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Case Study: Lynwood House, Durham

Healthy start for a start-up practice

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  • Client: Derwentside Homes
  • Lead Contractor: Galliford Try
  • BIM Tools: Autodesk Revit

One of the first projects won by Edwards Architecture after it was formed in 2011 by a group of architects and technologists drawn from north-east practices, Lynwood House is a 34-apartment sheltered housing development with doctor’s surgery in Lanchester, near Durham.

The project has been instrumental in the practice's adoption of BIM, which was recently recognised by being shortlisted for a BIM4SME award in the Best BIM Project, small or micro enterprise category.

The practice’s knowledge and application of BIM has grown with the project, says Andrew Bowkett MCIAT, a senior architectural technologist at the firm.

“This project commenced in 2011 and from then until now the learning curve for BIM for both us and the industry has gone through the roof - it's a curve we've worked hard to be ahead of. Given that the documents supporting Level 2 BIM have only been published over the last few years, the level of BIM used at Lynwood House is hard to define, with elements added both retrospectively and in time for the next stage going forward,” he says.

Edwards Architecture was set up as a 3D design practice, with Revit being the first piece of software purchased. Although BIM was not requested by the client, Derwentside Homes, the architects convinced them of the potential benefits.

The ability to have design input on a tablet was invaluable

The architects shared the model with other consultants during Stage C of the RIBA 2007 Plan of Work, with the client requesting that all the consultants and engineers use the process. Edwards Architecture then acted as the lead designer and took on the role of BIM coordinator.

“All the consultants used Revit models, which allowed us to collaborate,” says Bowkett. “We saw a huge benefit at design team meetings where we avoided the ‘I’ll check when I get back to the office’ element as we had combined federated models on the screen. Clashes, design changes and new elements could be tested there and then – the results being immediate.

“The use of the model as a visualisation tool was particularly useful during the early design team meetings, client sign-off process and the pre-construction meeting with the main contractor. The ability to have the model and design output on an iPad on site or in meetings proved invaluable,” he continues.

However, BIM was not used by the main contractor on the project, Galliford Try. The architect conducted walk-throughs of the model with the contractor, but then issued 2D drawings were eventually issued: “We sent out the model with the tender, but the contractors we went to at the time didn’t have the capability,” recalls Bowkett.

Following the construction phase of the project, Derwentside Homes expressed the desire to use BIM to streamline their in-house facilities management operations. “We created a FM model for them retrospectively,” explains Bowkett. “We stripped out a lot of the design information and added information Derwentside required. They are now trialling this model with their current asset management tool.”

Lynwood House was key in Edwards Architecture gaining Level 2 compliance accreditation from Ocean

Beyond the design benefits, the project has also helped the practice and the client learn the benefits of BIM. “It has been a huge learning tool, but also as a practice we have seen benefits internally in terms of efficiency. Each project we do now is more efficient than the last as we have developed our Revit and BIM templates with a focus on automating the process. This means that we can produce concept and detailed models very quickly, which gives us a great commercial advantage.”

Working using BIM at Lynwood House was a key component in the development of BIM competency at the practice, which led to Edwards Architecture gaining Level 2 compliance accreditation last week from Ocean: “This project put us on a good footing to becoming accredited,” explains Bowkett.

The winners of the BIM4SME awards, run in collaboration with RICS, will be announced tomorrow night, with Edwards Architecture's Lynwood House up against projects from Terence Kiney Associates, Howard Russell Construction, Links Project Management and Longland Developments.

The use of the model as a visualisation tool was particularly useful during the early design team meetings, client sign-off process and the pre-construction meeting with the main contractor. The ability to have the model and design output on an iPad on site or in meetings proved invaluable.– Andrew Bowkett MCIAT, Edwards Architecture