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Thales Campus: GA’s Winning BIM Project

GA’s work for the Thales Campus in Bordeaux, France, includes six buildings with total 60,000 square meters of space for about 2,500 employees.The construction project was completed following GA’s FullBIM® methodology, and it won the Tekla Global BIM Awards in 2016.

GA Group - nearly 140 years of experience

Convinced that facilities must serve corporate performance, GA Group has committed to design, innovation, and ergonomics aiming to create buildings that are pleasant to live and work in, offer quality workspaces, and thus enable employees to give their best.

GA’s track record resides in the building process developed with concrete prefabrication, mechanical assembly of equipment, along with structural and facade components. They produce everything in their five factories in France. GA’s highly developed industrial process guarantees executed quality and deliver according to agreements both in terms of schedules and pricing.

Innovative technology

GA’s engineering firm Omega with its 50 staff is one of the largest in the French construction market. It researches and develops solutions that perform well in terms of technology, energy consumption and environmental impact. The engineers work to invent and patent innovative processes, which anticipate future technological advancements.

In order to efficiently utilize their detailed model and the rich information it contains in different internal processes, GA integrated the standard components they use in production into an extensive component library in Tekla Structures.

Thanks to creating a company-specific, standardized working environment within Tekla Structures, the modeling and detailing work is very efficient and the detailed models have consistent information that benefits the different users in production and on site.

GA’s connections, detailed rebar cages and more, can simply be inserted in different precast profiles in the model to create an accurately detailed virtual building fast. All required information can be included in the constructible model and utilized to describe the building process precisely.

The models offer information for the fabrication process in the factory. The team included planning information for each component into a Tekla model, such as release dates for production, delivery, and factory assignments, creating a direct link between the engineering office and the factory.

Utilizing Tekla Open API™ (application programming interface), GA could develop specific macros between the model and production management tools, ensuring two-directional data transfer between project teams and the factory. On site, materials management, shoring and crane locations etc. are part of GA’s BIM concept, as are workshop equipment usage and programming of rebar bending machines. In terms of execution, Tekla enables maximum interoperability between design parties because of its accessibility and  quality of IFC exports. This makes flawless combination of different trades and completion of building possible, while attaining a high level of BIM.

"The digital thrust at the core of Omega, GA’s bedrock engineering unit, began in 2008. Tekla quickly became the obvious choice of software. The goal was to improve the internal production processes, tightly synced with GA’s prefabrication facilities, progressively converting all projects into a digital modeling base. Within months, the attempt succeeded."

Rémi Visière, Head of Research and Development, Groupe GA

Collaboration at the heart of the Thales Campus project

Thales Campus model seen in Trimble Connect, the collaboration platform

GA’s construction work for the Thales Group in Bordeaux covers 60,000 square meters of space for about 2,500 employees. The Campus includes six connected office buildings, a restaurant, a showroom, and other facilities. All technical equipment is located in a separate building. There is a green-roofed parking facility, and the ultramodern and environmentally friendly campus is HQE® and BREEAM certified.

Construction was completed following GA’s FullBIM® methodology. Tekla Structures, like other Trimble products such as the collaboration platform Trimble Connect, has been highly valued. The team’s principle was to connect different companies working on the project around a combined model which uses IFC file format. The FullBIM® approach ensures active collaboration of the participants, who have updated, real-time project information available.

The combined model continues evolving: It is compared to the actual buildings in order to provide a full BIM executed construction file (DOE) for the client Thales to use when operating the building.

Modeling Thales Campus

Tekla software enables a complete, total description of the construction – detailed structures, embeds, reinforcement, formwork and more. Whether used for off-site production in factories or for on-site construction, constructible models enable accurate estimations, automated material quantification and efficient project management, and ensure just-in-time deliveries of correct precast elements to the jobsite.

Each item is described in the model with the greatest accuracy. With the software, the team could generate Bills of Materials and production drawings automatically. Using Tekla Model Sharing accelerated modeling and increased the possibilities to share the Tekla model externally, especially with the jobsite teams.

BIM integration

The Tekla model has been the backbone of modeling throughout the project. GA used the model for prefabrication on a very detailed level. All framework and other relevant elements were exported in the IFC format and different models were combined with Tekla BIMsight and then integrated with IFC models of other structures and fittings. Modeling the secondary structures was done with Tekla, as was the steel structure intended for the use of certain subcontractors. Finally “Technical Guides” were modeled to prepare for different reservations.

Level of Development

In the factory, model information was used for fabrication.

The level of development was pushed to its maximum in the Tekla models with the goal to represent the project schedule very accurately and to ensure smooth progress on site. What is more, GA chose LOD (level of development) 600, which refers to including information for building operations and maintenance in the model.

Because the formwork, reinforcement, different concrete inserts, etc. were all modeled, the team achieved a terrific reactivity and better understanding of tasks remaining to be done by different teams. With a workstation with the Tekla model, the project manager could manage complex operations of the teams, notably for on-site placement of rebar, shuttering and more.

Additionally, simplified IFC exports of framework models were created and made available for subcontractors using Trimble Connect, the collaboration platform for construction.


During the engineering phase of the Thales Campus project, GA piloted direct transfer of Tekla model data to use in production in their factory. In addition to making the model communicate with their internal production monitoring software, the 3D model made a quality visual presentation of the elements they were to build, which eased finding understanding on the work to be done in the production. Each of the work instructions they made included a 3D visualization of the elements to be produced, and the corresponding information to view on screen. Result: greater accuracy and improved management of materials needed in production.

Construction site: 4D with BIM

4D visualization with Tekla Structures in May 2015

For GA, Building Information Modeling had a significant impact on meeting deadlines and achieving great construction quality. Integrating the teams through the FullBIM® Process enabled the BIM Management team to effectively combine information define a complete presentation protocol project.

BIM teams accelerated their decision-making and reduced the risk for unsatisfactory quality, especially in technically complex areas. 4D visualizations with Tekla and instant access to relevant information at any point led the teams to rethink how they follow-up the progress of the project. In other words, while in the past engineering and execution plans and schedules needed to be manually updated, today Tekla Structures is capable of visualizing this in real time. Because GA was able to filter project progress information based on the date and see it in 3D, it was much more realistic and easier to communicate to different stakeholders.

Also, the users could detect possible defects in provisioning and completing the construction. Experiences from the Thales Campus project have made the BIM process essential for GA’s core construction and manufacturing business, where Tekla, as a tool, already had a good place.


Thales Campus in figures

  • Surface area: 62,000 m²
  • Cost: €130 million
  • Construction schedule: 18 months, January 2015–June 2016
  • Digital models compiled: 2015

Read more about Tekla for precast fabrication