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BIM helps to transform Finland’s city of Tampere

The Best Sport and Recreation Structural BIM Project 2023

The downtown area of Tampere – the largest inland city in the Nordic region – has been transformed through the construction of an extensive residential, commercial and entertainment complex: The Tampere Deck and Arena. 

BIM tools were essential in overcoming several major engineering challenges.

As its name suggests, the development rests on a new 20,000 m2 elevated deck constructed above the railway lines that connect Tampere to the rest of Finland. This feat of engineering is an exemplary way of reusing space to create a new city neighborhood, but it wasn’t easy to construct.

In a typical deck construction, support pillars of the required dimensions are placed where needed to bear the load from above. But with the Tampere project taking place between the railway lines – while the trains were still running – the pillars could not always be placed in the ideal locations. This was further complicated by the buildings above the deck varying in size and dimension, so the load is not constant throughout.

“The biggest challenge was related to the placement and construction of the 200 or so pillars supporting the deck,” says Jenni Ala-Mantila, a Business Development Manager at SRV Rakennus, the project’s main contractor. “The shape of the arena was unusual, so the massive loads on the pillars needed to be simulated multiple times."

"We could never have done this work with just pen and paper. It would have been impossible to manage without BIM tools.”

Ala-Mantila was responsible for coordinating the project for three years. This role included managing some 400 subcontractors, coordinating materials fabrication and delivery, and working with the structural designers who created more than 500 BIM models. Project data from the accurate and information-rich 3D models were complete and easy to understand.

Irregular designs, complicated scheduling

Another big challenge came from the unusual shape of the 15,000-capacity multifunctional event complex, now called the Nokia Arena. Comprising thousands of segments of different shapes and sizes, the venue can best be described as an irregularly shaped oval. It’s also made up of multiple layers of materials.

“This beautiful design vision was not very easy to construct,” says Ala-Mantila. “Each part of the arena has slightly different size and slope dimensions, so there was a lot of variety in terms of bending the steelwork.”

“BIM was indispensable for this. You simply cannot draw everything in 2D and imagine how it will bend. You need 3D tools to do this work and see how it all fits together. As nobody has done this kind of project before, we really needed to be re-designing the whole time to get things right,” she says.

The 125,900 m2 development also features two towers with apartments, offices, a hotel and a casino. There’s a large underground car park too. With so many different sub-projects ongoing, steel fabrication for some materials would be underway while design work continued in other areas. Ala-Mantila and the team used Tekla Structures also for project management and sequencing to keep everything coordinated and on schedule.

“We added color-coded information into a shared model to indicate the real-time status of different tasks and to identify any interdependencies,” she says. “This helped us plan the scheduling and coordinate fabrication so that elements arrived on site exactly when needed.”

Tampere Deck and Arena Tekla structural BIM

BIM guides multimedia design too

3D modeling tools played a key role in designing and constructing the arena’s media room. 

This so-called ‘media cube’ is suspended by cables from the ceiling of the arena, and can be winched up and down as needed. When in its uppermost position against the ceiling, the cube is rotated and hidden between a maze of piping and hanging structures. It’s a very tight fight.

“Without a BIM, it would have been near impossible to coordinate the placement of the media cube between the HVAC pipes and lighting elements. We needed to plan this with centimeter precision,” says Ala-Mantila.

Building information models were also used by the arena’s Chief Digital Officer to plan the placement of multimedia displays and other digital services around the venue. With much of this planning work taking place remotely, the 3D models created by Ala-Mantila’s team were used to provide virtual tours of the venue for its future users. 

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