BIM – SAFRA Toa Payoh

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BIM – SAFRA Toa Payoh
by Sim Jie Han

The redevelopment of Safra Toa Payoh is one of the pilot projects using Revit BIM (Building Information Modeling) software within CPG consultants. The proposed design of Safra Toa Payoh consists of 5-story clubhouse along with entertainment facilities like a bowling alley, swimming pools and a childrens’ playhall. The project is presently at tender preparation stage. With CPG providing Architectural, M&E, C&S and QS consultancy services, the project is an excellent trial of the possibilities and limits of BIM between the various allied professions.

In contrast to the traditional approach of preparing 2D Autocad drawings for authorities submission and tender, the project is using Revit to do up a 3-dimensional model for both processes. As this is something new, the knowledge and experiences gained from this project would be a useful, if not important, reference for future CPG projects doing BIM.

Why BIM?

View from the landscape forecourt at the carpark level. Note the organic form of the curtain wall

One may wonder what is the whole fuss with this BIM thingy when the old system of 2D drawings is working pretty well. Initially, I also had the same feelings. Revit does not have the modeling ease of Sketchup; nor does it have the efficiency of drafting like Autocad. It appears to be one big clunky, resource intensive, bloated program, so what gives?

The Revit Model of Safra Toa Payoh. Revit makes it possible to model organic forms easily. Information of the curtain wall can also be captured.

With time, the benefits of Revit slowly came through. The primary benefit is coordination. As the model is in 3D, it enables the designer to identify unresolved areas or where there is a conflict between services, structure and architectural space. This would lead to less corrective work downstream during construction. In SAFRA Toa Payoh, the storeys are tucked into the slightly sloping terrain and 3D visualization enables easy understanding of the interfacing between building and topography. M&E engineers can also verify that their services are integrated with the design.

We also realized that the drawing / sheet setups within Revit could potentially save us a lot of time. We could quickly cut various sections and elevation views for either study or presentation, something that could have easily taken up to half a day in 2D to produce. The parametric capabilities of Revit also allowed us to change predefined parameters like height and width on doors and windows and this are automatically reflected on all the drawings from plan to elevation. In addition, the sheet setups for tender sets can be duplicated as a template to be reused in future projects.

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The parametric drawing interface that links plan, elevation, sections and detail plans. 

Unrealized potentials
We are still at the learning stage and there is much to learn about harnessing the power of BIM. I believe that we have to yet to fully maximize the potential of parametric design and this should be improved on with future projects.

Revit allows us to do scheduling of items like doors and windows. Currently, this work process is done manually and is often tedious with a high possibility of error. With Revit, it’s possible to generate schedules directly and we’d love to acquire this capability.

The potential for QS services is also huge with Revit. There is currently no established workflow to get Revit come in to estimate the amount of material like concrete and glass used in the project. This could potentially be a tremendous time saver to generate QS estimates.

Revit also has a relatively unexplored function where project phasing can be visualized. This may become very handy for large multi-phased developments to improve planning efficiency and reduce waste.

But still…
Even then, I still think that there is plenty of skepticism out there on BIM. Why fix something when it ain’t broke? Fundamentally, 2D drawings and BIM are different creatures and it is a huge challenge to make the transition but at CPG, we should all the more be heading in this direction.

With the current push to raise productivity, BIM modeling is something that would be of great interest. It is not too far fetched to envisage the day where authorities submissions are all mandated in BIM. Why so? The answer is information flow.

Not only does the 3D interface make for easy understanding of the project, as the model would contain various material properties like U-values, shading coefficients and fire resistance. Suppliers overseas are already providing architects and designers with their products in Revit models with all the material and performance specifications. It is entirely possible that plug-ins would be developed to exploit that information to automate calculations of ETTV, Green Mark or simulate rainwater drainage flow. In fact, there are already tools on the market from vendors like IES that can take the model and generate a LEED evaluation. This is something that the traditional 2D interface is completely unable to do.

At CPG, we are unique as we are capable of delivering the whole spectrum of consultancy services. The BIM approach increases our capability to deliver such integrated solutions with greater efficiency. With the early uptake now, CPG would stand to build a significant competitive advantage in time to come over our competitors in the region and abroad.♦

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