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10 Oct 2011

WAN talks to Zaha Hadid Architects on how Revit can aid flexibility and communication

In this third Autodesk study we look towards a practice rather than a specific project for a case study, taking global architecture firm Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) as a model for the flexibility of Revit. In the podcast below Michael Hammond speaks to Simon Johns and Shaun Farrell from ZHA’s London office and Phil Bernstein from Autodesk in Connecticut about the firm’s approach to Revit and how the team has integrated the software into its vast portfolio of work.

One project which demonstrates ZHA’s software usage is the Port House scheme in Antwerp which the studio won in January 2009 and is currently working on in collaboration with local architects Bureau Bouwtechniek. While the initial design stages were completed by ZHA using alternative software models, Bureau Bowtechniek has used Revit as its primary software model.

Bernstein explains that this is an ever-growing trend in the industry: “We [Autodesk] find that our customers use a wide array of tools depending on what they’re doing and they calibrate their tool usage to the particular work processes and objectives of their design practice. We have a lot of clients who use Revit exclusively as a tool that supports their design process from the very beginning to the very end but just as building designs are very variable so people’s workloads are highly variable.”

While certain architects work more effectively using different software applications, the problem of communicating these ideas across the gap created can form something of a challenge. Johns reveals that ZHA selects its architects on the quality of their creative ideas and allows these individuals to compose their designs using the software which best matches their skill set, admitting that he ‘would like to see Revit used more’ at ZHA.

Communication is always an issue on major building schemes, with multiple sets of architects, engineers, contractors and clients all trying to convey their ideas across an ever-widening division between software models. Bernstein furthers: “The intersection between the use of digital tools to describe design intent...and the use of that same information to drive construction jumping over that gap, both contractually from a risk management perspective and also in terms of what kind of information needs to go from one side to the other is a really interesting problem.

“We’re seeing a lot of design/construction collaborations where the contractor needs to be involved quite early in the process so he gets the model in the form that he can use it for construction, because a lot of the time what the architect will do in order to represent the design in terms of its intent doesn’t have the proper fidelity for the contractor to use to actually execute the work.” He concludes that Autodesk is currently assessing this challenge to see how they can ‘serve both sides of the equation’.

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