Create Design : Workflow overhaul makes an ambitious project a reality

Many architectural projects evolve as they move nearer to completion, but few undergo as many changes as the Ratcliff, East London site that Create Design was tasked with. Initially, the project involved the construction of a block of 33 apartments; subsequently a second and then a third building was added to the brief.

For Create Design, adopting BIM and ARCHICAD was a decision that made the process more flexible and more intuitive.

Caroline Street project was Create Design’s first ARCHICAD-based project.
Caroline Street project was Create Design’s first ARCHICAD-based project.

Create Design is a London-based architectural studio that prioritises sustainability and placemaking. With an emphasis on collaborative design the studio is tailor-made for Graphisoft’s BIM software, which it uses to improve urban, residential, commercial, and educational spaces with designs that are intelligent, sustainable, and aesthetically pleasing.

First ARCHICAD Project Meant Jumping in at the Deep End for Create Design

Paul Bedson is an architectural assistant at Create, and a Graphisoft-certified BIM manager. He notes that when Create took on the job, they received only limited information from the previous architectural studio. Create Design needed to get stuck into the project quickly in order to turn it around, and they did so with the help of BIM and ARCHICAD.

It just so happened that the Caroline Street project was Create Design’s first ARCHICAD-based project. Previously, the studio had been using AutoCAD and SketchUp, but with the Caroline Street project, decided to take the plunge into fully 3D design. It proved to be the right decision, as this shift in perspective allowed the team to get up to speed much more quickly than they might otherwise have done.

Paul Bedson notes that “ARCHICAD has definitely proved to be the best choice for the studio.”

As is usual for Creative, the Caroline Street team worked in a highly collaborative fashion, and using Graphisoft’s product made that collaboration more smooth and seamless. It also allowed for a great degree of flexibility. That flexibility became highly important in this project, due to numerous changes the developer made during the design process.

ARCHICAD 3D cut away
ARCHICAD 3D cut away

“We had four or five people working on the Caroline Street project most of the time. They were up to speed very quickly and we were able to produce around 100 different iterations of the design to meet the developer’s changing brief. Fortunately, with ARCHICAD, we could make these changes quickly and easily.”

The shift from 2D to 3D design can be a steep learning curve, especially on such a demanding project as the Caroline Street brief. But ARCHICAD offers a wide range of benefits that more than make up for the learning curve. For instance, Paul Bedson also notes that the new software was more intuitive, as well as more cost-effective, than the 2D software they had previously been using. Making the move to become 3D designers also meant that they could collaborate more effectively with other teams involved in the project.

Paul says, “Previously, when we were coordinating with structural engineers, we used 2D drawings and overlays. On this project, we used IFC data exchange for the first time and the process was a two-way data exchange and conversation. ARCHICAD is a very powerful tool to use in this respect, and it enabled us to work much more closely with the structural engineers, spotting clashes and addressing a multitude of conflicts that could otherwise have been easily missed.”

BIMx Adds Clarity to an Ever-Changing Design Brief for Create Design

When Creative took over the Caroline Street project, the brief involved the demolition of a former industrial site, followed by the construction of a block of 33 apartments. But it wasn’t long before the brief changed to include a second block of units, with a mixture of studio apartments, as well as one, two, and three-bedroom apartments. Then, the brief changed again, to include a third building, for a total of 93 units, as opposed to the original 33.

The 3D element Allows Create Design to include Improved Collaborative Process, Communication, and Productivity
The 3D element Allows Create Design to include Improved Collaborative Process, Communication, and Productivity

ARCHICAD and the BIMx mobile app was invaluable for the Design team working on the project. The 3D rendering environment provided by BIMx allowed the team to explain design decisions to the client, at a point where the brief was changing on a regular basis. Being able to show the client 3D models simplified the process and helped the team speed up their work on the various iterations of the design.

“BIMx is great. You can access the model anywhere, view the design from all sides, walk or fly through the interior to get a realistic view of the spaces. Plus you don’t need to have a copy of ARCHICAD on your device to view the models.”

The project was further complicated by the presence of a Grade II listed facade, which had to be preserved. Create used simple software features to highlight this area, to clearly show which areas the demolition process would have to avoid.

3D Design Allows Improved Collaborative Process, Communication and Productivity

Creative’s emphasis on collaborative work makes Graphisoft’s Teamwork an essential component of the design process. The Teamwork software allows multiple people to work on models simultaneously, which has allowed the studio to overhaul and improve its workflow.

“This has marked a sea change for our workflows and it’s become an integral part of how we work, improving our productivity and efficiency enormously. Now, we’re using ARCHICAD for all new projects. We can have one senior architect overseeing multiple projects, which has greatly improved efficiency in our studio and has enabled us to take on more work.”

The improved collaborative process isn’t the only benefit the studio has gained from switching to ARCHICAD. They’ve also noticed an improvement in communication processes, too, both within the studio and between Create and other teams involved in the projects they’re working on.

On the Caroline Street project the team were able to use ARCHICAD to provide information to structural engineers, mechanical engineers, and the client, in the formats most relevant to each party. That ease of information exchange has proven instrumental in moving forward with the build.

Currently the Caroline Street project has achieved planning permission for the first two phases, with permission for the third phase under consideration. From there, work on the final phase of the project can begin.