Associated CAD Solutions Ltd
Steel and concrete blending perfectly with the environment
The Giants Causeway lies in Northern Ireland's Causeway Coast World Heritage Site, in a location where the landscape features cliffs formed by hexagonal basalt stones, agricultural land and cliffside walks. The causeway itself features over 38,000 hexagonal columns of basalt and is visited annually by over 600.000 people from across the world.
The Giants Causeway Visitors Centre is an award winning design set in a world heritage site. The building design utilises the large difference in level across the site, where two folds are created in the landscape. One of these, extending the line of a ridge, will accommodate the building. The second, extending the level of a road, will screen the building's new car park from view. The new 1815 sq.m state of the art building is structured around a reinforced concrete and structural steel frame, with elevations in locally sourced basalt clad mullions incorporating a glazed frontage.
Software interoperability, a key element in developing BIM
Associated CAD Solutions Ltd. was tasked with the responsibility of providing 3D Building Information Modelling (BIM) services for the Giants Causeway Visitors Centre project. The services of ACS were engaged directly by the main contractor Gilbert Ash, specifically to create a 3D BIM model from the Architects and Engineers 2D drawings during the pre-construction design phase which would facilitate early procurement and off-site manufacture. ACS used Tekla BIM software and Autodesk's Revit Architecture to create the 3D BIM model.
Clashes between the steel and concrete were identified and resolved during the modelling phase
The building shape itself was extremely complex incorporating non-orthogonal design lines and shapes. The geometry of the cast-in-situ RC roof structure contained varying slopes, angles and fold lines onto which is placed the grass roof finish, restoring the natural ridgeline of the surrounding landscape. The underside of the RC roof structure is a polished concrete surface, which provides the internal finish to the ceiling, incorporating intricate shuttering panel joint lines, which had to be modelled into the slopes and fold lines of the roof structure. The internal structural steel plate columns also create an architectural feature within the building and are bolted to the foundation pads and cast into specific locations in the RC roof. These structural plate columns are 5.6 metres tall and consist of 7 individual 30mm thick plates bolted and welded to each other with its ends tapered to the geometry of the floor and roof. The dimensional interface between the structural steel and reinforced concrete was critical, and a number of clashes between the steel and concrete were identified and resolved during the modelling phase resulting in time and cost savings and also ensured that the architectural vision for the building wasn't compromised.
850 individual shuttering panels were modelled in Tekla, following the complex slopes and fold lines of the RC roof structure. These shuttering panel drawings were then provided to the formwork contractor ensuring that the intricate grid pattern of the RC roof joint lines was constructed as per the architectural design. During construction BIM is providing information to the construction team such as building sections, levels and 3D images. A key element in developing BIM and ensuring its accuracy was the interoperability of both software platforms through the use of IFC and DWG file formats.