CU Jan-Feb 2020


CAD User


VOL 33 NO 01



Showcasing the winning UK entrant in the

Vectorworks Student Design Scholarship

Digital Twins

Double trouble or the

Holy Grail of digital estates?

Remodelling King's Cross

3D Repo provides access to the thousands of

CAD files created in redeveloping King's Cross

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Thomas Mahon of Bimorph Digital Engineering

explains the use of GenerativeComponents to

calculate the mathematics behind The Macallan

Distillery's distinctive and complex new roof


Marina Georgieva's winning UK entry in the

architecture category of the Vectorworks Student

Design Scholarship for 2019 combined a design

concept influenced by nature supported by solid

structural design, writes David Chadwick


How do you define an enterprise resource

planning system? EasyBuild, winners of the ERP

Solution of the Year award at the 2019

Construction Computing Awards, provide an

insight into the requirements of such a solution


Stuart Bell, Sales & Marketing Director at

GroupBC considers whether digital twins mean

double trouble - or are they in fact the Holy

Grail of digital estates?

NEWS................................................INDUSTRY NEWS....................................................................................................6


INDUSTRY NEWS.............................IN MEMORY OF TONY RYAN................................................................................15


CASE STUDY....................................REMODELLING KING'S CROSS STATION..........................................................16


CASE STUDY....................................MIX AND MATCH..................................................................................................18


SOFTWARE FOCUS.........................BENTLEY OPENBUILDINGS DESIGNER.............................................................20


CASE STUDY....................................BIM TECHNOLOGY FOR AURA APART...............................................................22


INDUSTRY FOCUS...........................BIM ON THE BUILDING SITE...............................................................................24


EVENT PREVIEW..............................FUTUREBUILD 2020.............................................................................................26


TRAINING MAP.................................AUTODESK TRAINING..........................................................................................32


SOFTWARE FOCUS.........................UNDER THE SURFACE........................................................................................34


January/February 2020 3



David Chadwick


News Editor:

Mark Lyward


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Josh Boulton


Production Manager:

Abby Penn



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or any resulting effects


It's all coming together

by David Chadwick

It's a relief that we don't have to

(t)witter on about Brexit anymore.

Nothing has exactly been decided yet,

but I get the feeling that it's all in Boris'

hands now, and he’s going to sink or

swim with it. The relief is that we can get

back to discussing the finer points of

architectural design and construction,

which have been going on apace, but

which have been overlooked in the

turmoil of the last couple of years.

So, in this issue we have a feature on

Bentley's OpenBuildings Designer, not

the latest in their series of 'Open'

applications, but surely the most

significant of the lot. It was released in

the second quarter of last year, and we

have already featured Bentley's other

integrated applications in the same genre

– OpenRoads, OpenRail, covered earlier,

OpenSite Designer and OpenFlows.

OpenBuildings Designer brings together

all the major elements of a construction

project such as structural, MEP,

electrical, building design tools –

including GenerativeComponents and

building performance – accompanied by

the whole range of supporting software to

handle documentation, media, rendering,

data sharing and so on, and all under the

aegis of Bentley's ProjectWise.

That's accompanied by a case study

from 3D Repo which details the work

involved in putting together a

collaboration scenario which combines

over 3,500 CAD documents to enable

real-time access for architects, planners

and managers involved in the ongoing

development of Kings Cross station and

its rail infrastructure.

We also have a case study from Bentley

that explores the use of

GenerativeComponents to design the

roof of Macallan's distillery in Scotland (I

really feel this story should have entailed

a site visit instead of being the focus of a

workgroup at Bentley's London offices!).

GenerativeComponents, of course,

combines mathematical algorithms within

the design process to evaluate variations

of a design issue to enable architects to

select the one that most accurately

reflects the brief.

Elsewhere in this issue we look at the

use of Graphisoft's ARCHICAD and its

reliance on BIM in a hotel project in the

Ukraine that won International plaudits in

London last year, and a concrete

example of the issues that Tekla

mastered in a project at Canary Wharf

that combined poured concrete with

prefabricated slabs. Both of them good,

solid, examples of BIM and modern

construction methods in practice.

All of this is neatly rounded off by the

design project that won the UK element

of the 2019 Vectorworks Design

Scholarship. I have included it to

illustrate the depth of imagination and

creativity that the competition generates,

and to demonstrate that there are some

exceptionally talented students currently

progressing through the education

system – which certainly bodes well for

the future of the industry. As one of the

UK judges I am always impressed by the

broad range of nationalities of the

entrants – a testament I think to the

international regard that our universities

have in such courses.

4 January/February 2020




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Advances in technology for

observing the earth from

space have resulted in the formation

of a new company

which will bring a range of innovative

satellite intelligence and

data services to market. 4 Earth

Intelligence (4EI) has pioneered

the use of satellite data for

smart monitoring and analysis

creating city, region and countrywide

data solutions for applications

such as air quality,

asset management, ecology

and urban heat monitoring.

With offices in Bristol, UK and

in Abu Dhabi, UAE, 4 Earth

Intelligence has been established

to focus on new sectors

and technical innovations using

machine learning and Artificial

Intelligence to provide smart

data - in particular for global

environmental applications.

With several flagship projects

already completed around the


Transoft Solutions has

acquired Brisk Synergies,

the leader in automated road

safety analysis headquartered

in Waterloo, Ontario.

Brisk Synergies' BriskVAN-

TAGE and BriskLUMINA software

platforms apply continuous

deep learning analytics

on traffic video to help assist

transportation professionals

reach their Vision Zero goals

to prevent vehicle, pedestrian

and cyclist collisions, and

improve road safety. The

world, the company has set a

new course and 4 Earth Intelligence

will capitalise on this pioneering

work. Projects to date

have included the development

of a new global air quality

index, the creation of multiple

iterations of the satellite environmental

inventory of Abu Dhabi,

innovative data fusion techniques

in detecting soil quality

and climate resilience analysis

for Local Authorities in the UK.

Using consistent and repeatable

spatial data derived from

satellites, 4 Earth Intelligence

can provide insight about a

wide range of measurable

impacts using a variety of data

analysis techniques and show

change at very regular intervals.

4EI will work collaboratively with

commercial companies, agencies

and governments to help

improve decision making.

secure, cloud-based Brisk

dashboard reports on actionable,

predictive data on nearmiss

collisions and traffic

flow in near real-time from

video-monitored intersections

on roadways.

Brisk's platforms are already

being used worldwide in cities

including New York State,

Atlanta, Toronto, Bellevue,

Montreal, Denver, Bogota,

Zurich, The Hague, Nantes,

Karlsruhe and Mumbai.


Excitech has been acquired

by Addnode Group, the

owner of Symetri, Europe’s

leading provider of software

and services for design and

engineering activities. The

acquisition increases

Symetri’s UK footprint by over

3,500 customers, strengthens

its penetration in the construction

and manufacturing markets,

and enables both companies

to deliver more value

to their customers.

Excitech customers will see no

change in how the company

supports them, with the company

continuing to operate under

the Excitech brand out of its

Dr Jozef Dobos and Guy Ranawake

Enfield headquarters. Customers

will immediately benefit

from an increase in the breadth

of skills they have access to,

and a wider range of third-party

technologies, including

Symetri’s own products Naviate,

Sovelia, CQFlexMon, and CQi.

Founded in 1985, Excitech

employs 150 people, generating

net sales in excess of £50m.

Based in Enfield (North London),

with additional training

facilities in London and Cambridge,

it was one of the first

partners of Autodesk in the UK

and is an Autodesk Authorised

Training Centre.


Ingenious, through its Infrastructure

Ventures EIS Service,

has lead a £2.3m A-series

investment round in 3D Repo,

completing yet another successful

year for the innovative

start-up. 3D Repo technology

has been successfully deployed

on some of the largest and

most prestigious construction

projects with companies such

as Atkins, Balfour Beatty, Bryden

Wood, BuroHappold, Canary

Wharf Contractors, and Crossrail

among others.

Guy Ranawake, Senior Investment

Director at Ingenious,

said: "There has been solid

growth in the use of BIM worldwide

and especially in the UK

following the government mandate

for BIM Level 2 on all largescale

public sector construction

and infrastructure projects since

2016. 3D Repo’s online platform

has excellent collaborative tools

that allow teams to achieve all

the benefits promised by BIM,

consistently helping projects

meet cost and time targets."

Dr Jozef Dobos, founder and

CEO of 3D Repo, said: "Having

the backing of Ingenious means

that we can continue to support

the country's foremost digital

construction champions and

drive the use of 3D Repo on the

most challenging infrastructure

projects globally."


January/February 2019

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Integrity Software have

launched a cloud-based version

of their award-winning

construction accounting software,

with a number of customers

already using the webbased


One of the key benefits of the

new SaaS offering is improved

affordability. Removing the

upfront cost for users and

instead spreading the costs

throughout the year on a

monthly basis is an attractive

alternative for those who manage

their cash flow in this way.

The cloud-based hosted solution

will also remove the need

for an on-premise server, which

can represent a considerable

outlay for smaller construction

companies just starting out.

Evolution Mx users can now

benefit from a fully-fledged

cloud-based system, making it

even easier for users to work

remotely. It will also now be

available to Mac users, through

the use of a web-based VM.

Sophie Hurst, MD of Integrity

Software, said: “For years we

have come up against cloudbased

competitors when it

comes to new business, and

whilst the functionality, flexibility

and competency of our software

certainly held its own - with

many companies actually preferring

an on-premise solution –

we recognised that the market

is changing, and we felt the time

was right the develop our own

cloud-based version of our software

to give potential customers

more choice.”

Integrity will continue to offer

its award-winning constructionspecific

management software

as a hosted on-premise solution

along with this new cloudbased



International aerial mapping

company Bluesky has completed

another successful survey

season in the UK and Ireland.

Capturing around 70,000

square kilometres of aerial photography

– of which about 70

percent is high resolution – the

total area flown equates to

around twice the size of the


In addition to the true ortho

photography, which is used to

create 3D height models of the

earth’s bare surface (Digital

Terrain Models / DTM) and

ground features including

buildings and trees (Digital Surface

Models / DSM), Bluesky

has captured Colour Infrared

imagery of the entire area. This

CIR imagery can be used to

create environmental maps

which help determine the

health and state of vegetation.


