Advanced BIM modeling made it possible

Thanks to thorough planning, advanced BIM-modeling and a fruitful solution-oriented dialogue, the team behind the realization of this project – the client and owner, construction companies, all subcontractors and last but not least the architects from A-Lab along with their trusted BIM advisors from Cad-Q, were able to complete the complex design of the Statoil construction on schedule.The result is a building where they all expressed great satisfaction with the project.

A-Lab, led by architects Geir Haaversenin and Odd Klevin, won a competition in 2009 to design the Statoil regional and international offices. The office building is at the site of the old airport’s former car park. The structure consists of five office lamellas of identical size, stacked on top of each other.

The building design draws on the oil industry’s own construction forms and techniques. The steel superstructure enables the different modules to cantilever up to 30 meters. Escape stairs and services are concentrated in four giant concrete cores, which also stabilize the superstructure. The façade consists of about 1600 prefabricated elements with integrated windows, insulation and solar-shading, a highly energy efficient solution with no visible fixings in the entire facade.


Courageous introduction to the work with building information modeling




Initially, when the A-Lab team started designing and planning the Statoil building, it was still in the early days of BIM management. However, the BIM manager and architect at A-Lab, Angie Arroyo Mendez, saw no other way than to start working with BIM using IFC.

– We did not use IFC then, but it was necessary – I knew we needed to go in that direction.

No doubt, Angie, with her Costa Rican background can be very convincing. The programs were still subject to new developments, but she knew that in the end a construction of this complexity would benefit from BIM modeling. With Cad-Q as their trusted CAD and BIM advisor, she had no fears in throwing herself and the team into this ambitious project.

– Our cooperation with Cad-Q during the years has proven to me that when I need to develop new routines I can always go to Cad-Q and ask Håvard Dagsvik or one of the other consultants for advice.

According to Håvard Dagsvik from Cad-Q, this project was very exciting;

– This was a special task for us back then. Revit IFC export wasn’t yet fully developed and many issues came up. We discussed the issues one by one directly with the development team at Autodesk, and together we found the solutions now implemented in Revit.


Customised solution: Naviate


With the façade consisting of prefabricated elements with integrated windows, insulation and solar-shading in blocks measuring 3 metres in one row and then 3 metres of windows in another row and so on, A-Lab did have some serious challenges in the beginning; when exporting these to IFC, the whole façade became one solid block with no windows!

– We talked to Cad-Q about this and they actually solved it by programming a new feature as an add-on to Revit, called Naviate. As a professional, you need to understand that there are limits to what programs like Revit can do for you. Many people blame the programs but in my world, we need to think differently if we want to be professionals. For instance, it is still common to use pdfs for transfer of data and drawings but in a BIM project DWF files are the right formats to use for exchanging files. PDF is like using a floppy disk instead of a USB stick!, Angie exclaims.

At one point in the process, we had 4000 errors occurring in Revit with warnings and I got on the hotline to Håvard. Not long after Håvard presented a method to work around these errors.

– This was impressive, Angie smiles, – the solution was precise, clear and they managed to communicate it so well to our team, almost like a recipe, easy to work with!


New thinking requires
new methods and skills


As well as using the right files, Angie wants to work right from the start and she is not afraid of new challenges. With the Statoil project, they had a very productive relationship with the entire team behind the project. We were all able to work in the same 3D model and we needed to know exactly how to do this right.

– If you want to keep your competitive edge, you need to team up with people with the right technical knowledge. I do not mind taking risks as long as I know that the people behind me can back me up. With Håvard and the guys from Cad-Q, I knew we were in good hands.


IFC is important in all Scandinavian
companies – IFC export with Naviate


As our requirements to automatic working routines have increased during the years, we know that we need extra tools in order to keep that competitive edge. Investing in Naviate Architecture has enabled us to do things in Revit that were not possible before.

If you want to keep your competitive
edge, you need to team up with people
with the right technical knowledge.

– When delivering IFC projects, the requirements to IFC are hard. You need to be ready to upload your solution to a server belonging to the government in order to participate in the competition. Håvard helped us with putting the requirements into the Revit language, so it became workable, Angie explains, the manual process before was slow and full of risks. With Naviate we also got the coordinates for the grid intersections automatically for use by surveyors on site.

– The close cooperation that Cad-Q has with the supplier, Autodesk, ensures that the changes we need in the programs according to the real life requirements we as architects have, are actually being implemented in the future releases, Angie says.

In the special cases, for instance that of the Scandinavian IFC requirements, Cad-Q customizes the solution by developing a method that adapts to the Autodesk program and makes it a common routine in the program working automatically and as a standard. After working with A-Labs and the requirements during the Statoil project, the Norwegian standards are now in Naviate Architecture. According to Angie, this new plug in helped them save a lot of time. As she says;

– We have reliable tools. When you trust in your tools as we do, you can trust in your model.


Skilled people and a satisfactory cooperation


Working with advisors such as Cad-Q make a great difference, if you ask Angie. She says:

– It is important to make sure you grow from every experience, we certainly do. We know we are posing challenging questions that will help develop the future processes. With our cooperation with Cad-Q and their skilled people, I learn something new all the time. Working with the teams in various building projects, I do get many enquiries as a BIM manager. However, there is a limit to how much I can use my support from Cad-Q with the other project consultants and architects. Some of which might not always be willing to work on the technical side of designing’, she adds.


Visualizing with Solibri – Skanska saved 10% on the construction costs on site


One of the reasons the cooperation between all the contractors, engineers and architects in the Statoil project ran so smoothly, was the fact that we had the right tools for planning before constructing. With Solibri our visualising program from Cad-Q, we were able to run crash tests on the construction and prevent any real life collisions from happening. We simply detected any flaws in the construction by virtually putting together the elements from each supplier during our meetings preparing the construction.


This was also one of the main reasons that the construction phase on site was only 20 months, which is very short considering the size and complexity of the building. It really helps you understand the processes, and a fact is that Skanska saved 10% of the costs on site by fixing the problems virtually. A considerable amount of money when you look at the size of the project.

– This is why it is essential that we as architects are willing to learn more and be more technical. With Solibri, you see the IFC data from any program and your job does get much more interesting that way, Angie points out. – With the Statoil construction, we really learned a lot. Designed with a curving glass roof, this part of the construction was very challenging.


The future is new technology and ambitious coworkers and clients


However, after a 1-day course at Cad-Q learning to work with Solibri, Angie had a new method for this kind of challenge and the impressive construction became reality.

According to Angie, she is pleased with her job and the exciting tasks she has working with good clients.

– One needs to respect and understand all the interests of the people involved. You need good projects and good clients to work out good solutions. As she says; – every experience – even the painful ones are worth it, as long as it makes you grow!


Having a support team on a Scandinavian level makes a difference


Angie says; -Looking back at the Statoil project, this was a solid training for the team where we learned a lot just by trusting our own abilities and the support from our consultants at Cad-Q.

– I knew that the Cad-Q team would be there for me all the way and that Håvard would be the expert to ask if anything should go wrong. Having a support team on the Scandinavian level makes a great difference, as they are so close to us. Yet they are also close to the inventors of the program, that of which we are depending on in our core business; Autodesk Revit.


We are on an exciting journey


We actually find it exciting working together and finding solutions for new projects – it is really a great relationship. We are on an exciting journey – we are all passionate about it and we can sit together for days and discuss solutions. The plan for the future is to have all our consultants working in Revit and work even more in the cloud, the ambitious BIM Manager at A-Lab concludes.