Bridging Miles Over the BIM Server, Soltani + leClercq
The duo team of Soltani+leClercq is managing a project located thousands of miles away by taking full advantage of the BIM Server in ArchiCAD. The building contains seven apartment units, with those on the uppermost floors set up like villas, with each unit featuring an ample terrace. By all estimates, if the project continues to move forward on schedule, the building should be completed and ready for tenants in January of next year.
The multi-unit residential project, situated about 30 kilometers outside of Tehran has presented a number of challenges, all of which have been met and exceeded with the help of technology.
The remote location of the project and unsettled nature of the country in which it resides prevents frequent site visits, if any. So the firm is monitoring, managing and staying on top of all construction and project details through the 3D ArchiCAD model, Skype and IP cameras.
Ali Soltani, partner and principal of Soltani+leClercq speaks about the crucial role of technology while keeping true to the final architectural result, “This isn’t some technological gadget on a pedestal, we are still doing architecture using technology at its best and we are fortunate to have the sophistication of our ArchiCAD model – since we are supervising everything from our offices here in New York. The building has already been ‘virtually built’ – in terms of the model, now we have to make sure everything that happened in the model, happens in real life. There is no way we could be building this without ArchiCAD – we have the ability to say that as far as the actual construction goes, the building could have been put together on autopilot because of how detailed our ArchiCAD model is.”
The residential building contains underground parking, living units, and a commercial space which have all been arranged to take full advantage of the view of the mountains nearby. Despite containing more than one thousand drawings, Soltani says the model is nimble enough to keep up with changes on the fly.
“It is critical to our way of working, very hands on, but managed on the fly. The textures on surfaces aren’t merely fills they are lines that are drawn or derived directly from the Archicad model, in this way contractors can comprehend the intent, but we’re modeling in 3D which helps us visualize the impact of any changes on the building as a whole.”
Iran has a turbulent past, which not only leads to supply delays and obstacles unique to the area, it also delayed the country’s development and adoption of sustainable and environmentally sound building standards. Soltani says his firm has been able to pioneer some changes by demonstrating simple ways to make a building more efficient and sustainable through the ArchiCAD model.
“Sadly in spite of a dire environmental crisis it is facing, the country of Iran has fallen behind in things we here take for granted – solar power, hybrid automobile technology, harvesting rainwater and the like. Iran has an amazing resource they’ve historically failed to exploit, the sun. So we made sure we included solar heating in our early design, in ArchiCAD, to help our client understand how simple it is. The building is being constructed so that 100% of the water’s heating needs will be powered by solar energy. While the incorporation of clean fuel energy is becoming the building industry standard in most of the world, there is a staggering lack of environmental policies in Iran, particularly in a country where according to the latest World Health Organization numbers, has 4 out of the 10 worst-polluted cities in the world; according to the statistics of the Health Ministry, close to 5000 people lost their lives due to air pollution in 2013 in Tehran alone. It would be an arrant apathy on our part not to raise the awareness on the environmental issues and set an example as responsible builders. ”
Soltani+leClercq have also taken advantage of the building’s natural surroundings to enhance environmental efficiency. Situated on a plateau at the eastern-most edge of an urban development, the site is distinguished by a sharp drop of elevation to its east, very near the range of the Alborz Mountains, which provides cooling winds. A cooling tower placed in the direction of the accelerating winds descending from the higher elevations acts as a heat exchanger and is used to extract heat from a water reserve relying on air alone , additionally, every drop of precious rain water that falls in the arid area will be collected via a 300 square meter rain water collection system.
Designed to include a central courtyard, the building follows Middle Eastern traditional design practice, which keeps the center of the space cooler. A brick wall acts as a giant diffuser of air flow, keeping air moving helps cool residents naturally, with minimal drain on electricity.
“We are, through high-tech, planning low tech ways of keeping cool. The in-between space comprising of the garden is sheltered by the exterior walls at North, South and South-East against harsh winter winds while during the summer it acts as a wind basin. A shallow pool typical of Iranian gardens will be incorporated to act as a natural ventilation device, the resulting change in air temperature as it comes in contact with water together with evaporative effects produce a mild air shift. The flow of this air to the living units directly from the garden is both an olfactory and a cooling agent and will help in reducing energy consumption.”
You can follow the project as it progresses at the company’s blog here.