Innovative Automation of Building Design Simulations in Architecture
The web application developed for Hawkins Brown managed to completely replace the traditional processes of design simulations, which previously relied on multiple software programs and consumed an inordinate amount of the designers' time.
Our briefing tool helped the client streamline their processes through automation and data accessibility, serving as a hub of information for its users. The solution saved significant amounts of time and considerably lowered the risk of human error.
ABOUT THE CLIENT
Hawkins Brown is a top award-winning architecture practice in the UK with over 250 architects, urban designers, and researchers.
Since its establishment in 1988, it has designed and delivered innovative and socially sustainable buildings across multiple sectors.https://www.hawkinsbrown.com/
People are at the heart of everything they do, thus they maintain a focus on bringing in fresh and collaborative approaches to their designs and processes.
Hawkins Brown was looking into building a tool that would let them visually represent area briefing data to their clients in an engaging and appealing way.
Most of the briefs were made in spreadsheets before which were difficult to comprehend and maintain, so Hawkins Brown knew there’s room to innovate. They needed a web application that would completely replace the way designers work and collaborate on the project.
Last but not least, the aesthetics of both the interface and the visual output had to match the standards of a prestigious architecture firm.
We built a web-based application to enhance the process of designing and calibrating the ratio of people to space size, following and complying to the rigourous UK regulations. It had to be seamlessly synchronized and integrated with industry tools like AutoCAD and Revit
The first thing we did was to work together with Hawkins Brown researchers to make sure we completely understand the field, the company business model, the processes that existed thus far, the requirements and use cases. This helped us propose an adequate, efficient solution.
HB provided mock-ups and briefs of how the envisioned tool should look like and work.
During this stage we established an effective communication and tight feedback loop, which only grew stronger throughout the development stage that followed.
Once the business analysis and solution proposal stages ended, we proceeded to build a web application.
The back-end of the web application was built using ASP.NET Web API and the .NET framework stack. The front-end was basically a stand alone Angular project.
The single-page-application (SPA) architecture allowed higher decoupling and route management. It also ensured a high level of component reusability and component interactions.
The Web Application
First of all, the app is integrated with the company’s internal login permissions through Active Directory, which makes it work well with their current IT infrastructure.
The software automates the process of configuring and conceptualizing the ratio between the space size and number of people, while being fully synchronized and integrated with Revit .
The user can visualize projects data into modern charts and modify information that was usually restricted to spreadsheets, create strong, comprehensive and customized briefs for clients, or compare them with previous projects.
Over time, the app was set to use historic data of past design projects the architects did, thus improving constantly and allowing to quickly customize new projects, implement changes and present them to their customers.
We made the used interface adapted to Google’s material design, which made the app look very familiar and intuitive to use.
The Revit Add-in
We developed a custom Revit Addin which connects to the web portal and database, gathers the project brief and synchronizes it with Revit schedules.
This offers designers the target area for each space type they are modelling within the buildings. Once the model is finalized, the addin is pushing the final areas and space factors back to the web application, thus giving designers a head to head comparison between the simulations and the final model. Also, this allows the tool to ‘learn’ from previous projects and propose updated space factors for each new project.
All in all, here’s a quick recap of the app’s main functionalities:
Automates the configuration of the the ratio of people to space size
Pulls data from Revit and AutoCAD, thanks to a custom-made plug-in
Offers significant insights based on historic data introduced manually or based on previous briefs generated using the app
Generates appealing and easy-to-understand briefs for clients
Innovative service - the tool demonstrates to their clients that Hawkins Brawn is looking to develop new and innovative ways to deliver their services
Competitive advantage - due to improved communication and considerable quicker response rate, our client consolidates their position in the market
Improved efficiency - The automation of the briefing creation process made the entire workflow more efficient
Single point of access - All the necessary elements were gathered in a single, all-incorporating tool, thus replacing Excel or any additional software
Minimized human errors - By not relying on spreadsheets and manual data input anymore, and pushing the briefing tool data into and from AutoCad and Revit automatically
Computational Design Specialist
Since 2017 we have built a great relationship with Fabrit Global and continued to work with them. We have recently appointed them to undertake a forth project with us.
From spending time at their office with the full team, it was evident that it's a team of talented individuals.
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