Modernizing buildings while preserving history


Share this story


Image courtesy of AECOM and URA

Revitalization for design, construction and operations of Pre-World War buildings

The Urban Renewal Authority (URA) partnered with AECOM to revitalize a cluster of Pre-World War buildings in the busy heart of Hong Kong. This 2019 AEC Excellence Awards winning project leveraged advanced BIM technology powered by the Autodesk AEC Collection to achieve better project collaboration and a scalable facilities operations and maintenance model - setting a new standard for future builds.

A preservation undertaking in the heart of Hong Kong

Urban Renewal Authority (URA) and AECOM, the world’s premier design and engineering firm, teamed up to revitalize a cluster of pre-World War II buildings in Mongkok, one of Hong Kong’s busiest districts.

Known for its buzzing labyrinth of narrow streets, undertaking a redevelopment project in the heart of Mongkok is no small fete. The project teams were challenged to minimize any disruption to the surrounding areas while striking a careful balance between redeveloping and preserving the historic architectural features of the mixed-use veranda-style buildings.

The project also involved a wide range of contractors, which would’ve made the process of reviewing drawings, visualizing outcomes, and reaching a consensus complicated had it not been for BIM technology.

Image courtesy of AECOM and URA.

Revitalization challenges

To kick things off, the team broke up the scope of the project into discrete sections:

  • Project management and collaboration throughout multiple phases of the design and construction building lifecycle
  • Dashboard for streaming and monitoring real-time data from buildings for ongoing operations and maintenance
  • A reproducible model of the dashboard that could be scaled up or down for use across other properties

The final solution needed to address challenges in each of these areas, says Eric Poon, Director – Works and Contract at URA.

First, a centralized way of accessing all relevant project information was important. Given the many project stakeholders, including property managers, engineers, field team, and contractors, “Using BIM across the project lifecycle improved project collaboration and information dissemination as well as decision-making."

Second, the team had to grant access to information selectively to protect proprietary data.

Third, project managers had to evaluate the existing buildings and see how the as-built BIM could integrate with the new building management system for effective facilities management. The team had to retrofit Internet of Things (IoT)-driven, sensor-embedded devices to deliver crucial information such as lighting or CCTV footage for ongoing operations and maintenance.

"Technically, it is very difficult to connect the as-built BIM, building management system, and facilities maintenance together as a centralized platform," Poon says. "And such an integrated showcase has never been done in Hong Kong as a reference."

Fourth, the interactive dashboard would have to relay information in real-time. "Access from everywhere and real-time information are crucial for incident reports, work order issues, status monitoring, etc.,” Poon says.

Finally, the model had to be custom to each building, yet general enough that the team could reuse it in the future for other applications.

Using the AEC Collection

AECOM and URA turned to the AEC Collection from Autodesk, a set of integrated CAD and BIM tools and workflows.

In the design stage, Autodesk Revit and Navisworks were used for BIM authoring and design collaboration. Using these interoperable BIM tools allowed management and other stakeholders to clearly visualize the design and its relationship with the historic elements. This improved the balance between engineering design and historic preservation—shortening the design approval time from a few months to one month.

During pre-construction, BIM accurately replicated the as-built environment. This ensured the contractor understood the construction detail and provided accurate work estimates and allowed for review of the building services and smart sensor installation requirements. Clashes were avoided and maintenance space was preserved, which was critical given the constraints of this unique conservation project.

In the operations and maintenance stage, AECOM used Autodesk Forge as the core technology to create a centralized BIM Facilities & Maintenance (FM) platform. The platform integrates the as-built BIM and the BMS data from the smart sensors installed on-site.

Image courtesy of AECOM and URA.

Improved project collaboration

Overall, leveraging BIM enabled better project collaboration, information sharing and decision-making across the project lifecycle.

BIM connected and facilitated collaboration and shortened the construction period by providing accurate and dependable information to contractors.

Revit and Navisworks helped facilitate easy interdisciplinary review, especially for MEP coordination. The BIM workflow improved collaboration and coordination inside of the 3D visualized environment and allowed the engineers to identify any potential clash detections for immediate design coordination.

Adopting BIM and going paperless led to a more environmentally sustainable way of working.

Efficient operations and maintenance

The BIM-FM centralized platform now serves as a one stop solution for ongoing operations and maintenance.

All stakeholders are on the same page, thanks to the transparency of the centralized facilities management information. "When field officers report a change problem, the request can be immediately shown on the dashboard. This ensures that the engineer, the field team and the contractors are receiving the same latest information," Thomson Lai – Digital Transformation Lead, Greater China at AECOM says. "Improved transparency of information, such as the quantity of the equipment and frequency of incidents, also facilitates decision-making."

Image courtesy of AECOM and URA.

Data for work orders can be retrieved right away instead of waiting for manual procedures. "A work order can be completed and shortened from more than a week to only a few days.”

“The as-built BIM, the centralized BIM FM platform and the Autodesk AEC Collection together dramatically reduce the operating cost and maintenance effort in a sustainable way by minimizing travel related to site visits and decreasing energy use. It also optimizes building performance of the assets by providing predictive analysis showing costs and savings of planned facility improvements,” Lai adds.

“The as-built BIM, the centralized BIM FM platform and the Autodesk AEC Collection together dramatically reduce the operating cost and maintenance effort in a sustainable way by minimizing travel related to site visits and decreasing energy use.”

Thomson Lai, Digital Transformation Lead, AECOM

Future builds

The URA expects to integrate the centralized BIM-FM platform developed in Mongkok with all other in-house projects for seamless centralized facilities management. “Since it is a cloud-based solution, it offers expandable and easily reproduced versions of the current environment to address the tremendous increase of interest from the smart [buildings] community," Poon says. He anticipates that smart IoT and smart buildings will drive facilities management in the future and that Autodesk will be right there to help.

“Championing the use of new technology, building smart buildings, and promoting smart living while using advanced Autodesk BIM technologies are gamechangers. The use of advanced Autodesk BIM technologies in this project [successfully helped us] in achieving our objective."

Image courtesy of AECOM and URA.

This project was a 2019 AEC Excellence Awards winner in the Building Design category. The Autodesk AEC Excellence Awards celebrate the people, projects, and technologies behind the world's best in architecture, engineering, and construction