BIM and Autodesk the Chetwoods way
“On many of our projects we work in a BIM environment because it is the most efficient way for us to work, regardless of whether or not the client has asked for a BIM approach. Ensuring that our software portfolio is always up-to-date is part of a long-term strategy to be 100% BIM capable across the business. Excitech keeps us well informed and makes sure our licences match our needs and our clients’ expectations of our skills, knowledge, and methodologies.” Alex Crane - Associate
Established by Laurie Chetwood in 1988, Chetwoods – with offices in London and Birmingham – believe that architecture is a vital platform for progress that affects our health, outlook and attitudes, and that its benefits can be profound.
Chetwoods have a wealth of experience designing and delivering complex schemes across a range of sectors. The firm uses a mix of rigorous thinking and radical creativity to explore and push the boundaries of architecture; always looking for new, better and original ways to do things.
Their commitment to a strong collaborative approach has enabled them to build long partnering relationships with many clients, where the ability to deliver to quality, cost and time constraints is paramount. To achieve these goals, Chetwoods have developed a robust and original internal design management approach, which includes a Charrette process. The Charrette process helps provide a foundation for collaboration across the whole design team ensuring dialogue, involvement, feedback and viability on all design schemes.
Investing in the future
Chetwoods have partnered with Excitech for advice and guidance in managing their Autodesk licences, taking away the time-consuming tasks involved and enabling Chetwoods to focus on their work, as opposed to the administration of their licences. Taking a consultative approach, Excitech advise them on latest changes affecting this technology (such as Autodesk’s move to subscription) and the decisions they need to make to enable the firm to prepare for the future. Excitech look forward to accompanying Chetwoods on the next leg of their journey.
Chetwoods and Building Information Modelling
There is a natural fit between the firm’s commitment to collaborative processes, both internally and externally, and its determination to stake a position at the forefront of BIM adoption. In the company’s literature, it states:
“We use BIM across the practice to ensure seamless collaboration, communication and control between all partners involved in the planning, design, delivery and management of a building. BIM also provides the flexibility to integrate, interrogate and improve a design as required throughout the different stages of a project.” says Adam Timmins - Senior Architectural Technician (BIM).
Sainsbury’s Digital Lab
Chetwoods explain that their work on the Digital Lab at the Sainsbury’s head office in London is a good example of BIM being used across the whole design team. The project involved rationalising an existing basement catering facility to free up space for the creation of a new flexible, collaborative working environment for Sainsbury’s expanding Digital Services Team.
Sainsbury's Digital Lab - Photo Credit David Churchill
This space is designed to encourage and facilitate creativity and collaboration within a 180-strong team of digital experts who create and test the digital shopping solutions that are a core part of the company’s business strategy. The challenge for Chetwoods came in the limited space available for its intended purpose and number of occupants.
Clever planning using BIM tools allowed a new mezzanine level to be inserted into unused space discovered above an existing basement catering facility, increasing net usable space by more than 300 sqm, making the existing space more efficient, and providing flexibility for future expansion.
“Autodesk Revit software was invaluable in being able to assess the existing space available to insert a new mezzanine level and to co-ordinate the various design team elements before we got to site. When the project started we were able to assist the site team in describing the type of spaces we wanted to create by showing them the federated model on site using Autodesk 360. We were looking to blend the traditional industrial feel of the space with modern working practices close to the heart of the Sainsbury’s digital team, such as Activity Based Working (ABW)”, says Alex Crane – Associate
ABW approaches enable staff to work in groups dictated by project requirements and to change their settings to work where they need to, even varying the space they use during the day. The Digital Lab space needed to deliver not only the functionality to support this approach but the flexibility and variety to provide creative stimulus.
As a long-standing framework partner to Sainsbury’s, it’s likely that at some point in the future they may decide to recalibrate the Digital Lab space to suit current working practices. One of the benefits of BIM is that Sainsbury’s will already have a data-rich model of the space which they can use and adapt as required to explore alternative options.
Sainsbury's Digital Lab - Bird's eye view
Magna Park: Plot 330
Another project that Chetwoods cites as an example of using Revit software and a BIM approach was part of IDI Gazeley’s Magna Park development at Milton Keynes.
For this project, known as ‘Plot 330’, Chetwoods used Revit from the planning stage through to final construction; from the design team through to the structural engineers there was considerable reliance on BIM. Chetwoods used other consultants’ BIM models at the pre-planning stage to help produce a coordinated, efficient and validated scheme. Prior to planning, the entire building and site were modelled to enable almost 100% of the deliverables to be taken from the model for efficiency and coordination purposes. To increase productivity, previous families and details were re-used where applicable.
Toward the end of construction, and shortly after, Chetwoods produced a number of 360 panoramic views showing how the office could be fitted out by future tenants. These are produced directly from the model using design options and the cloud-based rendering facility provided by Autodesk. These views can be shared via SMS, email or simply adding QR codes to drawings. In the case of Plot 330, the QR codes were printed and stuck onto a wall or floor matching the location of the Revit camera. This can then be scanned and viewed on any smartphone or tablet.
BIM Image of the finished project blended with a Revit rendered image of the building internals.
BIM according to Chetwoods
"We use BIM across the practice to ensure seamless collaboration, communication and control between all partners involved in the planning, design, delivery and management of a building. BIM also provides the flexibility to integrate, interrogate and improve a design as required throughout the different stages of a project.
As architects we can provide data rich models that can be used by the rest of the design team. As Lead Designers we also offer services to co-ordinate project teams and their models. We have also helped clients to develop BIM protocols and execution plans, working with them to identify key asset information to minimise their costs.
We participate in a number of BIM working groups to ensure we keep up to date with the latest technologies and industry standards. To date, we have completed 9,000,000 sqft of projects covering a range of sectors within a BIM environment with a further 4,000,000 sqft on site this year.
The benefits of BIM:
- Fewer design changes
- Improved cost certainty
- Fewer errors before projects are taken to site
- Visualisation and virtual reality integration
- Integrated programming and sequencing
- Better building management data
Smarter, more efficient working”
Information kindly supplied by Chetwoods
Excitech is the largest Autodesk Platinum Partner in the UK.
“For many years, Excitech have been instrumental in keeping us in touch with the complex world of software licensing. Without their insights, making the right decisions about how to configure our own licensing arrangements would take much longer and we would probably end up over or under-licensed. We trust Excitech to provide us with clear and accurate information to guide our software investment in the future.” Alex Crane – Associate