Architecture is a highly collaborative business. Keeping numerous stakeholders – owners, architects, engineers, general contractors, utilities, permitting agencies, fabricators, suppliers and subcontractors – on the same page is a daunting task.
With so many players, the industry’s traditional, tried-and-true method for communication has been to develop dense and detailed drawing packages, which are then rolled into tubes and delivered by courier or overnight mail. As soon as drawings are received changes occur, requiring the revision, production and delivery of an entirely new set.
Today, with international projects and teams spread across the globe, such as they are for the Botswana Innovation Hub in Gaborone, the importance of having an efficient and effective system for project communication is greater than ever. In the hub’s spirit of innovation, SHoP proposed a new approach: hosting our Building Information Model (BIM) on the cloud.
Cloud-based collaboration makes project data accessible over the Internet through a standard web browser. The cloud provides all project stakeholders with easy, equal, and real-time access to the most up-to-date designs, regardless of location and without the time and material costs associated with traditional coordination methods. Team members access the model at their convenience, mark elements for discussion and suggest improvements. As changes are posted, our system automatically alerts the people who need to address them. Likewise, when solutions are posted, the system sends a notice to stakeholders to review them, speeding project completion and eliminating bottlenecks.
As the Botswana Innovation Hub moves into the construction phase, our 3D BIM on the cloud will allow us to present the client with a method of managing a complex project within the constraints of available budget and labor. By outlining a template-based modeling approach, we will be able to move the complexity of fabrication to automated milling, creating a straightforward assembly sequence for the local tradesmen. Distilling the process in this way eases owner concerns and provides a road map for successful project delivery.
We can deliver the advanced design we proposed because the technology we use enables it. Our partners are particularly proud of the fact that the model will make it possible for the local laborers to operate in a virtual design and construction project. The skills they learn will prepare them to work in this new environment.
Cloud-based collaboration began at SHoP as an experiment. For projects like the Botswana Innovation Hub, it has the potential to become a game-changer. ◆