RIBA is set to present its first

VR exhibition, exploring key

moments in the evolution of

architectural styles over the last

500 years. This new commission

by multidisciplinary design

studio Space Popular raises

one of the most enduring concerns

of architecture: the rise

and fall of styles.

Drawing on RIBA's world-class

collections, Space Popular uses

virtual reality to examine architecture

styles of the past - from

the Renaissance to postmodernism

- and to consider technology's

impact on contemporary

buildings and spaces. Historic

artefacts will be displayed

alongside newly-commissioned

content, welcoming visitors into

a virtual universe to experience

how popular cultures and technologies

impact architecture


announced the release of

the latest version of the widely

adopted Solibri Connection

add-on for ARCHICAD 23,

which allows faster BIM

updates and the use of Solibri

Office, Site or Anywhere while

working in a real-time design

scenario. Solibri Connection

add-on provides fast and automated

code and constructability


Optimised for ARCHICAD 23,

the updated add-on automatically

processes only those elements

that are changed in the

ARCHICAD model, resulting in

faster collaboration. BCFbased

issue reporting was

introduced to this workflow,

enabling designers to assign

the detected issues to teammates.

This add-on allows

faster BIM updates and the use

of Solibri while working in a

real-time design scenario.

Solibri Connection users will no

longer need to save files to

improve or evaluate the quality

of their BIM model.


and its evolution.

A large-scale architectural

model and vast colourful carpet

will dominate the real-life gallery,

incorporating references which

epitomise individual architectural

styles. Through interactive

content, avatars will take each

visitor on an illuminating tour

through the space, elaborating

on the real-life display of artefacts

from the RIBA collections

and their relation to technological

innovations through time.

The show includes contributions

from internationally renowned

architectural scholars; in addition,

students from London

Design and Engineering University

Technical College have participated

by producing their own

avatars, virtual worlds and alternative



January/February 2020


©Steve McCurry / Magnum Photos

Distilling the essence of design

Thomas Mahon of Bimorph Digital Engineering explains the use of GenerativeComponents to

calculate the mathematics behind The Macallan Distillery's distinctive and complex roof

It's a fascinating concept that owners of

wineries and distilleries, build splendid

structures to house their produce whilst it

matures in the vats, casks and gleaming

copper distillation devices. Take for example

the winery designed by Frank Gehry in

Elciego, Spain, One can only assume that

the patience required as each vintage

matures is bolstered by contemplation

amidst some iconic piece of architecture.

On the other hand, visitors want to see as

much of the manufacturing process as

possible - and one needs to encourage

profligacy from them by the opulence and

magnificence of a grand design.

I learnt about just such a dramatic and

inspiring project in Scotland at Bentley's

recent GenerativeComponents Symposium

in London, where Thomas Mahon,

founding Director of Bimorph Digital

Engineering, gave a presentation on the

parametric design process that aided in the

development of The Macallan Distillery roof

structure project.

The new Macallan Distillery building was a

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners project for

the Macallan Distillery, which has been in

existence since 1824 when they produced

their first single malt whiskey. Set in the

beautiful rolling scenery of the Easter

Elchies estate, the aim was to provide a

building that had a minimum visible impact

on the landscape, yet allowed visitors to

see all elements of the whiskey production

process in a dramatic environment - a

contrast between the engineering manmade

forms of the industrial production

and the surrounding countryside.

The distillery consists of a substructure

package of earthworks, waterproofing and

concrete retaining structures using a grey

aggregate mix and dark grey cement using

local pulverized fuel ash, to match local

stone. This was complemented by a

superstructure designed to fit in yet appear

man-made, and a gently undulating roof

which was quite different and separate to

the main structure, 'sailing' above it and

freeing it from restraining ground pressures

and loads.


The roof structure is in two principle parts, a

primary tubular steel support frame and

undulating domes and valleys for the

timber grid shell. The primary steel frame is

laced through the centre of the timber

beam structure and helps to resist the

torsional forces. The timber domes act in

compression and the interconnecting

valleys are hung between the domes. All of

the roof beams are straight and all of the

cassettes are flat double skinned panels,

providing a facetted appearance to the

engineered landscape.

Despite the highly repetitive and rotational

roof geometry the finished structure is

constructed from over 380 thousand

components. The beams are a composite

of glulam and laminated veneered lumbar

(LVL) and steel reinforced in certain key

locations. All of the timber beams are

vertical with a constant expressed depth of

750mm which allows for considered and

neat interfaces with internal partitions as

well as the solid and glazed façade.


Running the full length of the eastern and

southern elevations of the building is full

height double glazing composed of 3m

wide structurally bonded double-glazed

panels, supported from the base and

restrained at the head with a flexible

movement joint. The interface between the

main glazed façade and associated downstand

roof beam is a key and important

interface. Running the full length of the

building, the façade undulates between

2.6m and 5m in height. The interface at

roof level incorporates a flexible movement

detail which needs to accommodate the

vertical and lateral range of movements of

the roof structure, to remain engaged to the

roof and support its lateral movement

whilst maintaining the performance of its

thermal and weathering envelope.


On top of the timber roof structure is a

layered roof buildup of circa 300mm in

depth - 150mm of vapour barrier, thermal

insulation and waterproofing and then a

further 150mm of green living roof. The

insulation actually protects the irrigated roof

from the warming and drying effects of the

distillation process.

The architectural structural grid of the

timber provides a network of aluminum

channels, contributing to the engineered

aesthetic but also acting as a servicing

zone that crosses the entire roof, lightning

protection, irrigation runs, fall restraint lines

and power for actuated vents to the visitor

centre rooflights.


January/February 2020

CASE study


The roof design project was assisted by

Thomas Mahon in 2015 while working as a

computational BIM expert alongside the

design team at RSHP. The project inspired

the conception of his company Bimorph,

which provides advanced digital/software

engineering expertise as-a-service to the

construction industry.

The basis of the design was a grid, used

to calculate the different layers to create a

volume with a thickness generated by

inputting a vertical depth into the

GenerativeComponents (GC) parametric

model. The structural members were then

built dynamically as solids by the GC script

using the law curves (cosines) and

structural grid (3x3m) as the primary

constraints, and the vertical dimension as

the depth.

Thomas had control of the parametric

model in GC and was able to manipulate

the grid size, structural depth and the

overall surface curvature by modifying the

law curves (geometric controllers).

Rationalising the roof structure using

cosine equations, however, did create

natural caternaries for the structural

engineers load tests.


GenerativeComponents was the best

option for this project, Thomas explained,

as it has a powerful geometry engine and

unique features that enable it to undertake

complex building design problems. These

include a built-in IDE and debugger

capable of drawing geometry in the

viewport as users step through their code,

and a purpose-built scripting language,

GCScript, enabling text-based

programming (more suitable than visual

programming for this type of project).

GenerativeComponents also has a unique

transaction feature which records user

actions as the script is created and

organised by the programmer to create

more logical blocks of code. This essentially

creates states which can be rolled back or

replayed, enabling explicit flow control for

developing and debugging complex

computational design scripts - something

that is unavailable in other computational

design tools.

According to Thomas, this project would

have been extremely difficult to achieve

using traditional CAD software, since

finessing the design using law curves

meant potentially hundreds of design

iterations could be explored in a day. Even

a slight modification of the roof's node

points could result in ugly kinks in the roof

structure and entail a fresh calculation.

Done manually, just one design option

could take weeks!

GenerativeComponents offered other

advantages too, such as the precision and

mathematical parameterisation of the roof

design. Subtle but significant design

requirements, like the seemingly nonrational

humps in the roof structure, are

perfectly symmetrical up to where the ring

beams intersect the timber roof structure,

and essential for the RSHP design teams to

retain the consistency of the symmetrical

domes. This was only viable using

parametric modelling.

The apex of each dome, was actually only

achievable using GenerativeComponents'

cosines mapped into 3D space, and used

as the setting out point for the interpolation,

and then translated into the 3D structural

members of the roof structure.


Bimorph Digital Engineering is now a

London-based digital engineering firm

providing specialist design delivery

solutions to Architects, Engineers, Building

Contractors, and Manufacturers. Their work

ranges from improving workflow efficiency

by developing custom apps for widely used

construction software, to solving technical

building design problems using software

engineering and computational design/BIM.

Since launching in 2015 Bimorph has

grown rapidly, with an international client list

for whom the company has provided highly

innovative digital engineering solutions

which are transforming the way buildings

are designed and delivered. These include

coordinating a parametric model for the

WikiHouse project with Hawkins\Brown

architects and Architecture 00 using


Using a wide range of disciplines and

expertise including BIM, construction, Revit,

computational design, applied

mathematics, computer science (bin

packing algorithms, etc.) and geometric

analysis, Biomorph can develop add-ins

that can reduce design processes that

normally take weeks to just a few minutes.

January/February 2020 11



The winning UK entry in the architecture category of the Vectorworks Student Design Scholarship for

2019 combined a design concept influenced by nature supported by solid structural design, writes

David Chadwick, who helped judge this year's entrants

The winning UK entry in the

Vectorworks Student Design

Scholarship for 2019 was by Marina

Georgieva from Birmingham City University.

Marina was a winner in the Architecture

category for her Listotektura project, while

the 2019 Richard Diehl Award grand prize

was won by Kris Clemson's The Octagon.

Every year I have the honour and the

pleasure of judging the UK entries to the

competition, and I am invariably amazed at

the quality and the creativity of many of the

entries. Despite the fact that most of them

will never become actual building projects,

the effort that is put into them, and the fact

that they address many of the issues

prevalent in the industry, points to a wealth

of talent coming through our universities.

This year's UK winner, Marina Georgieva,

presented a project that appeared at first

glance to be more a work of art than a

carefully laid out architectural proposal, but

she described the development of the

project beautifully, and how it followed the

ethos of the local town and its surrounding

natural habitat. Marina then followed that

up with more concrete proposals about the

sustainability of the project and the

structural requirements of the separate

elements, carefully researched with

reference to similar projects worldwide.


The location of the project is in Bewdley,

UK, next to the River Severn, in the West

Midlands. Bewdley, Marina describes, is a

quiet town which, being set in a natural

environment, creates a feeling of

contentment and happiness for both

visitors and citizens.

The aim of the project was to provide an

art gallery, a space for public celebration of

local craftsmanship, studios for art visitors,

and public workshops. The design was

influenced by its natural surroundings,

including the gallery spaces. From the

initial concept to final design the building

was designed to be sustainable while

creating social areas - an all-year round

usable landscape space, views, attractions

and excitement.

