UK: As one of the world’s leading educational establishments, it is perhaps appropriate that Cambridge University should be at the centre of a project integrating cutting-edge building information modelling (BIM).

As the UK construction industry moves towards ever-greater integration of BIM, the new international hq for Cambridge Assessment, the University of Cambridge’s international examinations group, offers an example of how the effective use of BIM can benefit all parties, and deliver top-quality outcomes.

Called the Triangle, the new building is scheduled for occupation in 2018. This new international headquarters will bring together all Cambridge Assessment’s Cambridge-based staff, currently based in 11 different offices across the city, under one roof. It will ultimately house up to 3,000 employees.

The Triangle has been designed as a sustainable building using cutting-edge techniques and new technologies, such as chilled beams and modular installations. It will also create a new landmark: a 39m tower which will be highly visible to all who approach Cambridge from the south. Accommodation will include office space, catering areas, archive facilities, meeting rooms and outdoor spaces for both work and relaxation.

In late 2015 Cambridge Assessment awarded the £120m design and build contract to Bouygues UK, the British subsidiary of Bouygues Construction.

The use of BIM and associated best practice has been key to the development from the beginning. Explaining the rationale behind it, Bouygues UK M&E manager Brian Brewis said: “When used to best advantage, BIM is every bit as much about the modelling and integration of optimal construction process and logistics, as it about modelling the building itself. We are delighted at the enthusiasm for BIM applications that has been shown by our partners on this project, and together we have been realising the benefits of BIM best practice, such as optimised logistics, warehousing and delivery schedules, from the outset.”

Working together

Bouygues UK has worked closely with Newmarket-based Allied Mechanical Services in delivering MEP services for the Triangle contract. Allied turned to Woleseley Group wholesaler Pipe Center for further input. By liaising with staff at Pipe Center’s Cambridge branch, Allied has been able to take advantage of the company’s logistical capabilities and advantageous relationships with manufacturers. These have allowed Allied to purchase bespoke components, manufactured away from the site prior to use, while the logistical capability and network of Pipe Center and Climate Center outlets has ensured that the resulting modular components are delivered locally and on time.

Outsourcing the piping pre -fabrication are seen to bring several advantages: one is access to innovative tools, processes and materials that are constantly evolving to increase efficiencies. This allows pipes to be made to precise, bespoke specifications in a more cost-efficient way than would be possible on-site.

Pipe Center also offers storage so that customers do not have the burden of providing floor space or other logistical costs. They are also protected from theft and vandalism that can occur when items are kept on-site. Additionally, the project is being delivered with the use of lightweight duct work and pre-installed pipework which bring efficiencies to the programme, and is the first time that this is being used on a project in the UK.

The collaboration also included a pre-fabricated plant room which has been a joint venture between Bouygues UK, Allied and Pipe Center.