BIM proves essential for the completion of Victoria Gate Shopping Centre

May 22

BIM proves essential for the completion of Victoria Gate Shopping Centre

The Victoria Gate Shopping Centre in Leeds opened in October 2016 and has quickly become one of the most iconic retail destinations in the North of England.

Not only does it house the largest John Lewis store in the UK outside of London, but this £165 million scheme, spread over 102,193m2, boasts a plethora of luxury high street stores, to the envy of many of its retail rivals in the North.

The developer, Hammerson, appointed Sir Robert McAlpine as the main contractor in February 2014 who subsequently appointed BIM. Technologies as BIM Coordinator for the delivery of the complex design of the scheme’s façade – which was the vision of Acme Architects.

Having worked with Sir Robert McAlpine on other BIM-led construction projects, we were a natural choice to enable the contractor to realise their targets in real-time, and achieve delivery efficiencies in cost and time savings.


BIM co-ordination requirements

On this project, we coordinated all the steel-work, MEP and civils, the management of standards such as the BEP and model requirements (audits), and 3D modelling and computational scripting.

The external design consisted of three separate facades, to represent three distinct areas; a flagship John Lewis store, shopping arcade and multi-storey car park.

We worked directly with Acme on their design, bringing to life this stunning scheme from a 2D design to a 3D digital model.

The centerpiece of the scheme was the diagrid façade of the John Lewis store, constructed from diagonal struts of etched concrete which wrap around the exterior of the store.

The design was unusual and unique, which meant it was extremely complex. Not only did the project require all three facades to be compatible, but the addition of the glass roof which topped this intricate scheme, also needed to be factored in.

We knew from the beginning of this project that the only course of action to complete the combined facades to the high-specification required was through the use of BIM – internal and external communication and co-ordination were key and only BIM could deliver that to the client. Therefore, the whole of the exterior was developed virtually in a BIM environment to ascertain the accuracy of the structural design.


Warboard clash detection management platform

With over 54 separate models, across the three buildings from 14 different companies, we imported all of these into our ”Warboard” collaboration software to identify clashes.

Warboard allowed the team to bring together all project models from across the supply chain to create one federated model, allowing any clashes to be detected and easily rectified.

Not only has this proven effective in coordinating daily work, but it is a fabulous tool for communication with our client as it provides one easy to access platform, with live project details and progress for everyone to access. Coordination has been a key component to this project’s overall success.

The management of data and models within Warboard has proven to be an extremely effective way to keep up with design changes and clash detections, as well as the coordination of as-built information – leading to fewer errors and a more efficient workflow.

The project required us to interrogate data in different ways, such as quantities and surface areas; 2D drawings were not enough to realise the vision of the Acme design on the exterior of what has become a most imposing building.  The use of BIM on this project has allowed the client and contractors to extract the appropriate data that they require and interpret this in real-time.

Nicholas Fay, Senior Project Manager for Hammerson said: “BIM. Technologies’ expertise in using BIM processes and software meant they could coordinate information making it easily viewable and accurate.

“The digital construction methods used even allowed us to use the project model for communications with potential retailers to explore footfall and retail space”.

This was indeed a complex project and the digital construction methods used were vital in maintaining control and improved collaboration, without the aid of 3D design tools, the project may well have incurred additional significant costs and ran over time.

Victoria Gate won best shopping centre at MIPIM Awards 2017 and is now one the most envied shopping centres on a global scale, presenting a design style that blends the traditional with the contemporary by using progressive building materials and techniques.