To develop the concept it was separated

into two stages. The first stage was the

design, which focused on exploring the

influence of nature on the human mind and

body, providing an open landscape space

for social and interactive meeting. The

second stage of the project was presented

in her portfolio where the design brief and

conceptual ideas of the building were

explored and more fully defined.


The potential Bewdley Art Gallery site is

situated on the banks of the River Severn

and is surrounded by a lot of trees, whilst

still being close to the centre of the town.

To imbue the town's nature in the design,

Marina photographed and observed

nature's movement through the seasons.

Trees, leaves and the river were all

documented by short videos which

allowed her to focus on the bridge

between architecture and nature.

This went into some detail, and a single

tree was framed in a photograph from

Bewdley and the leaves explored as single

components - encouraging Marina to use

a single leaf as the basic concept of the

design, and then to create a patterned

web of such components.

The leaf was then drawn and dissected

into smaller components, getting to its

essential nature, so that its structure could

influence the pattern of the façade, the

building's shape and its delicate structure.

Using it as a base, pushing and pulling

the sides helped create the shape of the

roof, and then the corners of the building

to establish its height and where the roof

became embedded into the building. The

various shapes created in the structure by

the dissection provided places where

decorative patterns could be placed as

solid infills. The building evolved to create

a beautiful and delicate structure.


The design process was started by simply

drawing lines, exploring where the

decorative patterns would best be placed.

Abstract sections, spaces and the

abstract façade of the project were built as

a model to exist further exploration of the

concept. The delicate structure of the


January/February 2020

CASE study

Bewdley Art Gallery designs by Marina Georgieva at Birmingham City University

plywood strips used provided an insight

into the materials and the triangular

shapes where the decorative patterns

could be placed.

The conceptual model demonstrated

that two separate shapes helped divide

the various functions of the building.

These were refined later with the

separation of the floors and the height of

the building. The two different parts of the

building were connected with a bridge

between them, influenced by the curves of

the Bewdley terrain. The connection

between the two pods was strengthened

by adding a cable structure to support the

tension of the curvature of the bridge.

For the final design of the building, and

to prevent shadows being cast in the

seating area, the building was oriented to

face the sun.


As part of the environmental strategy, one

of the aims of the design was to

maximise natural light and ventilation,

and to create a healthy, happy

atmosphere. Window openings were

placed on each floor on all elevations,

and voids placed close enough to them

to encourage a stack effect and provide

natural ventilation, supported by

mechanical ventilation when necessary,

and cladding to enhance air movement.

Daylight penetration is provided by

glazing and the decoratively patterned

cladding throughout, which distributes

light to internal spaces, creating an

interesting atmosphere in the building.

This is supported by artificial lighting on

the ceilings and glulam columns - again,

only to be used when required.

Natural shading was achieved by

distinctive patterns on the façade, the

whole building creating a natural selfshading


Rainwater management was provided to

direct the water into a pond which was

part of the landscape design, which then

runs into a rainwater harvesting system,

used for watering the landscape and for

the toilets.

The building has underfloor heating for

the winter, supported by geothermal

heating - a ground source effect which

pushes hot air into the building replacing

cold air, assisted by a generator in the

pump room.


The site has environmental issues as the

risk of flooding is very high next to the

River Severn. There are three barriers in

Bewdley but none to protect the site of the

building. The landscaping was designed

to stop water reaching the building, with

steps raised up towards the river to act as

a flood water barrier.


A 3D model of the building was created to

better understand its timber frame. The

model was exploded into different

components, focusing on the primary and

secondary structure for the columns as

well as the floor, and materials applied to

each components to provide more

accurate visualisation.

A physical model of one of the parts of

the building was also made to test the

structure of the concept.

The model was separated into two parts,

the structure and the façade, and the

stability of the structural timber frame

explored. Other buildings with similar

designs were studied to evaluate the

design of the timber frame structure: the

Chilean Pavilion designed by Undurraga

Devés Arquitectos and Maggie's Cancer

Centre in Manchester designed by Foster

+ Partners.

The gallery dimensions were quite

large - 22m high, supported by glulam

arches. The arches are 210mm wide

and 900mm deep spanning the full 22m

width. Each arch is supported by a steel

shoe, pinned to the ground, with spliced

plates welded to a 244mm diameter

support. The whole structure rests on a

cast concrete floor slab.

For the presentation, virtual reality renders

were created to better understand the

space within the building. Finally, to link all

of this together the galleries in both parts

of the building were named, 'Framing

Nature' and 'Sculptures of Nature'.

It was a pleasure going through Marina's

presentation again for this issue.

If you are interested in entering your

project for the 2020 Vectorworks Design

Scholarship awards you can register your

interest at:

January/February 2020 13





Sponsored by:


In memory of Tony Ryan

Asite's Tony Ryan passed away on Tuesday the 2nd of January in London, due to unexpectedly

severe complications from a recent illness. He was appointed CEO in 2006, having previously been

Sales Director

In partnership with Nathan Doughty,

who had been Chief Operating

Officer since 2006, Tony

transformed Asite into a consistently

profitable business - despite the

turbulent times the industry faced. Due

to this work, Asite is now a key global

player in today's Software as a Service

(SaaS) space, working on some of the

largest capital projects and

infrastructure developments around

the world. Tony's determination to

succeed was a key driver of this


Above all, Tony was an extraordinary

character who will be remembered for

his positive energy and optimism

about life. The entire Asite family

grieves his loss and extends their

deepest sympathies to Tony's family

and friends.

While Asite mourns, they also

continue to push forward as the

ATeam; which is precisely what he

would have wanted. Nathan Doughty

has been appointed as Group CEO

and has the full support of Asite's

Board of Directors, management team

and employees around the world.

With over 25 years of experience in IT

services, extensive knowledge of

Software as a Service and the global

architectural, engineering and

construction (AEC) environment,

Nathan will continue to build on the

excellent foundations that have been

laid and provide leadership to shape a

market-leading future for the business

in its mission to become the global

leader in digital engineering.

Asite's global offices and expanding

team of experts has provided them

with the capability to fully support their

customers, regardless of their location.

Their success over the last year has

enabled them to achieve ambitious

growth targets, resulting in an 83%

increase in operating profit and 20.4%

increase in revenue. At the centre of

their triumph, the cloud-based Asite

platform continues to push the

boundaries of research and innovation

in the field of digital engineering on

behalf of their customers, achieving

awards such as Cloud Technology of

the Year and Best Use of IT in a

Construction Project at the

Constructing Computing Awards 2019.

They are well positioned to

accomplish their strategic desire to

become the global leader in digital

engineering by integrating supply

chains for capital projects and

infrastructure developments

worldwide, and their vision to connect

people and help the world build better

has never been more pertinent. Asite's

future looks very bright and is destined

for exciting times ahead.


Founded in 2001, Asite's platform

enables organisations working on

large capital projects to come

together, plan, design and build with

seamless information sharing across

the entire supply chain.

Asite Vendor Marketplace is our

supply chain management solution

which helps capital project owners and

Tier-1 contractors to integrate and

manage their extended supply chain

for delivering on capital projects. Asite

Common Data Environment is our

project portfolio management solution

that gives you and your extended

supply chain shared visibility of your

capital projects. Together they enable

organisations to build digital

engineering teams that can deliver

digital twins and just plain build better.

Asite is headquartered in London's

Tech City and has regional offices in

New York, Houston, Dubai, Sydney,

Hong Kong, India and South Africa.

January/February 2020 15

CASE study

Remodelling King's Cross Station

3D Repo provides access to the thousands of CAD files created by the King's Cross railway

development project to 300 designers, contractors and managers

London's King's Cross railway

station is one of the busiest

stations in the UK, serving close

to 40 million passengers each year.

Although it has attracted attention for

the magnificent semi-circular vaulted

canopy over the concourse, designed

by British architects John McAslan +

Partners, it's been 25 years since any

major intervention has taken place on

the railway itself, and it is now in need

of some major renewal and remodelling

work. The remodelling will allow for an

increase in the length and number of

long-distance trains, and facilitate

future improvements to journey times.

Specialist Project Integration (SPI) a

company that works with companies

within the construction, utilities and

infrastructure industries to raise

productivity using enabling

technologies, information management

and visualisation, are undertaking this

massive £250 million project which


Extending passenger platforms

Recommissioning an unused tunnel

Optimising the track layout

Modernising the signalling control


One of the major challenges for this

complex project is that the new railway

needs to be built on top of existing

railway whilst it remains open. With

about 300 designers, contractors, and

managers across multiple companies,

and some 3,500 CAD files, SPI knew

that traditional methods of

communication and design

coordination were not appropriate.

Furthermore, they needed to be sure

that disruption to one of the UK's

busiest railway stations was kept to a


Despite using ProjectWise as a

common data environment (CDE), there

was also a need for a design

coordination and collaboration tool that

could run easily in a web browser. 3D

Repo's digital platform for Building

Information Modelling (BIM) was

chosen as the platform to help SPI with

coordination due to the fact that it

required minimal training, and could be

accessed from any computer without

the need for software installation or


SPI are using 3D Repo as both a

design coordination tool and a

communication tool to help them bring

this project together. The company

hopes to achieve a predicted saving of

about 10,000 hours of on-site work

thanks to the combination of software

applications being used including

Bentley MicroStation, 3D Repo, and



One of the key features used is Instant

Clash, which identifies issues such as

steelwork clashing with overhead lines,

highlighting the exact intersection point

to save potential rework during

construction. Designers and engineers

simply sign-in from a web browser to

view the latest models and log issues

and comments into the platform as a

central hub for communication -

meaning no more lost emails.

3D Repo's 3D Diff feature, the first

real-time change detection solution on

the web, released by 3D Repo earlier


January/February 2020

CASE study

this year, detects changes made

between 3D models regardless of file

type, making it easy for multidisciplinary

teams to collaborate when different

design software applications are being

used. It compares actual geometry

changes between models, highlighting

new elements in green and deletions in

red. Amongst the most popular file

formats that 3D Repo supports are, of

course, Autodesk Revit and

Navisworks, Bentley DGN, IFC, FBX

and many more.

One surprising benefit to the use of 3D

Repo, in spite of the complexity of the

project, is that SPI is able to achieve

substantial efficiencies within the

project using only a small proportion of

the features available in the software.

