Practice Digital Collaboration
DC Digitial Collaboration
Recent advances in digital collaboration technologies and practices represent the most exciting developments in building design and development since computer aided design.

Digital Collaboration

These advances also represent a step change in the way design teams can work and collaborate to produce a better product. They create the potential to create buildings which are more efficient and aligned to client need whilst making use of all available space. At the same time these technologies and practices facilitate more interactive design and enable the creation of digital platforms which can be used during construction, handover and ongoing operation easing first occupation and use of new (and sometimes refurbished) buildings.

Central to these approaches is Building Information Modelling (BIM). We have an extensive track record of successfully delivering projects in BIM an see it as an integral tool in facilitating collaborative design within the context of increasingly complex built environment projects. Utilising BIM helps the design team to improve coordination, reduce risk and provide improved data rich information at all stages of the project. The coordination of the model between different design team members enables all to gain a greater appreciation of the requirements of all disciplines during design, significantly improving collaboration and ultimately improving the delivery and quality of our designs.

Working in a BIM environment forms a key part of our delivery model, allowing us to design in the model to optimise plant and riser space, identify, develop and maximise opportunities for prefabrication or modular construction. It also allows improved design team coordination, reduced project risk and improved programme certainty while increasing confidence throughout the design and construction phase.

On our recent Hanover Square Crossrail project, BIM allowed us to deliver a robust and coordinated design for an extremely complex project incorporating 123,257 discrete elements, 11.6 km of cable containment, 28km of pipework and 9.5 km of ductwork. Other examples of successfully completed projects include 20 Fenchurch Street, 240 Blackfriars Road, 25 Churchill Place and 12 ‐ 14 Fetter Lane, along with an extensive list of live projects where we are successfully applying BIM processes and technologies to create benefits for our clients.

But we don’t stop there. We are constantly looking to enhance our digital capabilities and have created bespoke templates in Revit to speed up workflows and productivity along with introducing new tools such as Solibri, Revizto, Dynamo and BCF to further improve collaboration capabilities and introduce robust validation to our designs. Led by our Head of BIM, Dave Lee, the practice has also pioneered the use of scripting within Dynamo for Revit, our practices primary authoring tool. This has allowed us to automate the vast majority of administrative or repetitive tasks, allowing our designers to spend more time actually thinking about design along with improving interoperability with our scientific scenario driven softwares.

Currently we are experimenting with Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies to further enhance our models and provide designers and clients early insight into emerging design.


Digital Collaboration Case studies

Kings Cross S1 & S2: BIM

We have worked with Argent for a number of years and were pleased to be appointed to deliver the engineering services design for two recent buildings at their large Kings Cross campus in London – known as Building S1 and Building S2. The first, S2, commenced in 2013 and Argent – who always adopt a ground breaking approach – included the requirement for an advanced Revit model for the whole scheme in the design deliverables in order to clearly and accurately define the Employer’s Requirements to the contractors. To this end, we used Revit and BIM technology with the team from the outset of project S2 and then took the lessons learnt on S2 to refine the delivery protocol of the second building, S1. This enabled both cost and time savings in design, team coordination, and pre and post construction procurement and delivery, resulting in the project requirements being successfully delivered on time.

The two buildings were however not the same, so the design approach had to adapt given the differing criteria set out below:

Building S2

  • Pre-let to a single anchor tenant
  • Shell and core design plus notional Cat A
  • Conventional false ceiling installation
  • Large double height basement installation
  • Hybrid CAD / BIM deliverable as requested

Building S1

  • Speculative multi-tenanted building
  • Shell and core design plus Cat A design all 12 floors
  • Exposed services installation
  • Thameslink rail tunnels, restricted the basement size, requiring an innovative top down distribution strategy
  • 203,000+ 3D modelled elements, all with Uniclass coding classification
  • Approved issue free model

Depiction of MEP Services design in Revit has evolved significantly in the last few years, an evolution which has been particularly evident during the two year lifespan of these projects. We have gone from using Revit to provide validation and demonstration of coordination with architectural and structural elements, to the point we are at now, where the Revit MEP model forms the core of the overall services design with all services layouts created and designed in the model using the appropriate design software.

On S1 in particular, the client’s desire to expose high level services which would ordinarily be concealed behind a ceiling has driven a greater degree of collaboration within the design team to refine the details of the services design so that it might meet the aesthetic standards and intent of the architectural design.

The adoption of the Revit model as the hub of the MEP design has enabled the production of an enhanced level of coordinated design information with the wider team, allowing design principles to be tested before tender, whilst still achieving a reduction in the overall design programme of approximately 20%. Whilst the level of detail in early design significantly increased our workload, the benefit to Argent is a fully co-ordinated and robust design and hence set of Employers Requirements, enabling contractors to understand the scheme, price less risk, mobilise more rapidly, and reduce the number of technical and design queries, ultimately saving time and cost.

We have been developing a new generation of ‘digital engineers’ and a new breed of engineering capability in order to capitalise on the technology. Trained engineers now use their authoring tools and skills to deliver the highest quality of coordinated design once, without the need for ‘drafters’. This project has also allowed us to enhance our workflow and management systems and develop new procedures to create an enhanced client and design team experience with total transparency of design, aligned to the PAS1192 theories of Level 2 BIM.

The evolution of these two similar yet different buildings illustrates the significant advances made by Hilson Moran – using available technology and working closely with the design team in the application of BIM technology, we are creating significant benefits to our clients and they agree.

Argent commented that “…working with Hilson Moran across multiple plots on our King’s Cross development has allowed us to continually refine our approach and drive knowledge between projects. The BIM model developed for Plot S1 is highly coordinated in response to the complex demands of the site and affords certainty across the project in terms of performance, cost and aesthetics.”

Hilson Moran @HilsonMoran