Virtual reality, 3D technology and innovative build methods were integral to the success of a school project for Baxall. Maria Barnes, graduate design coordinator, reports on the lessons she learned.
Baxall recently handed over the £2.9m design and build two-storey extension project at Cradle Hill Primary School in Seaford. The project was secured under the Sussex Cluster Contractors’ Framework on behalf of East Sussex County Council.
Baxall was appointed early which presented the opportunity for the team to explore and engage our BIM capabilities from bidding/estimating to handover and beyond (soft landings/aftercare).
The original feasibility study was altered to better suit the site and school requirements. Baxall and ESCC opted to build the superstructure using a modern method of construction (MMC) solution by way of a STREIF UK closed panel timber frame system.
Having delivered numerous challenging school buildings using the STREIF system, Cradle Hill was no exception for Baxall. The low ceiling heights in the school and requirement for new floors to match meant only a 110mm deep ceiling void with little room for mechanical and electrical services. The BIM model and clash detection software were key to realising this issue early and subsequently ensuring the accurate design and installation of these services.
The offsite system resulted in numerous time and cost savings as certain elements could be pre-installed in the factory rather than on site, such as electrical wiring for sockets, light switches, access control points and underfloor heating manifold cabinets.
The project was a perfect opportunity to apply virtual reality: 3D goggles enabled school staff to visualise their new building before it was actually constructed.
The structure was built using the STREIF timber frame system
Architect Miller Bourne produced 3D instructional videos showing the layering of flashings and cladding at the complex junctions between the new and existing buildings. This was a valuable tool in identifying and rectifying conflicts.
BIM was instrumental in achieving far more efficient delivery with some works areas handed over six weeks early. In parallel, an MMC approach compressed the build process down from an estimated 45 weeks (traditional) to 30 weeks on site.
Combining BIM with MMC resulted in a far shorter construction period with reduced error on site and a high-quality build at all stages. Baxall site manager Matthew Fothergill MCIOB confirmed there had been very few problems in delivery, a statement reinforced by architect Mark Tucker who commented that “things went way too smoothly!”
Working on the project has been educational. I was working on design information, coordination with STREIF (MMC) and the production of the log book and O&M manuals.
The level of communication between all stakeholders and designers has been the key to the project’s success. Experiencing the benefits of BIM first hand has made me realise that as an industry, we need to embrace the opportunities that modern technology is currently offering.
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