According to Simon Wray, Managing

Director of Specialist Product

Integration, "The great thing about 3D

Repo is that we're only using the most

basic features and we're getting a

strong return on investment."


Similar functionality widens accessibility

to the project beyond project members

and industry specialists. 3D Repo

provides a "reality model" of the project

which can be used to 'democratise' the

data it contains, and to customise views

that enable stakeholders, the public

and other interested parties to extract

the information they require. The

complexity of the project can be

mitigated for those who do not normally

use, or necessarily understand, CAD

drawings and BIM models.

The reality model is actually a realistic

version of the design, adding context to

the remodelling project - adding visual

clues to its appearance of the project

and its setting and removing the need

for specialist interpretation. SPI have

found that this has helped minimise

timescales in decision making from

local authorities, station management,

train operators etc. as they are able to

relate the reality model back to a realworld


Besides providing an ideal

communication tool for projects, 3D

Repo is being used for numerous other

tasks during the King's Cross

remodelling project. Stakeholder

engagement - and, dare we say it,

education - is an important part of the

process. Explaining where the money is

being swallowed up is a lot easier to

put across when you can 'walk' the

senior management team through the

project rather than swapping 3D model

views and Excel spreadsheets round

the board. Similarly, Engineering

meetings have become more focused,

facilitating direct interaction with

engineering issues whatever the rail

technology, application being

discussed or file formats being used.


One of the main issues for the project,

mentioned above, is that all of the

proposed improvements are to be

carried out whilst the existing railway

lines remain in operation. That raises

immense problems for site logistics,

such as the removal of waste material,

the provision of new equipment and the

machinery required to install it, and the

general movement of workers on and

off the site whilst trains are running

past. Here, 3D Repo's health and safety

tool, SafetiBase, has proved an ideal

solution for educating the workforce

about the issues and dangers involved

in working in a 'live' environment,

allowing potential hazards to be

identified and mitigated before anyone

sets foot onsite.

Construction projects in Greater

London are probably subject to far

more planning processes than

anywhere else, and are likely to be far

more stringent - hence the use of 3D

Repo to assist in obtaining planning

consents, and the enhanced overviews

of the King's Cross project that

facilitated the project's acceptance.

The general feeling at SPI is that from

the designers, architects and engineer's

points of view, and also as a tool for

informing all other parties involved or

interested in a project, 3D Repo has

certainly delivered its promise. This was

endorsed by Keith Wakeford, head of

Modelling and Simulation at SPI, who

said "We found 3D Repo intuitive to

use, and capable of navigating

extremely complex models, even when

using textured elements".

January/February 2020 17

CASE study

Mix and match

When faced with a hybrid mix of precast, cast-in-place and reinforcement concrete, a tight delivery

schedule, a marine environment and complex construction methodologies, Kilnbridge Construction

Services turned to Trimble's Tekla Structures for assistance on the Water Street Bridge project

Arecent addition to London's Canary

Wharf estate, the new Water Street

Bridge was designed by Knight

Architects with COWI and Eadon

Consulting, to provide a road and

pedestrian link between Montgomery

Square and the new Wood Wharf

development. A single-leaf bascule bridge,

with an upward swing to allow boats to

pass underneath, it spans over 25m across

the Bellmouth Passage, between the pivot

point within the East Abutment chamber

and the elastomeric nose-bearing at the

West Abutment.

Kilnbridge, a multidiscipline construction

and engineering business, was awarded

the £5million project by Canary Wharf

Contractors, with the task of designing,

fabricating and installing the three primary

concrete structures required for the bridge's

construction - the East Abutment, West

Abutment and Marine Causeway.

Both the East and West Abutment were to

be formed of reinforced concrete, with the

surrounding marine environment requiring

careful detailing and consideration of the

adjacent structures. The West Abutment

consisted of a number of vertical structures,

notably two feature concrete columns that

support the bridge's elastomeric bearings

and approach deck; all of which were

supported on bearing piles through the

existing promenade. In comparison, the

East Abutment is a semi-submerged

concrete structure, founded on 1200mm

diameter bored marine piles with

permanent steel casings sealed into the

Lambeth Beds below.

Designed to withstand impact from a

small ship, the main function of the East

Abutment is to support the bridge's pivot

bearing and lifting cylinder, as well as

house the other mechanical components

and plant room area.

Kilnbridge was also tasked with

designing, fabricating and constructing

the Marine Causeway, which ran

alongside the existing marine deck of the

new Wood Wharf development.

Consisting of bored marine piles that

support transverse precast beams,

precast planks then span between the

beams, providing permanent formwork for

the in-situ concrete deck above.

It was a complex project, which

combined precast, cast-in-place and

finished concrete, as well as various

temporary works. The limited three-month

pre-construction lead-in period also

required the accelerated design and

detailing of all precast elements. Kilnbridge

therefore turned to Trimble's Tekla

Structures for assistance.

Alastair Courtney, Senior Engineer at

Kilnbridge said: "We have been using Tekla

software for concrete reinforcement

detailing for around three years now, with

the company also having utilised it on steel

fabrication works for approximately eight

years prior to this. The benefits this

software can bring to both small- and

large-scale projects are huge and indeed

widely evident across the whole

construction process.

"On the Water Street Bridge site, given the


January/February 2020

CASE study

hybrid nature of the structures and

concrete elements, effective project

coordination and development was crucial.

It was here that we were aided

immeasurably by the use of BIM and Tekla

Structures. As a result of some of the

elements being highly complex in terms of

design and positioning, it was vital that we

were able to first model and study them in

3D prior to construction, both to ensure

that they were buildable and also to avoid

any clashes between the heavy

reinforcement elements."

One such example of this design and

construction complexity was the East

Abutment. With the intention of reducing

the need for marine plant machinery and

also improve site safety for workers and

operatives, it was concluded that

constructing the permanent outer concrete

shell structure above the dock water level

was the most efficient option, effectively

transforming a marine operation into a

land-based one.

Alastair explained further: "After much

consideration, we decided that the outer

concrete shell would be constructed above

water, complete with a temporary working

platform, before gradually being lowered

over five metres into the water below using

strand jacking techniques. It would then be

sealed and dewatered to provide the

working space necessary to complete the

remainder of the concrete structure.

"Of course, planning and then carrying

out such a complex piece of engineering

required a great amount of preparation,

which is another area where Tekla

Structures came in. Not only did the

software greatly assist with the modelling

of the temporary works required for such

an operation, including temporary

reinforcing bars to suit the change in

structural loading, but it also aided in

detailing the changing reinforcement

requirements. We were able to efficiently

model, consider and assess the two

differing locations of the structure - a key

factor considering the installed position

was far from the permanent end-location."

In addition to the challenges presented

by the marine environment, the team at

Kilnbridge also had to consider the

proximity of the London Underground

Limited (LUL) assets; as well as obeying

the tight deadline by which the project's

concrete structures had to be completed.

Given this, the decision was made for a

large number of concrete elements within

the Marine Causeway, as well as the

abutments, to be changed from cast-inplace

to precast, as Alastair explained:

"By introducing a greater amount of

precast elements, we received both large

time and cost savings, as well as derisking

the project as a whole - vital considering

the tight timescales. This also allowed for a

large portion of the works to be

constructed and signed-off prior to the

main works commencing on site, enabling

us to get ahead of the schedule.

"Through the use of Tekla Structures, we

were able to study the 3D model in detail

and review both the potential advantages

and constructability of changing the

concrete elements to precast. In addition,

we were also able to ensure that the joints

constructed between the pre-cast

elements would not impact on the

surrounding structures."

The benefits of Tekla software and the

ease of control allowed with Tekla

Structures was further exemplified when, at

a crucial point in the project, two weeks

prior to a key element being constructed,

the permanent works engineer noted that

the design calculations hadn't correctly

accounted for the loading from a ship

impact. As a result, substantial changes in

the reinforcement were required.

"Thanks to Tekla, what could have been a

significant setback and caused serious

delays to the project was easily and

efficiently solved," commented Alastair.

"The required changes were all promptly

incorporated within the model, Tekla

Structure's automatic clash detection

confirmed the design was correct and

constructible. The corresponding

fabrication drawings and schedules were

generated within just two days, enabling

the new reinforcement to be delivered to

site on time. It also allowed us to maximise

reusage of the previously ordered

elements from the then obsolete design,

subsequently reducing waste.

"Thanks to Tekla Structures, the overall

construction programme was not

impacted, and we were able to achieve our

deadline for the lowering of the East

Abutment structure - a real feat of

engineering in itself."

The complex nature of the project has

seen Kilnbridge receive praise and

recognition from throughout the industry,

including being presented with the

Infrastructure Project Award in the Tekla UK

Awards 2019, where judges praised its

integration of both precast and cast-inplace

concrete, and also receiving

commendation for CONSTRUCT's Project

of the Year Award (2018).

January/February 2020 19


Bentley OpenBuildings Designer

Rounding off a sequence of 'Open' applications from Bentley is OpenBuildings Designer - the ultimate

single multidisciplinary application

As we have seen over the last couple

of years, the trend within Bentley

Systems is towards the full

integration of related applications to

facilitate the sharing of information in order

to improve the workflows between all

members of a project. Previously this was

focused on individual project types -

infrastructure design, site and building

modelling and, most recently, flood relief

solutions - but earlier this year Bentley

released the ultimate in their 'Open'

system solutions: OpenBuildings

Designer. It seemed appropriate then that

we should wrap up the series with this

important, fundamental, Open solution.

This single application brings together all

of the separate functions that comprise a

typical construction project, with the

benefit of specialists in each area being

able to work on, or contribute to, a single

'Master' model.

The ultimate application is putting it

mildly. OpenBuildings Designer provides

access to architectural, structural,

mechanical and electrical design

solutions, as well as computational

design solutions for exploring design

variations, and energy services for

performing building simulations and

energy evaluations. Designs can be

developed in context using reality models

and point cloud data, checked in

progress using clash detection tools and,

whilst adhering to company standards,

sharing data with all common formats -

IFC, COBie RealDWG, RFA and

SketchUp's SKP - and to share models

using Bentley's iModels technology.

OpenBuilding Designer also takes

advantage of all of the latest technology

advances to produce project documents,

lifelike renderings and movies,

incorporate media files, share weblinks

and develop hypermodels. All of this

comes within a Bentley ProjectWise

environment. There's even a personalised

learning facility to accelerate and

encourage adoption of the application.

