Smart thinking overcomes COVID challenges

Delivering major Design and Construct projects amid COVID restrictions has been the catalyst for some remarkable out of the box innovation at BESIX Watpac.

Smart thinking overcomes COVID challenges

Faced with periods of shutdown and people forced to work from home, the team behind one of the latest vertical schools in Victoria constructed on the historic Fitzroy Gasworks site turned to virtual computer technology to bring their design and delivery teams together.

The new school being delivered for the Victorian School Building Authority (VSBA) is a six-storey state-of-the-art building named, Wurun Senior Campus in recognition of the Traditional Owners.

COVID has been an ever-present challenge, from the design phase right through the construction phase. With so many of the team and architects precluded from working onsite, BESIX Watpac searched for a way in which everyone could have full visibility of the project from their own homes.

The tool they selected was OpenSpace, an automated 360 degree construction project imagery and mapping system that allows the user to virtually tour the project at any stage of its delivery and compare those images to the BIM model. It’s a bit like Google Street View for the construction project but with historic data storage and the artificial intelligence to map real images against the BIM model.

Just as Google uses a 360 degree camera array atop a car to gather its Street View data, OpenSpace relies on a member of the construction team doing the project walk at regular intervals wearing a hardhat equipped with a 360 degree camera.

BESIX Watpac Project Manager Michaja Rutten said the virtual solution has been a game changer.

“The design team was able to constantly compare progress against the BIM model and identify any conflicts between design and constructability and be ahead of those. The contract administrator was able to do his progress claims from home because he could virtually walk through the project, and the client could easily see how the building was progressing.

“I have no doubt that virtual 360 degree systems such as OpenSpace are the future for us,” Michaja said.

BESIX Watpac Site Engineer Sam Doyle said the system has many advantages beyond COVID restrictions.

“As floor slabs get poured and walls sheeted over, the system allows you to go back in time and see exactly where a service or a conduit was positioned in case you need to get to it,” Sam said.

The Wurun Senior Campus project has also been a great example of the collaborative approach BESIX Watpac brings to Design and Construct projects to add greater value for the client.

“We changed the typical concrete structure of the concept design to a composite steel structure with concrete floor slabs. The result of this was better value for money for our client, the Victorian School Building Authority,” Michaja said.

“We are all extremely proud of the of the quality of the school we are delivering and it’s fantastic to see the reactions of teachers and perspective students when they come and tour this school of the 21st century. It’s extremely rewarding”.

I have no doubt that virtual 360 degree systems are the future for us

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