AEC Excellence Awards 2018

Microscale BIM meets macroscale vision

Image courtesy of Empresa de Desarrollo Urbano

Planners use BIM to improve neighborhood safety in landslide areas

Colombia’s second-largest city, Medellín, is in the Andes Mountains roughly 1,500 meters (4,900 feet) above sea level. And much of the city’s development extends up the sides of the area’s many mountains. Some of that development took place with little or no planning, with neighborhoods forming as people built small dwellings on available pieces of land. Many of these vibrant communities are located in areas with a high risk of dangerous landslides. A public entity, the Empresa Desarrollo Urbano de Medellín (EDU) used BIM (Building Information Modeling) tools in the Architecture, Engineering & Construction Collection to plan safer communities for people living in these areas.

A view of housing along the Medellín mountainside

Keeping the local picture in view

EDU’s approach is called MIB, a micro-scale urban-planning methodology, that makes it a priority to consider micro-scale planning in relation to macro-scale planning. This ensures that people gain access to safer housing, improved transportation, sanitation, and parks. And residents contribute to the planning process.

Image courtesy of Empresa de Desarrollo Urbano

EDU sees BIM as a vehicle for technical design

The EDU team wanted a full-city view showing the communities in relationship to transportation, city services, and parks. They lacked the funds for a manual survey and also needed to create planning and design materials that communities could review.

“MIB takes place at the city level, or macro scale, and the neighborhood level, or micro scale,” says Nicolás Rivillas Hincapié, Assistant Director of Design and Innovation at EDU. “We want to make neighborhoods safer for people and take their opinions into account. Community communication is critical with MIB. We saw BIM technology as a vehicle for technical design and a way to easily create visually clear communications of a complex project.”

A 3D planning map for Medellín

EDU gathered several GIS databases in the city, including those for utilities, transportation, and the city overall. They entered that information, along with orthographic photos, into InfraWorks to create a 3D city map. Using Civil 3D, they created preliminary models of slopes, cuts, fills, and so on.

Image courtesy of Empresa de Desarrollo Urbano

Medellín landscape with overlay

How EDU used Autodesk software

Using InfraWorks, EDU created a 3D model with both existing conditions and proposed site changes. They generated concept models for new parks and transit enhancements in Civil 3D and used Revit to create new housing concepts.

The Revit model intelligence helps evaluate construction and material requirements. This provides early visibility into cost and helps stay on budget. To improve the energy performance for the new housing, the team used Insight to explore the energy implications of design choices. For instance, Insight helped the team choose an energy-efficient orientation for the buildings with respect to the sun.

3D model of the city showing proposed infrastructure changes

Reaching the community with 3D maps and renderings

EDU created a 3D model representing the city, with a detailed project planning area of more than 40,000 sq. ft. to show the community. They also used InfraWorks to share the project’s city-scale implications. Community members could see the project in the context of the entire city and its infrastructure.

Image courtesy of Empresa de Desarrollo Urbano

EDU maximizes information availability

For more detailed reviews of proposed housing, EDU used Navisworks to create 3D fly-throughs of the Revit design models. EDU also used Autodesk Rendering, a cloud-based service, to create photorealistic images of the proposed building and other changes. These renderings captured high-resolution views of what the plan would look like when complete.

EDU shared these visualizations—3D maps, fly-throughs, and renderings—with the community and used them to gather input and comments at events. To maximize information availability, EDU posted project information that included QR codes so community members with smartphones could then scan the codes and easily access project visualizations.

Efficiency wins with thorough planning

As MIB advances, EDU expects work to begin soon on new housing in the affected neighborhoods with the most pressing need. EDU credits its BIM-powered planning process with helping the project move forward faster. The team estimates that the planning process took 45% less time thanks to BIM tools within the AEC Collection, including Civil 3D, InfraWorks, Revit, Navisworks, and Insight software. A model-based approach improved quality as well, with the team estimating that the new housing will be 28% more efficient and constructible.

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