REVITalisation for Design, Construction and Operations of Pre-World War II Buildings

Hong Kong

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We are delighted that AECOM’s Asia Pacific digital team has been selected as a finalist in the Autodesk 2019 AEC Excellence Awards in the ‘Building Design’ category for their work on the ‘REVITalisation for Design, Construction and Operations of Pre-World War II Buildings’ project. Winners will be announced at the Autodesk University Conference in Las Vegas in November. Read more from our project team about this project below.

Project overview

This revitalisation project in the Mongkok district of Hong Kong involved the redevelopment of a number of large, grade 2, pre-World War II, veranda-style shop houses used for both residential and commercial purposes.

Project challenges

During the project’s design and construction, we were challenged by the need to strike the right balance between redevelopment and preserving the historical architecture. Mongkok is a very busy district, so disruptions to traffic flow and local businesses had to be kept to a minimum during construction.

During the implementation of building operations and maintenance, it is common practice for surveyors and engineers to conduct preliminary building condition surveys, using 2D drawings, for quantity surveying and cost estimation. With a wide variety of contractors submitting tenders for this project, it would have been a very lengthy and difficult process to review the drawings, visualise the outcomes, and reach a consensus among stakeholders without the use of digital technology.

Technology application

We used Building Information Modelling (BIM) software that allowed all stakeholders to clearly visualise the new building design and its relationship with historic elements. Using BIM shortened the design approval from several months to only one.

In the pre-construction stage, we created a ‘digital twin’, which is a digital replica of the existing built environment. This allowed the contractor to understand the construction detail and provided accurate works estimations. These actions avoided clashes and enabled us to preserve important maintenance space.

BIM for saving money and paper

We worked to ensure a paperless design and consultation approach, thus creating a green design concept. Without the adoption of BIM, around 5,000 copies of drawings, graphs, charts and presentations would have been generated for each design update or change, which would have cost about HK$100,000 (or US$12,500) each time to print. The project had 10 significant and approximately 50 minor design changes. By adopting technology workflows, we were able to save approximately US$250,000 in printing on this project.

BIM for facilities management

The BIM facilities management (BIM-FM) platform provides one central solution for operations and maintenance, which can be easily replicated and integrated into upcoming projects for the same client. Future projects will be added into the dashboard and managed in the same environment. Users can directly link related models in common technological applications like Autodesk Forge with real-time information captured in the Building Management System (BMS).

Solar and energy analysis, and predictive maintenance service tools were used on this project. Within the BIM, the entire district can be seen virtually, enabling solar analysis tools to evaluate the position of entrances and street facilities. The solar light on any elevation or interior wall, at any time of day, can be displayed quickly and easily for a detailed review of shadow, light, shading screen, and wall finish, which offered significant benefits in visualising the design.

For predictive maintenance, Internet of Things (IoT) sensors were installed and connected to monitor and manage all building facilities, such as CCTV, pumps and lighting. Real-time signals on dashboards allow issues to be identified and analysed quickly, so that works can be carried out before any failure.

If an incident is reported onsite, officers can view the relevant CCTV footage on the digital platform prior to visiting the site. This can save several hours for each incident and allows incidents to be handled effectively.

The BMS can schedule and manage changes to lighting, with lights programmed to go on and off at precise times, saving electricity and operational costs. If changes need to be made or an incident is reported, a group of lights can be switched on or off remotely, saving time and effort for the maintenance team.

Other benefits of digital models

During the design and construction stage, it is typically challenging to coordinate different mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) disciplines using 2D drawings, which was a very important aspect of this project due to the limited headroom in the pre-war shophouse. We used the BIM workflow and digital technology for inter-disciplinary reviews and MEP coordination. The workflow improved collaboration and coordination inside the 3D-visual environment and allowed engineers to identify any potential clashes for immediate design coordination.

During the operations and maintenance stage, the site officer traditionally undertakes site inspections with printed 2D drawings and maintenance manuals to verify the equipment onsite, especially those features hidden above the ceiling or embedded into the wall. With the BIM-FM platform, the site officer can retrieve the maintenance and equipment information effectively from within the system (and using mobile devices) and assess, often without being onsite, what the problem is and how it can be solved.

Urban Renewal Authority (URA) leading the way

The URA is a pioneer for using BIM, BMS and IoT integration. It has since mandated the implementation of ‘smart buildings’ to improve its residential projects and maintenance program. In the future, all URA projects will be integrated with the current BIM-FM platform.

URA’s BIM-FM centralised platform is at the forefront of BIM in terms of the integration techniques used. Rather than providing a data-exchanging mechanism between BIM and FM systems, it provides a real-time asset information management system by manoeuvring freely through the BIM, FM and BMS information using one single integrated platform for all projects.