Translating design intent from across the globe
I recently attended the Bentley User Conference in Vejle, Denmark. The setting for this conference was idyllic and represented everything you’d imagine when thinking of Scandinavia. I attended the conference primarily to get a sense for the challenges our Danish counterparts are experiencing in project delivery and digital communication. Additionally, I hoped to hear some successes stories I could share with you back here in the States.
One story I heard was from a BIM manager with Henning Larsen Architects in Denmark. She told me about a project she’d recently completed overseas in the Middle East. I asked what was the most challenging part of working on a project over seven thousand miles away. She outlined two distinct challenges and offered some interesting solutions to those challenges.
The first challenge was environmental. One of the main reasons her firm was hired was for their Scandinavian design aesthetic. How do you blend Scandinavian design with a desert environment? If you’re familiar with Scandinavian architecture, most buildings are designed in such a way that they capture as much natural light as possible. The main reason for this is the simple fact that sunlight is a precious commodity in this part of the world.
Obviously, in a desert environment much closer to the equator, sunlight is plentiful year-round. Therefore, challenge number one was to design the building so that she could translate the open and airy Scandinavian feel without overpowering the building with too much sunlight, overheating and overexposing the common spaces. Her design solution came in the form of a façade with many smaller openings acting as a filter, controlling the amount of sunlight filling the internal spaces.
Once she worked out her solution to challenge number one, she faced challenge number two: how to effectively communicate this design intent to a client in another part of the world. She said it took her many trips back and forth to the Middle East, bringing with her visual aids and 3D models to try and communicate her ideas; she admitted it was challenging. Even though her firm was hired for their specific design esthetic, there were natural differences in taste that required delicate negotiations to find compromises. Likewise, a single meeting often didn’t allow enough time for discussions to evolve to where compromises could be achieved. These things take time, and being able to visit and revisit ideas over time is crucial to ensuring design intent is accurately matching the owner’s expectation.
Being that my expertise lies in digital communication and collaboration, naturally I asked her what technology she used to collaborate with her client. She mentioned that they used video chat conference calls as one of their collaboration tools, but often times it wasn’t as effective as getting back on a plane with drawings and physical samples in hand.
I shared with her information on collaboration technology used by our customers which allows design discussions to go on for as long as you need them to. In our particular case, Bluebeam Studio provides a cloud-based virtual meeting room where 2D and 3D drawings can be viewed together, with redlined comments and supporting imagery saved for viewing and reviewing in order to allow ideas and thoughts time to develop without starting again from scratch.
Having a place to store these discussions, with their related visual aids, helps to move the process along. Had she been able to share drawings, 3D models and images in a virtual meeting room, leaving them up for as long as the discussion required, she may have been able to save herself a trip or two.
How have you solved your most delicate design discussions? Has technology played a supporting role in any of your successes?
Editor's Note: This is sponsored content. Text and images were provided by the sponsor company.