AEC Excellence Awards 2018

Modular design with BIM drives massive expansion of hospital

rendering of construction site

Nordic—Office of Architecture and COWI use DFMA approach to construction

An expansion of Norway’s Stavanger University Hospital posed unique challenges for Nordic—Office of Architecture. Design requirements for the project’s 650 rooms and 100,000 square meters of floor space included an emphasis on using natural light and connecting to nature.

Image courtesy of Nordic Office Of Architecture

High degree of standardization

The hospital also wanted a high degree of standardization in building elements to enable flexibility, patient safety, and adaptability. Finally, the project team—comprising two architecture firms, two structural-engineering firms, MEP teams, and specialist consultants for fire and acoustic—were spread across Norway, so efficient communication and collaboration was essential.

Building the project on time

To build the project on time, on budget, and to the hospital’s design requirements, Nordic, working in collaboration with COWI consulting group, needed to take a more modular approach to design and construction. Specific project goals included eliminating workflow redundancies and incorporating automation; improving collaboration and information sharing across disciplines; and ensuring an information-rich, modularized approach across the project lifecycle. To simplify workflows and keep the large project team in sync, Nordic needed the right digital collaboration and modeling tools. Nordic also adopted a design for manufacture and assembly (DFMA) approach to the project, reducing the time needed to design building modules and identify and resolve design clashes.

image of software

Using BIM across the board

For the Stavanger project, Nordic took a cross-disciplinary BIM (Building Information Modeling) approach, with at least one BIM-savvy member per discipline for various elements. MEP engineers wrote a Dynamo Studio script for better coordination and control from within the project environment.

Image courtesy of Nordic Office Of Architecture

BIM enables collaboration

In the early phases of the project, stakeholders relied on a 3D model and cloud rendering from Autodesk software—including Revit building design software—for daily team meetings, project management, and design work. The ability to view and collaborate in the Revit model has improved communication and collaboration, data management, and cross-disciplinary workflows. Area and room layout, furniture, and functional information can be edited right in the intelligent model. Using virtual reality, the hospital can do extensive virtual walkthroughs of the model.

Ensuring the quality of construction sequencing

BIM has also enabled wind analysis to prevent wind-tunnel effects in the finished project’s central courtyard, as well as daylight and shade analysis to ensure the inclusion of the right types of glass in the facade. In the current project stage, Nordic is using tools such as a Dynamo Studio-scripted coordination tool and BIM Collaborate to gain visibility into, streamline, and ensure the quality of construction sequencing, including the delivery schedule of modules fabricated off-site.

rendering of hospital

DFMA approach helps with module prefabrication

Nordic’s approach has enabled an exemplary level of quality-assured modularization using BIM. Cross-disciplinary teams collaborate more effectively and efficiently on modules, delivering all the information needed to price and fabricate modules and complete construction in the intelligent model.

Image courtesy of Nordic Office of Architecture

Nordic includes 50,000 square meters of prefabricated facade

The DFMA approach has resulted in immense benefits. For instance, the engineering team could place fixtures and devices for a whole floor in just days instead of weeks. It also gave facade architects the ability to control a complex, nested family of facade-panel parts. They could easily swap in and out facade panels made of multiple materials—capturing each design iteration while meeting required parameters such as glass types, panel sizes, and window inclusion and color. Among the results: Facade architects have been able to include approximately 50,000 square meters (more than 500,000 square feet) of prefabricated facade in their design.

Optimizing design and building—today and tomorrow

By using BIM to drive a DFMA approach, Nordic was able to focus its efforts and spend more time designing high-quality modules and less time coordinating, controlling, and modeling vast amounts of repeating geometry. The team could also simplify the identification and resolution of design clashes. The project’s focus on prefabricated modules will result in efficient construction on site, less material waste, and a reduction in costly errors. While much of the time saved has been filled by getting up to speed on its modular, BIM-driven approach, Nordic and COWI expect similar time savings on future projects using this approach.

Nordic currently testing a cloud-based tool

Finally, on this project, Nordic is currently testing a cloud-based tool, designed by Project Frog—a provider of integrated project platforms—in collaboration with Autodesk, which will provide an online library of parts and module configurations. Nordic expects that the tool will further minimize waste on-site.

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