Described as a 'Design In Reality

Context', it is a multidisciplinary approach

that uses BIM workflows to build

information-rich models for the design,

analysis, simulation and documentation

of buildings. It even includes things like

computational design - or

GenerativeComponents - and energy

simulations for evaluating building

performance. As with earlier Open

Design solutions, OpenBuilding Designer

places users within a 3D modelling

environment, leveraging reality models to

place them in context.

Faced with access to such a wealth of

applications, it is only appropriate that it is

supported by Bentley's SELECT

CONNECT Edition and services - which

include Adaptive Learning Services that

provide contextual and personal learning,

and Personal Mobility Services giving

unlimited access to project information as

and when required. ProjectWise

Connection Services allows users to share

and manage issues, applications and

project information, and to handle

transmittals, submittals and RFIs.

With such a phenomenal increase in the

sharing of information between the

different disciplines, the only caveat I

suppose is the amount of data translation

required to build complex models, and the

organising required to keep all of it

relevant and up to date. By using the BIMs

federated data, however, design

components are made available to all

members of a project team, no matter

what format it was originally designed in,

and building systems using these different

technologies are coordinated to allow

users to work on any size model




OpenBuildings Designer is described by

Bentley as a single multidisciplinary

application. Besides a standard

architectural set of tools, it incorporates

structural software to model steel,

concrete and timber structures, with tools

to detail steel trusses, joists, ladders and

handrails and other assemblies. The

structural software comes with a library of

international steel and concrete shapes,


January/February 2020


and is capable of sharing both models

and analysis with other applications, using

Bentley's Integrated Structural Modelling

(ISM) technology. It can also exchange

data with other detailing applications using

CIS/2 and SDNF (you can start to see the

multiplicity of formats building up).

The application comes with Mechanical

and Electric components - the former for

modelling HVAC, piping and other

plumbing systems, and the second to

provide complex lighting designs and

electrical circuitry. Using standard MEP

components, aided by software to

calculate ductwork sizes and airflows,

users can layout complete HVAC and

other systems, and then produce the

drawings and models they need to send

to Trimble's FabShop for fabrication.

Electrical design comes with its own

unique array of requirements, allowing

users to lay out electric circuits

parametrically. These include cable trays,

baskets, conduits and wireways, which

have to be documented in 2D formats,

block diagrams, lighting and panel

schedules. These are totally familiar to

electrical engineers however, who have

access to user-definable templates.


This is where the application really takes off.

There's little perceived advantage to be

gained running the first three elements

together, as opposed to running them

separately and traditionally, sharing data

using ProjectWise's Connected Data

Environment (CDE). Integrating

computational design and other advanced

design tools within the application, however,

allows users to leverage the information

available in virtually unlimited ways.

Defining components within a proposed

design, building relationships and

applying dimensional constraints allows

architects to explore a range of what-if

scenarios. Mathematical algorithms can

be linked to designs to run a vast number

of iterations of even the most complex

designs, in a fraction of the time

traditional methods would take to handle

just one iteration.

Mathematical statements, covering

everything from shape, environmental

constraints and rental requirements

through to cost, can be used to control

the geometry, orientation and size of a

building, to produce an optimum solution

for a design. Enhanced control of such

designs can also use slides, law curves

and other visual techniques to manipulate

individual design components. An

example of this is provided by the case

study on Macallan Distillery in this issue,

which uses GenerativeComponents to

define the unique shape of the iconic roof.



That only leaves environmental

considerations, as vital a component of

modern building design as all other

elements. Using the industry standard

EnergyPlus, whole building energy

analysis can be undertaken in

OpenBuildings Designer, facilitating

compliance with international building

regulations based on industry standard

load calculations.

In addition, the building energy module

allows users to calculate local conditions,

seasonal requirements and building

settings to maximise its environmental

credentials. These include the calculation

of daylight factors throughout the year

using the industry standard Radiance

engine, and simulating the effect of

shading from adjacent buildings and their

influence on the design.

All of this is rounded off by the

production of reports and charts to

demonstrate building simulation showing

heating and cooling loads, LEED

compliance, annual energy use,

equipment sizing requirements and CO2



Quite a comprehensive array of features

in just one application - if you can even

describe it as such - and yet there's more.

OpenBuildings Designer can be used

with other Bentley Open applications,

such as OpenSite Designer, Descartes

and LumenRT. This provides full terrain

development features with OpenSite

Designer, Descartes digital imagery tools

for converting point tools, terrain maps

and other captured imagery into usable

geometry, and LumenRT's visualisation

and reality modelling software.

I said at the start of the article that

OpenBuildings Designer is the ultimate

application in Bentley's 'Open' suite and I

think that the comprehensive array of

modules confirms that. The danger may

be that specialisation is being eroded,

and that architects are being encourages

to dabble in a little bit of everything. On

the other hand, knowledge of the

constraints, capabilities and needs of

each of the associated disciplines can

only aid collaboration and the sharing of

information, resulting in increased

efficiency in ultimate building design.

January/February 2020 21


BIM technology for AURA Apart

Ukrainian Architects the Da Vinchi Group win the European Property Award for their AURA Apart hotel,

designed using ARCHICAD and relying heavily on BIM technology

AURA Apart, designed by Da Vinchi

Group and Vatmanstudio, is a hotel

project in Odessa, Ukraine, which

recently won the European Property

Awards. Designers often face difficult

requirements that are key to the success

of the entire project, but working on AURA

Apart Hotel they faced multiple challenges

with a beach location, a seismic zone and

difficult terrain. The founder of the Da

Vinchi Group, Sergey Yurets, and BIM

Manager, Vitaly Pravdych, spoke about

how they managed these challenges and

why they used ARCHICAD.



The main task in designing the complex

AURA Apart, which began in late 2017,

was to create a light façade, which would

harmoniously complement the

picturesque seascape and coast. Vitaly

Pravdych describes the initial challenges

the designers faced: "Since the

construction was planned for the

seacoast, the design had to consider the

climate. In addition, the site is located in

an active seismic zone -- 7 points, which

imposes certain structural limitations.

Another feature is the complex terrain: the

hotel is located on a steep slope."

According to the project's BIM Manager,

the practice had already gained practical

experience of the software, with its wide

functionality. He explained that ARCHICAD

allows you to fill the model with

information and then use it for the

automatic construction of façades,

sections, elevations and details of the

project, to determine specifications, draw

up documentation and so on. The entire

team of specialists can also work

simultaneously on the project using a

common file, which significantly reduces

the design time.

Sergei Yurets believes that "There are

quite a few architectural software brands

on the market, but the undisputed leaders

are ARCHICAD and Revit. For our

company, the most convenient software

product is ARCHICAD. The modern world

is rapidly developing, and new

requirements will always appear. So, it is

important that software developers

respond to them quickly and satisfy users'

requests as much as possible." In his

opinion, the interest of architects in BIM

software is consistently growing, and this

trend is noticeable at a global level. "For

example", he said, "the British government

demands public projects to be carried out

exclusively using BIM technology, and

private companies are gradually moving

to BIM design".

The Da Vinchi Group started working

with BIM in 2018, initially creating a pilot

team and a BIM Department. The goal

was to transition to full 3D design for most

sections and maximum automation of

design processes.

Sergey Yurets says, "Our company is

actively using BIM, and now we simply

cannot, or rather do not want to work

differently. BIM enables the customer to

be involved in the design process, allows

them to be involved in all stages of design

online and reduces the number of

meetings for approvals. As a result, the

customer gets exactly what he wants. And

the head of the project organisation has

more time to work with potential


Additionally, Vitaly Pravdych explained

that BIM helps architects to avoid

problems before construction begins.

When sections of the project are

developed separately, there are always

risks. In a consolidated BIM model, the

probability of error is minimised.

The BIM manager explained the practical

aspects of BIM implementation saying,

"When we faced the first challenges, we

realised that we were not using the full

functionality of ARCHICAD. To educate the

team, we arranged additional courses,

and even began to master the program's

relationship with Grasshopper. Thanks to

these efforts, we improved the quality of

our work and automated most of our

routine processes. We also combined all

technologies in one model, despite the

fact that the engineering sections were not

designed in ARCHICAD, exchange model

information in open IFC format."


January/February 2020

CASE study


BIM technologies simplified AURA Apart's

design and helped in many ways. For

example, when designing the physical

layout of the underground parking lot, the

team monitored the overall distances

required for the passage of cars or whether

an increase in the height of the parking lot

was required. To position the building,

further studies were used to determine the

alignment and positioning of the building to

take advantage of the terrain.

BIMx was widely used to provide the client

with detailed information on every element

of the project. Clicking on an object

opened key information, such as the

materials chosen by the designers, their

quantity, as well as the cost.



In BIM, the amount of time spent on the

project does not change significantly, but

its quality improves and its implementation

period decreases, reducing construction

costs. Vitaly Pravdych explains. "When the

project was launched we needed to speed

up the earthworks. Using BIMcloud

Teamwork four architects worked on it

simultaneously, enabling important

deadlines to be met."

According to Pravdych, a system of

connected modules was used for the

project, which were repeated on the floors

(glass façade, stairs, ventilation shafts,

lintels, etc.); it significantly simplified

additional calculations and made the

model 'lighter'. Specially designed GDLobjects

were used to design the apartment.

The project was divided into several

parts: earthwork, ground floor, additional

floors and the roof. Further work was

carried out in parallel by four groups:

architects, engineers, designers and the

designers from Vatmanstudio. After the

mass modeling, engineers and designers

were involved in the development, and the

project documentation was prepared

sequentially by the architects and project


When transferring information, cloud

storage was used on the company's

servers. Thanks to the universal IFC format,

architects who worked on the creation of a

3D model in ARCHICAD could transfer

information and set tasks without disruption

to architects and engineers using Revit and

Civil 3D. Similarly, completed tasks were

transferred back to be added to the model

as IFC modules.



During the development of all sections

and the formation of the consolidated BIM

model in ARCHICAD, a collision check

was performed. This used to be carried

out manually, risking inconsistencies and

collisions among engineering systems,

which led to delays, and significantly

increased the total cost of the project.

Now, everything is checked automatically

in the ARCHICAD environment, producing

a file marked "for correction" which was

shared with the project members, who

each made the adjustments in their own

part of the design.


