Since the early 2000s, when we were first commissioned to work on the pilot scheme for the design of the new Tottenham Court Road Underground station and proposed Crossrail line, the practice has been a strong advocate of the benefits of design coordination using a 3D platform. We have invested heavily in training, and the majority of our CAD staff are proficient in the use of Revit, Bentley Structural 3D and AECOsim Building Designer V8i.
We are currently actively engaged in a number of Government-funded projects both in the UK and abroad, where the use of BIM is at the heart of the design process. These include the vast Francis Crick Institute in Central London and the new Gardermoen Airport in Oslo, Norway, where we have embraced the use of BIM to ensure that the design generated by the various disciplines is fully integrated using a 3D platform.
At the White Collar Factory in Old Street, coordination of services has been crucial, developing a cost-effective system through a simple passive cooling system involving chilled water running through pipes embedded in the floor slabs. Our integrated approach allowed rationalisation of the services across the entire design package.
In the case of Rathbone Square, the site of the former West End Delivery Office, both architectural and structural models were crucial in reaching a compromise which combined aesthetic and functional requirements. The use of a BIM model helped to predict and reduce construction waste, which was of great importance given the emphasis placed on sustainability on this project.
Common to these projects is the use of an effective system of file and data transfer. IFC and DWG files are produced by AKT II, using Bentley Structural V8i, and issued to the ‘Model Manager’ for inclusion into a single integrated project model that can then be reviewed, all using Model Viewing Software (NavisWorks).
For projects which are particularly intricate in terms of their geometry, our in-house applied research team uses several specialist programmes, including Rhino and Grasshopper, to produce models. These aid the design process, delivering an end product which is both more buildable and economical.
In a joint research project with Tyréns UK and Gas Dynamics, the Bioclimatic Design Toolkit was developed to investigate thermal and wind comfort for external spaces on a pedestrian level. It accurately simulates the physical behaviour of temperature and wind in an outdoor space, enabling the analysis of 3D urban environment models through a software workflow comprising proprietary AKT II software, and using the established Rhino and Grasshopper platforms for modelling and visualisation.