Award-winning Hudson Architects, based in Norwich and London is delivering a new hotel on the Isle of Islay in Scotland. We spoke to John Nortcliffe, Head of Commercial about how the studio is approaching and overcoming some of the challenges of this complex project.
Hudson Architects ‘The Machrie’
‘The Machrie’ is a 47-bedroom hotel and 18-hole championship links golf course, set in the sand dunes of Laggan Bay on the West coast of Islay in the Inner Hebrides.
Part of the existing hotel has been retained and fully refurbished. To the rear, a new courtyard and wings have been built offering a new 1st floor restaurant overlooking the Atlantic, private dining facilities, cinema, spa and gym as well as new bedrooms.
This island location has driven a need for the design team to communicate efficiently with the contractor to enable them to work together cost-effectively.
The scale and complexity of this project in such a remote island location demands that we produce clear, coordinated information quickly and accurately. We also have to be incredibly organised with drawing revisions to ensure clear communication and cost control.
Hudson Architects uses ARCHICAD to help its team work more collaboratively. Seven members of staff were taught to work on one shared ‘teamwork’ project within ARCHICAD, enabling the entire drawing package and all schedules to be produced using one file.
Collaborative working in the office using one shared ‘teamwork’ file has allowed us to produce fully coordinated drawings and schedules in a much shorter space of time than conventional workflows would allow using conventional 2D methods.
Use of the BIMx model has allowed the design team to better understand the design and raise any queries before getting to site. The team collaborates with the structural engineer by sharing 3D IFC files, which allow them to check each other’s model and identify potential clashes.
Communicating effectively with the client is equally as important. Conveying design intent is done via two BIMx files; one for the design team to give the client and consultants an overview of the project as a whole and used in all design team meetings, and one for the contractor, which contains a full set of information which has been signed-off for construction.
Hudson Architects shares information with the contractor using the ‘Construction Issue’ BIMx, which contains the entire package of construction issue drawings and schedules. This way the contractor and its sub-contractors can easily access the latest information using iPads on site. The contractor has benefited hugely from being able to easily access Hudson Architects’s latest design information, whilst also knowing that it is fully coordinated.
The Construction Issue BIMx model allows the contractor to access the latest drawings on site. We can both mark-up drawings using an Apple Pencil and then email directly.
This is the first time that Hudson Architects has used ARCHICAD for a project. The team finds BIMx to be a very useful feature and clients and consultants appreciate it too. Many of their clients expect BIM modelled projects , so it made commercial sense to embrace BIM in order to keep pace with expectations. There are many benefits to model-based design in terms of coordination of information and sharing with consultants.
Particularly important for Hudson Architects is ARCHICAD’s ease of use over Revit. In order to be sure that it was making the right choice for the office, the studio piloted both ARCHICAD and Revit ‘side by side’ and allowed staff to choose which platform they preferred. Ease of use was the primary deciding factor in choosing ARCHICAD. Concerns over compatibility with other packages were also tested and found to not be an issue. Furthermore, when working in teams, only the changes made to a model are exchanged as opposed to the whole model being up and downloaded in Revit. This means that less processing power is required to carry out these tasks, requiring less powerful computers which has kept IT costs down.
Hudson Architects Plan Ahead
Hudson Architects plans for all future projects to be developed in BIM, regardless of scale. The studio is currently working towards ‘BIM Level 2’ deliverables, whereby it produces its information using BIM, and aims to collaborate with consultants using an OPEN BIM approach to deliver both graphical and non-graphical data to its clients.
Over time we see the use of BIM increasing. We plan to use ARCHICAD for all future projects. As our skills improve, we anticipate considerable time savings. Hands-on experience on a live project allows users to practise and become familiar with the software through use over time.
And as Hudson Architects staff increase their use of ARCHICAD and hone their BIM skills, they expect to see a huge rise in productivity. Despite Hudson Architects being in a period of transition and re-training, it has already seen increases in efficiency compared with past projects which were drawn using traditional 2D methods.
With the initial software purchase, the team had a two-day on-site group training from Applecore Designs, which really helped with the transition process. The team then consolidated this knowledge by focusing on one live project at a time and making the effort to do things ‘properly’ and resisting the temptation to revert to 2D methods. This resulted in a core of proficient users, including even the most junior members, becoming proficient in the use of the software who have been able to assist on other projects and thereby sharing the knowledge they have acquired.
Hudson Architects has found that migrating to BIM on a project by project basis is the best way forward, so as not to disrupt existing projects or jeopardise deadlines. Another critical factor in the successful implementation of ARCHICAD is for staff to fully understand the benefits of investing the time and effort required to learn the new software. Hudson Architects advocates then partnering novices with ‘mentors’. The team found this worked well for all staff, despite it representing a big change in working patterns.
Mentoring seems to be the best way to pass knowledge on and minimise the frustration new users experience when learning new software.
Hudson also has a monthly forum where the team discusses how to maintain standards by improving training and establishing best practice. They have developed a template which makes it much more straightforward when setting up a new project. This template is constantly being refined to benefit the next project and so on. This gradual process has allowed the team to become familiar with new features as they come out and to debate how best to use new features within the office to keep presentation standards high and consistent across the studio.
Undertaking a project as large and complex as the Machrie Hotel will certainly have given the Hudson Architects team ample opportunity to fine tune their ARCHICAD skills, and we look forward to seeing the results of their labours in summer 2018 when the hotel is due for completion.
For further advice about migrating your studio to ARCHICAD please contact us on 0121 447 7747