It is interesting to note that during the

work on the project, ARCHICAD helped

not only in effective communication with

the customer, but also on the construction

site. During construction, the designers'

representatives visited the site and could

demonstrate the project or individual

parts in 3D on a tablet, supervising

construction on site using BIMx, which

allowed them to compare the work

performed with the BIM model.


The AURA Apart Hotel project has received

several international architectural awards,

which clearly demonstrate the brilliant work

of the designers and the quality of the

software that was used during all stages.

"The project was highly appreciated not

only by the customer, but also by the jury of

the European Property Awards in London,

receiving awards in the Residential Highrise

Architecture Ukraine and Best

Apartment Ukraine categories," added

Sergey Yurets.

Da Vinchi Group is a team of

professionals in the field of architecture

and design, where everyone knows his

role and is responsible for the result. They

have many years of experience working

with new buildings - from the concept

phase to the first inhabitants (visitors),

including all the stages of designing from

a sketch to documentation, as well as

developing visualisations of exteriors,

design-projects of common areas,

apartments, offices, branding, corporate

identity and advertising. The project also

used the services of VATMANSTUDIO, a

company founded in 2013, which enables

architects and designers respond to socioeconomic

pressures to successfully

forecast and implement modern trends in

architectural and industrial design at a

global level - a technology mentor for the

construction industry?

January/February 2020 23


BIM on the building site

David Chadwick and Excitech's Daryn Fitz continue their discussion of BIM by evaluating its impact

on main contractors' working practices

David Chadwick: How are main

contractors using Building

Information Modelling (BIM)?

Daryn Fitz: Where designers are using

BIM to support design outputs and

assist in producing coordinated

designs, main contractors are

combining processes to improve

project outcomes. For instance, 3D

point cloud survey data and the

designer's 3D models can be federated

together in a product called Navisworks

along with a plugin solution called Verity

which analyses the combined data. It

can report on components that are out

of tolerance, not yet installed, or simply

not installed in accordance with the

design model.

The advantage of this approach is that

critical elements such as a building

façade can be checked against the

constructed structure and the proposed

design to ensure a 'right first time install'

is achieved, avoiding delays to the

construction programme and increased

costs in material and labour. Checks

can also be made for the positioning of

builders works holes and slab

penetrations, giving confidence to the

building services subcontractor that any

off-site fabrication will fit within the main

frame of the building.

Models can also be linked and

synchronised to construction

programmes providing a solution known

as 4D planning (3D + Time) which

allows the proposed construction

programme to be viewed in 3D. This

approach not only helps to visualise the

build and communicate it to others, but

also identifies errors in the sequencing. I

myself have worked with main

contractors and delivered over 340 4D

planning sequences, and each time

either errors in sequences were

identified or alternative construction

options and methods were proposed.

Another great use of 4D sequencing is

to visually track progress of the building

on the site to ensure that the positioning

of temporary works equipment and

structures are all aligned to the program.

In addition to the above examples

there's also clash detection, where 3D

design models are federated together

in products such as Autodesk's

Navisworks and are analysed to ensure

that all components are coordinated

prior to construction, and maintenance

access is considered and reviewed.

As mobile technology is becoming the

norm on our sites, we are seeing the

use of the 3D model playing a

significant visual aid to our site

operatives. Using tools such as BIM 360

Build enables us to navigate around the

model out on site and allows us to see

the virtual completed state within the

progressive construction environment.

This also gives us the advantage of

bringing in the assets from the model

into a digital platform while looking to

enhance quality and compliance

procedures via digital forms.

I believe that the advantages BIM

provides are compelling, and the above

are just four examples from a very long

list of applications.


January/February 2020


DC: What are the challenges for main

contractors adopting BIM?

DF: That is a great question because, in

my experience, it changes depending

on an organisation's maturity in BIM.

Typically, main contractors will start by

employing an individual with BIM

management and technical skills, who

will often report to a senior design

manager or director. A central specialist

team is then formed which may assist

with delivering some of the processes

described in the previous question - but

here lies the main challenge.

Building Information Modelling offers

advantages for many individuals as it

can provide information directly to

mobile devices for site operatives,

collect data to allow managers and

procurement departments to evaluate

the performance of their subcontractors,

support the generation of operating &

maintenance information, and improve

the overall management of information

and data flows throughout a project via

systems known as Common data

Environments, such as Autodesk's BIM

360 platform.

However, for those organisations who

want to maximise the advantages of

BIM, it means increased leadership and

ownership beyond a specialist BIM

team, and this can include IT managers,

document controllers, commercial

departments and human resources, who

will need to support the process and

training initiatives.

Another challenge is making sure that

the whole project team is working to BIM

processes whether they are designers,

subcontractors, manufacturers,

specialist suppliers, etc. If everyone is

working to BIM processes and providing

consistent, sharable data and

information, it is to the advantage of the

whole project team.

Excitech's consultants support both

national and regional main contractors

in this endeavour by providing initial

strategy development, education and

training, system selection,

implementation and regular key

performance indicator evaluations. We

are seeing this area of support

increasing exponentially due to many

main contractors wishing to maximise

their return on investment, reduce

operational and delivery costs and

increase the certainty of project

outcomes in a very competitive and

politically uncertain market.

DC: Construction in the past has not

had the best reputation as an industry to

work in. Is this changing?

DF: Yes, there are many reports

suggesting that construction is not the

most popular option as a career choice,

and the industry is now working hard to

change that. The sectors' Digital

Transformation will complement and

support this initiative.

If you walk onto a construction site

today, you may see drones flying

overhead capturing 3D point cloud

scans or photogrammetry, operatives

wearing site helmets with an array of

technology from Heads Up Displays

(HUDs) and Augmented Reality (AR)

proximity sensors to the equivalents of

Amazon's Alexa voice control to make

requests for information, bricklaying

robots, driverless site equipment with

preprogrammed activities, workers

wearing exoskeletons to avoid repetitive

strain and make tasks easier, and

fingerprint biometric access controls

prior to entering a construction site. And

then of course you have mobile data

capture and information readily available

on site, eliminating the need to

constantly travel between the

construction site and site offices to find


Of course, you will not see these on

every construction site, but all of these

examples are in place or being tested in

the UK Construction Sector and are on

the increase. I was at the Digital

Construction Week exhibition last year,

and if you want to understand how

much the industry is changing and how

prominent BIM and technology is driving

this change then do visit this free event

in 2020.

A challenge for any main contractor is

keeping up with all this new technology

and innovation, and this is where

Excitech helps customers, by employing

consultants who specialise in specific

technology and process areas. We can

call upon subject matter experts which

allows us to evaluate how to combine

technologies and not rely on a single

point solution for the best tailored


DC: Are there new skills or job roles

needed in main contractors to support


DF: The simple answer is yes. The

acronym BIM was first coined in 2002

and we now have lots of BIM managers

with new and very different

responsibilities when compared to a

CAD manager. We now see jobs with

titles such as digital engineers to reflect

the industry's transition to increased

digital working, and data analysts being

employed in some of the larger main

contractors. But considering the wider

context, we have an existing workforce

where a forty-year-old still has another

twenty-seven years of work ahead before

retiring and the industry changes due to

digitalisation are become more rapid.

Members of Parliament are already citing

their concerns that we have a workforce

that will need to be supported and trained,

otherwise there is a danger they could be

left behind despite well-publicised skills

shortages. I facilitate on a regular basis

BIM and Digital Transformation

Workshops and education sessions with

many main contractors, but this should

only be the starting point. From there, it is

important to review the skills technology

and digital competencies required across

the business from design managers,

estimators, package managers, bids and

proposal teams, for instance, and

integrate this into roles and responsibilities

and future training initiatives.

I am starting to see this happen across

the industry, but it needs to be

expanded rapidly to ensure the existing

workforce is fully supported;

understanding that change for some

can be unnerving and of concern,

especially when using unfamiliar

systems and technology.

You can discover more about Excitech's

range of solutions at the website below.

January/February 2020 25

EVENT preview

Futurebuild 2020: be the catalyst for change

Recent climate change demonstrations and government declarations make one thing clear; we must

all come together to take action against the climate change challenges we are facing. Put simply,

without collaboration, we will fail

Against this backdrop, Futurebuild

2020 (03-05 March, ExCeL

London) will inspire visitors to

join fellow industry leaders and

innovators to be the catalyst for change

that is so urgently needed to help

deliver a more sustainable built



Futurebuild's highly-regarded

conference programme is returning for

2020, bigger and better than ever

before. Following a three-day

progression, the Arena will host a

number of sessions focusing on the

solving the current climate and

ecological crisis. These will be led by

politicians, academics and industry


Unmissable sessions include: 'The

future is regenerative' chaired by Peter

Murray, Chair of New London

Architecture (03 March). It will explore

how design and construction needs a

circular rethink. On day two (04 March)

London Mayoral Candidate Rory

Stewart will sit on a panel looking at

'Carbon neutral cities of the future' and

examine the pathway to healthier, more

resilient cities.

Also of interest will be a session on day

one (03 March) where the UK climate

policy will be scrutinised during the

session titled 'The climate crisis: Where's

the leadership? Do we need degrowth?'.

Lead by Aldersgate Group Chair Joan

Walley, this session will explore the

fundamental transformation that is

needed to alleviate the climate crisis and

will invite input from the audience.

While discussions on the Conference

Stage will focus on the biggest issues

facing the built environment at a macro

level, six Keynote Stages located

across the event will look at the specific

challenges impacting Buildings, Offsite,

Energy, Interiors, Resourceful Materials

and Critical Infrastructure. This

programme of solution-driven sessions

will share the latest thinking and

research, to educate, inform and inspire

visitors to make a positive change.

Each day, the six stages will host a

focused keynote presentation by a

recognised expert in their field.

The six Keynote Stages will address

the following challenges:

Buildings: retrofitted, re-used, net

positive and built to perform

Offsite: reliability and efficiency

combined with creative


Interiors: sustainable and health


Resourceful Materials: thinking

circular to reduce, reuse and


Energy: accurate data for carbon

accounting and reduced clean

energy usage

Critical Infrastructure: delivering

integrated green, grey, blue and

social infrastructure


January/February 2020

EVENT preview

Of particular interest to visitors will be

the Buildings section, which is

expanding for 2020 to include two new

showcase areas; the Whole House

Retrofit Zone and the Digital Impact

Zone. Here, visitors will have the

chance to discuss the various refurb

and retrofit solutions, both current and

in development, as well as the latest

developments in digital construction.

