‘Technology continues to change the way we design, construct and maintain buildings’

Jason Hall

In my role as an Architectural Assistant working on Atlantic Square – a high-end, mixed-use development in Glasgow, Scotland, from my office in St Albans, near London – I have seen how technology enables us to work more collaboratively, more efficiently and more accurately.

A seamless process

Working from confederated digital models, our design and construction teams can collaborate with our client, consultants and specialist sub-contractors from anywhere. At Atlantic Square, BIM Level 2 and PAS1192-2 are helping us to standardise the information we capture and present it in a uniform way that is easy to reference during all phases of a building’s lifecycle.

Once the building is in use, the facilities management (FM) provider can consult the model to locate an issue, identify any access equipment required to fix it and order parts before an engineer even needs to attend the site – helping to achieve a first-time fix.

Equally, we’re noting the benefits of 3D printing. During the design phase, we printed a tactile model to present to the client that allowed everyone to understand how it all fits together in real life. This model can be changed and updated as the building evolves. 3D printing also enables us to create bespoke components that aren’t possible using traditional techniques. Materials such as biodegradable PLA filament can make these components more sustainable than standard plastic ones.

If components are printed, we can provide the FM team with digital files of all of the building’s assets. Instead of having to store large quantities of parts, engineers can print them when they need them, saving storage space. This eliminates the risk of components not being available in the future if manufacturing stops or if supply is interrupted.

Virtual Reality plays a role in reducing defects by allowing the project team to walk around a building in its digital state to identify any issues and pick them up more quickly. I can walk around the building from my office, which is 400 miles away from the site.

Endless possibilities

What I enjoy about my role most is the problem-solving element of being confronted with an issue and finding ways to overcome it. As technology continues to develop, I find more ways to apply it to solve issues more quickly. For me, the possibilities of technology in construction are endless…