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Award-winning use of BIM at M-SParc

Leighton Cooksey



Leighton leads the delivery of major projects across the sports/leisure, workplace and higher education sectors and sits on our digital design and IT management groups. He has more than 20 years’ experience in project delivery and particular expertise in sustainable buildings, including BREEAM excellent projects. Leighton has been heavily involved in the development of our BIM policies and methodology, including systems to ensure compliance with ISO19650 (the UK government’s specification for level 2 BIM), software template files and object libraries, and internal staff training.

Menai Science Park Anglesey Wales Incubator Labs Offices Open Innovation Space At Night Im

Alongside a beaming client and project team, I took to the stage at the national Constructing Excellence Awards 2018 to celebrate our Digital Construction Award for the realisation of Menai Science Park (M-SParc) in Anglesey. The award recognises the pioneering and collaborative use of digital tools throughout the building design and construction process. Here, I will explain how they were fundamental to the successful outcome of the scheme.

Menai Science Park is North Wales’ first dedicated science park, providing inspiring and creative workspaces for businesses working within the fields of low carbon energy, sustainability and IT. Our design responds to its natural environment, with breath-taking views out to the Snowdonia mountains.

Menai Science Park Anglesey Wales Incubator Labs Offices Open Innovation Space View To Snowdonia Lh

For a long time we have recognised the advantages that building information modeling (BIM) can bring to the efficiency of our own workflow, as well as our clients’ use of their buildings. The operation of a building can account for 90% of the whole lifetime cost of a project, and it is here we can offer significant benefits with its use.

M-SParc and the main shareholder and operator Bangor University, acknowledged at the start of the design process that the project should provide an opportunity to widen their knowledge of BIM, enabling its wider use across their campus. We provided early advice and assistance to demystify the BIM process, and assist the estates team in understanding and defining their needs.

Through a series of workshops we helped the client to produce a robust and comprehensive set of employer’s information requirements (EIR). This was to ensure that the information delivered at handover concisely met their operational needs and that it was compatible with their computer-aided facilities management (CAFM) software. M-SParc was handed over to the client with a UK government BIM Level 2 compliant asset information model (AIM).

Menai Science Park Anglesey Wales Incubator Labs Offices Open Innovation Space Ii Lh

We assisted the contractor with upskilling the local supply chain through BIM presentations to the North Wales Construction Framework and Willmott Dixon’s digital construction supply chain events. We have also shared the lessons learned at M-SParc with the local further education college in Bangor.

Fortnightly clash co-ordination meetings improved collaboration between designers and subcontractors, reducing the number of requests for information on the mechanical and electrical services by 63%. Willmott Dixon’s quantity surveyors also reduced the time taken to measure the steel frame from eight days to three hours through digital take-offs.

We used our digital model to communicate the complex geometry and panel joints of the building’s signature white Corian ‘ribbon’, allowing the fabricator to streamline the manufacturing process. The accuracy of the installation was then verified on site through 3D laser scanning. The model was also used to promote the building during the build. Clients were invited to view augmented reality views of our proposals on site with virtual reality goggles, helping to double the client’s target occupancy at handover. The model was then incorporated into a bespoke building visualisation system. This uses a graphic model to help tenants navigate the building and provides access to user guides and operational information for both the occupants and facilities manager. The software links to the building management system, providing real time and historic diagnostics on energy consumption and environmental conditions.

Menai Science Park Anglesey Wales Incubator Labs Offices Bim Building Visualisation System Lh

As a practice, we believe BIM to be much more about the process than a particular technology or software application. On each project we adopt a flexible and pragmatic approach to its implementation, considering the capabilities of the entire design team and how each stakeholder will benefit from employing a BIM process. In the case of M-SParc, we were fortunate to work with a like-minded client and project team that could also see the value in the collaborative use of digital tools to aid the design and construction process.

Leighton Cooksey