RSP won an international competition to design an extension of Khalifa University, located in Abu Dhabi, back in 2012. The brief called for an extension to the campus for 3,000 students along with the design of the pioneering educational facility.
The firm decided a whole new approach would be needed to solve the complex challenges of a project which would constantly evolve – including the creation of the first bio-medical school in the UAE.
The designers immediately decided to utilise Autodesk Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology to create 3D images of the structure of the building from its very earliest stages. Although not stipulated in the contract for the university, RSP had been using BIM for some time in projects run from its head office in Singapore.
We realised the power of this technology. It is so much more powerful than just a rendering, where you only see part of the scene and you see a very directed angle.
—Ralf Steinhauer, Director,RSP
Meeting the challenges
The complexity of the project required seemless integration throughout the design process, as there were many different factors which needed to be taken into account, including the design aesthetic, the building façade, merchanical, electrial and plumbing (MEP) issues as well as the convenience of the end-users when the facility became operational.
Identification and resolution of areas of conflict before they developed into major concerns was also a primary necessity for the design team.These issues required real-time monitoring, which is not possible using traditional 2D drawings, rendering and plans – only by usiung state-of-the-art software.
The large number of stakeholders involved in the development meant there was also a necessity to update all of them throughout each strage on the development.
BIM provided the solution
The design team quickly grew to understand that, by utilising Autodesk Revit, a seemless co-ordination between all the disciplines could be achieved in a way which had not been previously possible.
This was vital as the brief called for complete flexibility with all the components, particularly the MEP. The company quickly realised this was only possible by utilising Autodesk Revit.
Of particular importance was Navisworks, a programme which allows users to navigate around the 3D models in in real-time and review them.
Frequent design changes in the early design phase were quickly addressed to all stakeholders for feedback and implementation. Examples included coordinating the design requirement of the ceiling height in all areas against the actual MEP ducts and pipes requirements without any last minute compromises. Alongside these issue, complex façades were co-ordinated precisely with other discipline elements without losing any of the original creative design.
Steinhauer explained: “This was when we realised the power of this technology. Very often you have clients who are not very good in three dimensional thinking, so when you can have a walk-through or fly-through you have the opportunity to show them the design and give them options while doing so. It is so much more powerful than just a rendering, where you only see part of the scene and you see a very directed angle.”
We are proud to have had a very successful work history and relationship with Autodesk, which enabled us to design, document and deliver some of the most challenging projects worldwide.
—Michael Magill, Managing Director,RSP
Achieving the right result
All the clashes which were resolved during the design stages with the help of Revit models and Navisworks saved up to 1,000 man hours as the technology enabled the design team to co-ordinate with other specialists, such as the engineering contractors Rambol, to resolve areas of potential conflict.
Compared to traditional CAD methods, with the help of Autodesk BIM tools such as Autodesk Revit and Autodesk Navisworks, RSP was able to save up to 25% of the initial projected time on the total design development and design coordination process, and also up to 30% of time on documenting the design changes for contract set drawings.
Sheik Uduman, BIM and technology leader at RSP, emphasised that the use of the modeling tool had allowed the design language and the aesthetics of the building to be analysed and brought together and there was no possibility of missing any piece of information.
In the design of complex and more MEP centric projects, like Khalifa University, the BIM-MEP co-ordination achieved would be unimaginable within the use of traditional methods, said the architects.
Speaking at the project’s successful conclusion, Managing Director at RSP, Michael Magill, said: “We are proud to have had a very successful work history and relationship with Autodesk, which enabled us to design, document and deliver some of the most challenging projects worldwide.”
The designers were not required to use BIM as a tool on the project, it was a decision taken by the firm. But now RSP says it has become a vital tool for both architects and engineers to understand the complexities of any given project. It is mandatory that BIM is now part of the firm’s deliverables.