Interview

Digital design

  • Kazuhiro Ito

    In charge of structural design, Environmental Technology Division

  • Tomoyuki Furukawa

    In charge of architectural design, Design Division

  • Kazuyuki Harada

    In charge of mechanical equipment design, Environmental Technology Division

Development of a new design workflow incorporating BIM/digital design

1.About BIM

Q. How do you see the state of BIM implementation in the construction industry today?

This year marks the tenth anniversary since BIM came into use in Japan in 2009, and with the establishment of the BIM/CIM Promotion Committee by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, the implementation of BIM in the architecture and construction industries is at a major turning point. Designers working at large architectural design firms will be required to have a deep understanding of BIM and new skills to effectively use it in their designs.

Q. What is the situation of BIM implementation in Kume Sekkei?

Kume Sekkei has been working on it under the slogan, “Designers putting BIM into action.” Rather than leaving it to others, the designers have implemented a variety of The members of the BIM Working Group are actively taking up BIM, and we have an environment that allows for direct input from designers, including the latest equipment, software, and add-on development.

2.Design outline and BIM workflow

Q. How do you incorporate BIM in your design work?

In the case of S Hospital, for example, we developed a BIM workflow from the basic design to the final design, building confirmation application, and site supervision utilizing mainly Revit, and the entire design process was carried out using BIM.

Q. Please describe the outline of the project.

It is a regional core hospital with 400 beds planned for construction on a vast site of approximately 70,000 m2. Instead of the podium type hospital where the inpatient wards are located on the lower floors, as is often the case with conventional hospitals, it is a branch type hospital where the inpatient wards are arranged parallel to each other at the lower levels. In addition, we frequently conduct verifications and simulations utilizing BIM to integrate structural and environmental problem solving and design.

Q. What is the benefit of designing with BIM?

Because hospitals are complex buildings with so many rooms and fittings, area management and handling of parts (families), including fittings, as a database by BIM enable us to design more efficiently. This is exactly what BIM (Building Information Modeling) is all about. The advantage of “information,” which is the essence of BIM, is utilized to its full potential. As I will discuss later, one of its attractive features is that it enables us to conduct various simulations and VR validations seamlessly using BIM models.

In addition, we established a Revit collaboration environment utilizing a cloud server in cooperation with a team from KDA (KUME Design Asia) in Vietnam and performed tasks together in real time while working on the same data with them. One of Kume Sekkei's characteristics is that we have started to look towards overseas collaboration by utilizing a cloud server from an early stage.

3.Design that integrates aesthetic design, environmental design, and structural design

Q. What is your specific approach to digital design?

For one of the two blocks, the six-story reinforced-concrete building inpatient ward, we proposed the outframe louvers that doubles as a louver and structural frame to reduce the solar load on the patients' rooms, and conducted parametric design by combining Rhinoceros+Grasshopper and Revit.

The shape that minimizes the annual solar load to the patient rooms is determined by an algorithm and calculated in an integrated manner so that they are structurally effective at the same time. Previously, a lot of manual work had to be done repeatedly, but by using this optimization method, we feel that we have been able to study the environmental impact reduction simulation, the structural planning and the design of the façade in an integrated manner.

It is true that there still is a shortage of human resources who have these skills, but the other side of the coin is that there are more opportunities for young people to be successful using these new technologies. In fact, this simulation and design were mainly developed by our young members and incorporated into the façade design.

Q. Other than the simulation, how did you incorporate BIM into the design?

The two-story podium is a steel frame and steel reinforced concrete construction, and the construction system is switched between the central and peripheral sections of the building. The steel reinforced concrete section has an earthquake-resistant core, while the surrounding steel frame structure section consists of 300 millimeter diameter pin column structure to match the pilotis type transparent exterior façade. Here, a structural BIM model automatically converted from in-house developed integrated structural calculation program STEP during the schematic design phase and an architectural BIM model were superimposed to quickly verify the results. Verification for consistency, which would have taken several hours to complete, can be completed in only a few minutes, leading to less inconsistencies.

As for the mechanical equipment design, we used the Revit-Excel add-on that we had developed, the Specification Sheet Linkage System (tentative), to directly link room information in Revit and the Excel equipment specification sheet. Because it enabled plan changes and area changes to be automatically reflected in mechanical equipment design information, we were able to respond to design changes flexibly and the burden on mechanical engineers was reduced. We plan to utilize the system for cost estimates, energy conservation calculations, and facility management (FM) in the future.

It is great to have structural engineers and mechanical engineers on a project team, where the design of the project is not simply a matter of architectural design but of integrating engineering and design together. I think Kume Sekkei has the environment and the atmosphere for such a challenge.

4.Presentations and operational efficiency improvement with BIM

Q. When you think of BIM, you think of things like 3D presentations. How was BIM utilized for this purpose?

We made efforts to create presentations by linking the visualization software Lumion to Revit. It enables high-quality perspective drawings and videos to be output from design models, so we utilized these presentations to share images with the client and build a consensus among all the parties concerned at an early stage.
In addition, we started working on VR at an early stage and have been giving presentations using the latest equipment and software, such as VIVE, Oculus, Fuzor, and Twinmotion. We actually brought the equipment into the conference room to allow the parties concerned to experience the building we designed in VR. We can also utilize VR to validate our designs because it lets you experience full-scale designs and be in the shoes of, for example, people who are in a wheelchair or patients lying in bed. Kume Sekkei has a VR room that offers an environment that enables anyone to conduct VR validation that is linked to the BIM software.

Furthermore, we implement a BIM workflow in the on-site design supervision. We are making efforts to solve problems at an early stage, prevent reworking, and improve design quality by making designers take the lead in holding a BIM model validation meeting, involving general contractors and companies specializing in construction.

Q. How do you gather the latest information?

We are members of many external organizations, such as RUG (Revit User Group), and share the latest information and conduct joint research with leaders in the industry.

In addition, we established the BIM Knowledge Database to share information within the company. Because it allows you to swiftly share your questions like “how do I work on this?” and cases online, everyone can obtain the latest information at any time.

5.Future vision

Q. What do you think is the future of Kume Sekkei's BIM and digital designs?

Japan's BIM is still developing and has many issues. So, it is very important that designers work on BIM and digital design.

As Kume Sekkei's BIM still needs some work, we need people who have skills and are eager to take on new challenges.

We will need a flexible attitude to incorporate the various technologies such as generative design, utilization of AI and big data, and integration with FM into the designs, and if we keep working in the same old way, we will not be able to survive the competition. It is not too much to say that the whole idea of design will change. Kume Sekkei is prepared to take on those challenges. I guess teams with new perspectives and an eye towards the future will create a better future for architecture.

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