Interiors at Futurebuild 2020 will be a

leading destination for those seeking

inspiration across all areas of

commercial and domestic interiors.

Buyers and high-level decision makers

involved in student accommodation,

housebuilding, commercial fit-out,

social housing and the public sector

will have access to solutions covering

healthy buildings, kitchens, bathrooms,

surfaces and flooring.


Around each Keynote Stage will be an

exhibition of innovative brands, offering

unique solutions to the challenges

discussed in the companion knowledge

programme. It will feature some of the

largest headline brands in the sector,

alongside SMEs and start-up

organisations, creating a dedicated

platform to connect these companies with

forward-thinking specifiers and buyers.

Brands and organisations that are

leading the charge when it comes to

innovation will be recognised through a

dedicated Innovation Trail. A guided

route will take visitors on a journey

through the event, enabling them to

learn more about the latest thinking

from Futurebuild's Innovation Partners,

including ACO Technologies, Smart

Systems, CEMEX, Steico and Hadley



Championing innovation is the central

purpose of Futurebuild and the 2020

event will see the return of the Big

Innovation Pitch. Hosted across the

event, in conjunction with BRE as

technical partner, the competition will

be the industry's largest call-out for

innovation to date and will identify and

celebrate novel new approaches to

tackle of the biggest challenges facing

us all.

Entrants will present their groundbreaking

ideas on each of the six

Keynote Stages on day one, before

shortlisted entries go head-to-head in

the Arena on day two. A panel of

renowned judges will determine the

overall winning idea, which will be

incorporated into BRE Academy

Training and showcased in the BRE

Innovation Park.

Previous years have seen innovative

solutions, such as a sustainable

alternative to plywood produced from

mixed waste plastics and energy and

cost saving air-conditioning units, take

top spot.

Martin Hurn, Event Director of

Futurebuild added: "The responsibility

for tackling the climate emergency lies

in all of our hands and we must

collaborate in order to find solutions to

secure our future. Futurebuild 2020

provides the perfect platform for

forward-thinking decision makers

across the built environment to come

together and play a key part in driving

positive change.

"We understand that taking time out

of work to attend events can be a

challenge, which is why we will make

sure that visitors can really get

involved across a number of levels,

from the world class knowledge

programme in the arena and on the

keynote stages, to the showcase of the

latest innovations across the exhibition.

Innovation to us is more than just

futuristic ideas, it's about sharing the

latest thinking and ideas, processes

and solutions, products and materials.

All of these things coming together

under one roof at Futurebuild 2020 will

inspire people to do things differently

and create real change."

Through product showcases,

inspirational talks and collaborative

seminars, Futurebuild 2020 will make

innovation a tangible asset for visitors

to assess, develop and implement to

drive the industry towards one that is fit

for purpose and for the future.

For more information about Futurebuild

2020 visit:

January/February 2020 27


In association with:

An ERP primer

How do you define an ERP system? EasyBuild, winners of the ERP Solution of the Year award at the

2019 Construction Computing Awards, provide an insight into the requirements of such a solution to

David Chadwick

What exactly is ERP? Widely used

in the construction industry, the

acronym describes Enterprise

Resource Planning - the integrated

management of an enterprises main

business processes.

It's a bit of a fluid term though, as its

capable of being attached to any size of

company - from small contractors to

global institutions - with complex financial

and organisational requirements. The

basic elements remain the same however,

and have one overriding aim in mind,

namely to ensure that maximum efficiency

and profitability is achieved by integrating

all activities that have a bearing on the

way the enterprise is run. This means

going beyond financial control to include

things like employees, materials and

certain aspects of project management,

through to standards and process


The requirements of an ERP solution can

also differ according to the focus of the

company involved. EasyBuild, winners of

ERP Solution of the Year at the 2019

Construction Computing Awards, provide

just such a solution to building

contractors, housing developers and

service and maintenance companies.

Each of these have specific and

interesting requirements, especially those

involved in housebuilding, which exemplify

the varied role of any particular company's

ERP solution.

The main requirements of an effective

ERP solution are that it has to be easy to

use, capable of integrating information in

a number of different formats from a

variety of sources, and be able to store its

information in an accessible single silo or

cloud based server. The information held

therein has to be readily accessible to all

authorised users, either office based or

on-site, using mobile devices, delivering

up-to-date information to support critical



Speaking to EasyBuild’s CEO, Carol

Massay, described the effects of

EasyBuild for a number of new clients,

one of which was SPL, who we know was

victim of the fallout from the Carillion

collapse (which has already been well

documented in this magazine). EasyBuild

helped them to recover by providing an

ERP system that took control of their

financial systems.

Another recent client is in the process of

upgrading from a purely accounts based

solution. The step up from their previous

systems was described as a breath of

fresh air, significantly increasing the

amount and usefulness of information that

the ERP solutions are able to provide.

EasyBuild provides ERP solutions for

three distinct sectors of the construction

industry: building contractors,

housebuilders, service and maintenance.

Operating outside the accounts

department, which handles the financial

ledgers, payroll and other bread and

butter accounting functions, is the quantity

surveyors (QS) department, staffed by

chartered surveyors, whose function is to

evaluate the cost of current progress and

future liabilities of a project. This is

provided, as I am sure you all know, by a

CVR - Cost Value Reconciliation - report

which compares cost to value of a project

according to guidelines issued by the

Institute of Chartered Accountants.

Often ignored by smaller contractors, it is

an important tool in cost management

and forms the basis of statutory accounts.

Used properly, it helps companies identify

problems and the reasons for shortfalls in

the accounts. It also allows contractors to

identify and cost discrepancies in material

delivery and those not identified by a

client's QS, adjustments not recorded,

agreed on-site valuations or contractual

claims for loss or other expenditure.

In order to establish an accurate figure

from the confusion of a busy building site,

a couple of other elements need to be

included to provide a final residual margin

of profit or loss -subcontract liabilities for


January/February 2020


Before and after shots of a recent Durkan New

Homes development, Manor Place in

Elephant & Castle. EasyBuild was

originally developed exclusively for

the Durkan Group

be completed).

Besides the comprehensive workforce

management solution, EasyBuild's ERP

for the service and maintenance sector

includes fully integrated invoicing, which

handles both scheduled and reactive

maintenance tasks, and keeps an

audited asset history that details tasks,

dates, contractor or employee, and other

costs - repair, replacement or standard

maintenance of components. The service

and maintenance solution is also used

for defects management and snagging.

each discipline, snagging and defects

that need to be completed before

handover, or a levy to cover the cost of

defect repair. And, of course, the cost of

labour, material, and plant.



Just as important as CVR is CIS

compliance - the UK Government's

Construction Industry Scheme, which

establishes the standards under which

construction workers are to be employed.

Besides ensuring that changing

employment regulations are always

maintained, an ERP system will maintain

up to date details of employment and

qualifications of all employees, and, upon

entering the workforce will be subject to

auto-enrolment under the government's

pension plans.


Housebuilding is another fascinating

area, and EasyBuild has developed

components within its housebuilding

module to cater for the multiplicity of

clients - house buyers - and the

employment of freelance tradesmen on

each property. It does this by listing each

property on an estate, providing

information on its release, reservation,

exchange, legal completion and postsale

requirements, all of which feed

directly into the service and maintenance


All very natural, but it goes further than

that by managing incoming sales

enquiries and matching them with

available properties. The database also

includes supporting information so that

the sales office can easily identify the

status of each process. It can also be

used for scheduling ground rent billing.

Housebuilders typically develop

projects on multiple sites. Having a

suitable ERP solution like EasyBuild

allows them to allocate plant costs

between the builder's yard and individual

properties, and to allocate costs

accordingly to each property or site. It

even goes as far as allowing users to

segregate costs between tangible assets

like cement mixers and aggregated stock

like scaffolding boards.


Mobile working is key here, as it provides

cost benefits to the organisation to allow

engineers to start their jobs directly from

leaving home, rather than requiring costly

trips to the main office to pick up paper

jobsheets, for example.

An ERP solution for service and

maintenance companies has to provide

mobile technology, not least because of

the need to respond to a schedule of

planned and reactive maintenance tasks

and report on their completion.

EasyBuild operates on a traffic light-style

Service Level Agreement (SLA) system,

where each task has an associated

completion time against which progress

can be monitored (it's actually a fivecolour

SLA which can be used to

represent time left until a task should


EasyBuild has four main modules

underlying the three solutions:

Accountancy, Project Management,

Admin and HR, and Clients and Supply

Chain. Whilst the first three are selfevident,

the latter supports marketing,

CRM activities, the management of

communications with clients,

subcontractors and service providers. It

supports things like cumulative invoices

based on architects' certificates, and

provides a drill-down facility for the

provision of reports, outstanding

retention monies and standard debtor


The module also allows the creation and

management of lists of engineers,

architects other professionals,

companies and suppliers and maintain.

It also maintains record expertise,

qualifications, consultant orders and

professional indemnity insurances.

Backed up by an Oracle database and

professional document and report

production, it is evident that EasyBuild

has developed comprehensive ERP

solutions that meet the needs of three

important sectors of the construction


The challenge to come, however, will be

the changing regulations over the next

couple of years as the UK reorganises its

operating procedures following Brexit.

Ensuring that clients and customers are

kept informed of critical changes in the

industry and keeping software up to date

and complicit is another critical element

of an ERP system - one that EasyBuild is

in a perfect position to meet.

January/February 2020 29

INUSTRY comment

Digital Twins: double trouble or the Holy Grail

of digital estates?

By Stuart Bell, Sales & Marketing Director at GroupBC

The industry goes through phases of

adopting imaginative titles for ideas

and initiatives. For some time, we

have been fixated with 'the golden

thread' and more recently there have

been wider conversations around 'digital

twins'. The phrase 'digital twin' has been

around for longer than we think, but the

past few months have seen it rise to the

top as a key industry driver. So are digital

twins on track to be the Holy Grail of

construction, or are they just another fad

that could spell complexity, cost and

double trouble?

There have been many descriptions of

digital twins, but generally speaking they

can be summed up as 'a realistic digital

representation of something physical'.

What distinguishes a digital twin from

any other digital model is its connection

to the physical twin'.

