No Blue Planet without Building Information Modeling

The new home to Denmark's Aquarium, The Blue Planet, will be the biggest and most advanced aquarium in Northern Europe. Currently it is under construction and when finished it will be one of the most remarkable buildings in Denmark. The construction design for this architectural gem was made with Tekla Structures.

A landmark of Copenhagen: An architectural gem with unique details and shapes will challenge everyone who sees the building near Kastrup Harbor on the island of Amager.

The Blue Planet is one of the most demanding construction projects in Denmark. Behind the building is the architect company 3XN. Inspiration for the architecture is a whirlpool, which is reminiscent of the oceans with fish, birds, and ocean currents.

Demanding project engineering

Moe & Brødsgaard planned the project engineering of The Blue Planet. They chose Tekla BIM software for tackling the challenges of the complicated facade geometry with a steel construction that creates a double curved surface. Because of the double curved surface, all elements of the steel structure and model are unique and no elements can be re-used elsewhere.

"We needed a software that first and foremost could manage a complicated project, but also a software that would help to clarify the geometry during the project engineering planning phase. Tekla turned out to be a natural choice for this work because we quickly and convincingly could sketch the constructions in accordance with the geometry," says Structural Engineer Mikkel Wyrtz at Moe & Brødsgaard.

A whirlpool of challenge

Challenging architecture requires a lot from the contractors of Blue Planet. The entire whirlpool is made of steel and as there are irregular shapes in the architecture the structure must be completely precise. Inaccuracies in the steel trusses and rafters can delay the project.

J. Langkjær Stålbyg A/S, a sub-contractor for Kai Andersen A/S, knows all about this. The company supplies a total of 700 tons of bearing steel during the construction. They have extensive experience in building information modeling (BIM) and they have used Tekla Structures for many years to produce highly detailed, information-rich 3D models. This does not just make manufacturing of the steel components precise, but it also saves time as making adjustments at the construction site can be avoided.

"The challenge has been to make a proper basis for production. This means drawings with all relevant information and a plan for managing the materials that are to be sawed and cut. There are approximately 9,700 drawings," says Carsten Munkgaard Pedersen from J. Langkjær Stålbyg A/S. He explains:

"The goal has been to gather the parts during the fitting phase and have no unpleasant surprises, and we have succeeded to everyone's satisfaction."

Improved cooperation

As J. Langkjær Stålbyg A/S has experience in using Tekla BIM software, they have been able to carry out very demanding projects which previously would have been impossible or very difficult because of the complex architecture.

"A project like this could not be done without Tekla. The geometry is particularly complex, especially in connection with the C profiles and purlins which create the curved surface would have practically been impossible without tools like Tekla," says Carsten Munkgaard Pedersen.

He believes that Tekla BIM software provides new opportunities for turning the architects' ideas into unique buildings. Previously these would have been so time-consuming and difficult to build that their construction would not have been financially responsible.

"Not only our own fitters but also people at Kai Andersen A/S have benefitted from the 3D sketches and screenshots which can be made from the model. They know that reality and the model have to match. And the model has been accessible at the site as well," says Carsten Munkgaard Pedersen and adds:

"Using Tekla has without doubt contributed to minimizing and eliminating errors, and it has made the level of precision much higher and the work process much quicker."

3D modeling has also changed Moe & Brødsgaard’s way of working with both internal and external partners.

"With 3D modeling, all parties are involved in creating the design of the project in a completely new way. This leads to a deeper understanding of the project, which improves the quality. We use more time on the geometry and during the project engineering planning phase we solve a number of problems which we previously would have, so to speak, solved at the construction site," says Mikkel Wyrtz.

Wyrtz has also used Tekla's free construction collaboration and viewer software, Tekla BIMsight.

"Tekla BIMsight has proven to be a strong, simple tool. With greater clarity, it is possible to combine a number of different models simultaneously. The possibility to turn the individual parts on and off makes the usability even greater," Wyrtz says.

The Blue Planet will be Northern Europe's largest and most modern aquarium when opened.