects Kontukoski; Granlund – a company specializing in mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering, and hospital equipment; Ramboll – the structural engineering and BIM specialists; YIT – the building contractors; and the hospital itself. The companies formed the alliance before the tender and prepared their bid together (the hospital joined the winning team after the tender). They called themselves the Bothnia High 5 Alliance and became the first alliance project in the Ostrobothnia region in Finland. The alliance is responsible for the design and construction of the new hospital building.
"We estimate that due to faster synchronization times and no data corruption issues, we save about five working days per month. This alone offsets the price of BIM Collaborate Pro several times over."
— Teija Peltoharju, BIM manager, Raami Architects
Like any architecture firm, Raami Architects need to share their work with many different parties involved in projects, as well as among many colleagues internally. Before switching to BIM Collaborate Pro, they used a number of tools for that.
- Internally, Raami Architects kept the projects’ BIM models on their server, which colleagues accessed as needed.
- Raami Architects often works together with other architecture firms. On the Vaasa hospital project, they partnered with Architects Kontukoski, who are also part of the alliance. For such close partners, Raami gave access to their BIM models via a VPN connection.
- For other partners and customers working together on projects, Raami Architects would export and share the BIM model in the IFC format and 2D drawings in PDF and DWG formats.
For internal sharing and sharing with close partners, the server and VPN connection was sometimes slow; sometimes, the central model would not be accessible for a while. There were also data corruption issues.
For sharing with external parties, the exported model often did not have the latest comments or changes by the time it was discussed. The parties also had to share 2D drawings, even if all the other designers in the project were using 3D, because there was no way to share a 3D model in real time. Using drawings made it much more difficult to visualize the space.
Given these challenges, the firm was excited to try BIM Collaborate Pro when it came out. They ran a small trial and, convinced by the success, decided to start using the software. Raami Architects picked the Vaasa hospital project as the first one to use BIM Collaborate Pro.
“It was very easy to start using BIM Collaborate Pro because we had already been using Revit before,” says Teija Peltoharju, BIM manager at Raami Architects. “It was an easy switch to make. It took two hours to transition. We just created the models in the cloud server and then continued working as before”.
"We wanted the model to be the single source of truth, the backbone of discussions and decisions."
--Max Levander, BIM coordinator of the alliance
“The biggest change for us was that the model was stable,” says Peltoharju. “We used to have data corruption problems, and every time it took at least one hour to fix the model. With BIM Collaborate Pro, the model is never corrupted, and sync times are much shorter.”
Raami Architects calculated how much time it now takes for the model to update. They compared it to the old situation where they used to host the model on their server, and their partners accessed it via a VPN connection:
The second big change from using BIM Collaborate Pro was a much easier way of working together with different parties. All firms within the Bothnia High 5 Alliance had decided to use the software in the project. Max Levander, BIM coordinator of the alliance, explains, “One key consideration was that the BIM model should be accessible by people who don’t have BIM design software (e.g., hospital administrators). In an alliance, everyone needs to have access to the same information. We wanted the model to be the single source of truth, the backbone of discussions and decisions. It is only possible if everyone has access to the model.”
“Using BIM Collaborate Pro is a much faster way to collaborate and helps everyone visualize the space, and avoid mistakes,” says Kaisa Härkönen, project architect at Raami. Härkönen and her colleagues can now work together with other specialists as one team, even though they are based in different locations and belong to different companies. “We link all the models together,” explains Härkönen, “and other designers and specialists use our model as a reference. If the electrical engineer checks for lights, he can see where the walls and ceilings are and see the latest status in close to real time. If we make changes, they see it, and the same goes for us. If the designers put some equipment in the room, we can see how to place the furniture. Especially in hospital projects, it’s all about cooperation. The rules are so rigid and technical; it’s like a puzzle. It is a lot easier to solve the puzzle if you have up-to-date models linked together,” says Härkönen.
Several months after Raami started using BIM Collaborate Pro in the Vaasa hospital project, Finland went into lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Company employees had to start working from home. The firm quickly moved most projects to BIM Collaborate Pro. “It was a huge change, but we managed to do it in just three days,” says Peltoharju. Because the firm was already using BIM Collaborate Pro, the transition to remote working was smooth, and they were able to continue work on all their projects despite the lockdown.
Raami Architects now uses BIM Collaborate Pro for all their projects. In the Vaasa hospital project, the Bothnia High 5 Alliance plans to continue using the BIM model on site even after the project has been delivered. The model will be mainly used for maintenance: for example, if a wall needs to be repainted, the database linked to the model will show which paint was used.