On the face of it, the benefits of twins

are easy to see: they offer a way of

optimising the operation and

maintenance of physical assets, systems

and processes. By analysing the virtual

model, lessons can be learned and

opportunities exploited in the real

physical twin. They enable the bridge

between 'as built' and 'in operation',

providing clients with the ability to

assess, in real time, their estates and

make decisions based on fact.

However, as with many technological

advances, there can be challenges with

not only implementation, but the value of

these systems. So, how do we ensure

that digital twins provide a solid

foundation for the future of digital estates

and avoid the troubles that all too often

mean one step forwards, two steps back?

Ultimately, this boils down to the

communication between client and

supply chain, and understanding what

the overall objectives for digital twins are

for an asset owner. Part of this is

compiling a team which shares these

goals, and can implement the

technology across the business and

work directly with management to

provide the information they require. All

too often systems are procured by one

team and left to another to implement.

This is where it falls down.

The success of digital twins also hinges

on whether a business has a vision of

what they want the technology to

achieve. How do digital twins fit into a

business strategy? How much data

needs to be captured, curated and

mapped? All of these questions feed into

a case for digital twins. Often, however,

these questions are not communicated

when they should have been, leading to

an unfortunate level of ambiguity as to

why they were ever considered in the

first place.


In essence, a digital twin is a virtual

representation of a physical asset, which

provides up-to-date data on the real

world operation of a built asset. A digital

twin houses information on a given

asset, such as its objects and states.

Digital twins cover the entire lifecycle of a

building, connecting products and

services so they can be viewed and, if

necessary, acted upon during

construction and after handover to the

asset owner.

When it comes to unravelling a digital

twin's definition, industry professionals

up and down the supply chain must see

the digital twin as more than a file

containing everything which relates to an

asset. Yes it houses data, but it also

assures the information is spatiallyconnected

and held altogether in the

right place, to maximise productivity and

product performance.

A digital twin is, therefore, all about

connection. It would merely be a virtual

representation of a building with no realtime

value if the data within wasn't

connected to the physical asset.


January/February 2020

INDUSTRY comment

Think of a digital twin as a 'digital

superstructure' which connects different

systems and sensors together, through

a virtual representation of an asset. A

digital twin isn't something that sits in

isolation. Using sensors, it is bound to

the physical asset to give a true to life,

equal image of the built asset.



Although the industry has been hesitant

to adopt new technologies and ways to

work, it can unanimously agree that

digital twins are having a beneficial

effect across the supply chain; helping

to store and manage data, use data to

enhance the build and future operation

of an asset, and prevent risks.

Since the mid-1990s, the industry has

been trying to improve how its workforce

manages information. Email took over

from paper and this extended to the

internet, which provides a common

interface where information can be

accessed. The subsequent proliferation

of broadband and smartphones has

meant that the industry has been able to

capitalise on technology and make it

business as usual.

One of the key benefits of digital twins

will be how clients interrogate data and

use it for decision making. This could

include decisions around M&E and the

performance of specific components,

which may then reflect their future

specification decisions. It could also

help to improve service and

maintenance decisions, streamlining

processes and making cost savings

based on information received.


More often than not companies will

have different drivers for deciding to

adopt a digital twin, and the scale and

scope of adoption will vary from one

estate to another. For this reason the

concept of a digital twin is, at best,

dependent on the individual aims and

wishes of a client.

However, even though the definition of

digital twins can vary from one customer

to the next, there is still a high proportion

of the construction sector which is

unversed in the real-time, tangible

benefits this technology has to offer.

Many of them are still unsure of how

favourable digital twins are and whose

responsibility it is to manage them.

The responsibility of who owns the

digital twin when it is handed over to the

asset owner is a complex factor, which

puts to debate questions on ownership,

security and accountability.

Some may argue that administering

responsibility to all parties is a recipe for

digital chaos. The 'manager' should be

whoever the asset owner contractually

states. That way, the asset owner can

be very specific about how information

and data are presented and stored, and

who is responsible for updating

information models.

On the contrary, others in the industry

believe the digital twin is everyone's

responsibility: the operations and FM

teams, company administrators plus

key stakeholders. As the digital twin is

able to access and store live sensor

data, the supply chain will have to

procure information differently and

make better decisions to assure the

efficient performance of the physical

asset. For that reason, it is arguably

healthier for everyone to be speaking

the same language from the start.

What we can all agree on, however, is

the importance of security. If a digital

twin is left unmanaged, companies

have the threats of cyber-attack,

network hack and data theft, enabling

malicious individuals to gain access to

the physical asset and its connected

'twin'. Cyber-attacks cause severe

reputational and economic damage,

and place the safety of personnel and

assets in jeopardy. It is crucial then that

organisations highlight the parties

responsible for the management of the

digital twin and cybersecurity, to keep

threats at bay.


When it comes to adopting digital twins,

there are going to be challenges along

the way, both in terms of a change in

mindset and work process. One issue

will be around encouraging the

adoption of industry-wide naming

conventions - this is something that will

take time to unravel and agree upon! It

also needs to be understood that digital

twins can get old. Assets portfolios

change over time and one of the key

challenges will be ensuring the

guardian of the digital twin is kept

updated on developments, so the data

can be kept up to date.

For example, whether it is minor

refurbishment work or alterations to a

building, all information would need to

be fed back into the digital twin to

ensure it continues to be a like-for-like

replica of the actual building. Without

this, the twin will expire and cease to

serve its purpose.

With all these points in mind, surely

digital twins (geolocated within a

broader digital ecosystem or estate) are

the Holy Grail, providing clients with the

information needed to make informed

decisions. Over time, digital twins will

enable asset owners and estate

managers to improve how they manage

their various properties/built assets and

implement strategies to improve the

quality of these, whilst saving costs

across product specification,

maintenance and alterations. The

potential benefits should make digital

twins the ultimate goal for every large

estate owner.

There are going to be hurdles along

the way, but the barriers are more a

case of a change in work culture than

'double trouble'. The benefits of digital

twins are easy to recognise; the

industry's real battle is ensuring its

workforces have the training and will to

make them a reality.

To learn more about the digital twin

debate, download GroupBC's

whitepaper, 'Digital Twins - Double

Trouble or the Holy Grail of Digital


January/February 2020 31





6/10 9 7 1




17 11/13 18 20




40 32



25 26/19









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Gordon McGlathery

Tel: 0141 354 8993

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Tel: 01592 223330

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Tel: 01467 629900



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Tel: 01224 223321



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Tel: 01992 807500

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Contact: Richard Willis

Tel: 01488 689005

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Tel: +44 (0) 2890 455 355

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Southampton, Hants. SO40 3WX

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Training Centre

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Under the surface

MGISS and vGIS bring Augmented Reality to 3D mapping and BIM

You may have assumed that being

able to visualise subterranean

plumbing, sewers and drains,

electric cabling, gas pipes, fibre optic

cables and other underground assets

using your iPad or laptop already features

in the toolset of civil engineers and utility

company employees. But the fancy

promotional images that will have led you

to this conclusion are typically mock-ups

that show you what could be achieved if

you have the subsurface model data that

they need.

However there are companies that do pull

all the technologies together to provide

such a solution, and more importantly

create the links to the various models that

contain the information they need - BIM and

CAD models that describe the subsurface

components, and GIS information that

places them in situ. What has really driven

the process forward, though, is the

emergence of Augmented Reality (AR), the

integration of digital information with data

models taken from any form of reality

capture tools footage to facilitate and

enhance the viewing experience.


AR is no longer just a marketing tool. The

development of Augmented Reality as a

tool to manage and visualise hidden

infrastructure assets has now taken a

major step forward following the

announcement of a partnership between

two technology companies. MGISS, a UK

geospatial specialist, has partnered with

Canada based vGIS to transform

traditional GIS, BIM and CAD data into

stunning AR visualisations.

Augmented Reality provides the

interactive experience of an environment

where objects that reside in the real world,

such as underground pipes, are displayed

and enhanced with additional intelligence

such as attribute information and

maintenance records.

A specialist in the use of geospatial

technology in the utility, infrastructure and

environment sectors, MGISS understands

the demands for improved spatial data

quality and the requirement to

communicate complex, asset dense 3D

environments in an easy to consume way.

By combining authoritative survey grade

positions and associated data with

consumer grade hardware, MGISS

enables users of vGIS to access

Augmented Reality visualisations from any

suitable smart device.

vGIS is the leading augmented and

mixed reality visualisation technology for

GIS data. Using the vGIS system, field

personnel can see an augmented view that

includes holographic infrastructure objects,

improving environmental assessments and

increasing situational awareness.


Besides providing civil engineering

companies and utilities with the ability to

explore underground infrastructure prior to

digging up the tarmac, the BIM

components and working processes that

they will be accessing are primarily

designed to encourage collaboration

between stakeholders, contractors and

workforces. Taking a lead from the

construction industry, it is to be hoped that

the same spirit of cooperation between the

various utilities and civil engineering

companies will result in more efficient

handling of infrastructure projects. This

would eliminate the costly and proverbial

practice of the electricity company digging

up the road and filling it back in, only to be

followed closely by British Gas repeating

the process!


MGISS and vGIS are keen to bring their

solution to the UK, and there is no doubt

that the market's expectations and

requirements are neatly falling into place as

AR technology becomes more prevalent in

other industries. Their credentials in this

critical environment are neatly expressed

by the two founders.

According to Mike Darracott, Managing

Director and founder of MGISS, "Initiatives

such as digital twinning and the

expectation of 'Business As Usual'

operations require the capture and

representation of increasingly complex

real-world environments. Asset owners

and operators face a number of

challenges and opportunities including the

need to improve safety, reduce risk and

ensure what lies beneath our feet meets

future infrastructure needs. vGIS truly

understand the needs and the challenges

facing these sectors. In fact, vGIS goes

further than any other AR solution by

providing a full range of 3D spatial data

capabilities; all within a platform that works

with existing enterprise systems and data

structures," added Darracott.

"Value is often hidden deep within the

structure of data. By helping people "see"

data in more intuitive ways, they gain new

insights and can subsequently do more

with that information. That's been the core

operating philosophy of vGIS," commented

Alec Pestov, founder and CEO of Canada

based vGIS. "To achieve this we are

building an ecosystem bringing together

top experts to work jointly towards a

common goal. MGISS possesses deep

expertise in the spatial services and

solutions sector and we are looking forward

to joining forces to deliver augmented and

mixed reality visualisations in the UK."


January/February 2020

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