BIM's silo mentality
How building information modelling (BIM) was used in the conversion of two concrete silos into modern offices
Report from – Damien Carr
Copenhagen is one of Europe’s great maritime hubs and home to Maersk, the world’s biggest container shipping company. Even so, the Danish capital’s historic port area known as the Inner North Harbour (Indre Nordhavn) is being transformed into a new waterfront district known as DK-2150 Nordhavn, the digits representing a brand new postal code.
The 300 hectare high-density development will comprise 40% residential properties and 40% commercial properties, the rest made up of mixed-use buildings, enough space for 40,000 residents and the same number of jobs. Low energy use is at the heart of the development, which will focus on energy efficient buildings, district heating and the use of renewable energy sources.
The focal point of DK-2150 Nordhavn, is Portland Towers an ‘NCC Company House’ development, which was officially opened on 8 August, 2014. The project involved the renovation of two concrete silos built in 1979 to store cement and located directly on the quayside. At 54 meters, the cylindrical silos were the tallest buildings in the northern port of Copenhagen.
However, a bold design by local architect Design Group Architects has seen a complete conversion of these industrial buildings into 6,449 m² of office space over seven stories.
The concrete core houses the ground-floor reception area, lift shaft and dressing rooms, around which a glass-fronted structure, hanging 24 meters over the quay, has been mounted to contain open plan office spaces between 550 to 6,500 m², quiet areas. A restaurant and conference rooms and a roof terrace, with a 360° view from Portland Towers, over the capital and the Øresund sound, occupying the roof.
Meeting technical challenges with BIM
Combining the concrete silos with a new construction consisting of modern office facilities, clearly presented a variety of technical construction challenges. The developers NCC, Rambøll, which was responsible for all of the engineering planning of the constructions, used Tekla Structures BIM software to help make the construction and planning go as smoothly as possible.
“The geometry of the existing silos did not entirely match the old drawings of the silos as one of the silos is actually a bit crooked, even though the office facade should, of course, be built straight,” said Henrik Kortermann, Senior Consultant at Rambøll.
The company used Tekla Structures to gain a 3D overview at the intersection between the crooked girders, with precise modelling of the crooked silo needed to get exact coordinates for cutting holes in the existing concrete walls so that the door openings would match the architect's drawings.
Avoiding delays on site
Rambøll used Tekla Structures throughout the process in order to give the concrete and steel contractors precise measurements for manufacturing the elements. Using BIM, the precast concrete panel factory was also able to produce precise concrete panels for all of the floors.
The crookedness of the silo meant that panels needed to be produced in different lengths and with slanted cut-offs; with 3D modelling, the precast factory had precise measurements to help them avoid having to produce new panels or make time-consuming adjustments on site.
“The same applied to the production of the steel beams by the steel contractor, as these also had to be produced in different lengths and with slanted cut-offs,” said Kortermann. BIM, he explained has made it possible to carry out clash checking between structures, installations and the architecture in 3D. “It was easy for the developer, collaboration partners and authorities to visualise,” he said.
- Developer: NCC
- Engineering planning and consulting engineer: Rambøll
- Architects: Design Group Architects
- BIM software: Tekla Structures
Tekla Structures will be sponsoring workshops on the second day of BIM Prospects, a conference dedicated to open BIM taking place on 22-23 April.