The Hickman: Digital twin delivers the ‘world’s smartest building’

the hickman
© Zishan Khan Photography

The Hickman in London has become the first building in the world to achieve a Platinum rating from SmartScore, the certification scheme for smart buildings

The Hickman was completed by developer Great Portland Estates (GPE) in September 2020, delivering 75,300 sq ft of sustainable, tech-enabled office space in Whitechapel, London.

Close to Aldgate East Underground station and the soon-to-open Elizabeth Line Crossrail station, the site comprises The Hickman, Challenger House, a 171-bedroom hotel, and two courtyards to the rear.

Work on The Hickman included extending and refurbishing the building, relocating the office entrance, rotating the core to improve the efficiency of the floorplates and replacing the building’s services.

The Hickman is a tech-enabled building, with occupiers able to access a number of services and amenities, as well as controls for their office environment, via a smart workplace app, sesame™.

The app allows contactless access to the building and lifts, control of building services and provides both data to optimise office space and detailed, real-time energy analysis.

In addition, staff can book desks before they leave home, check the building’s air quality or view up-to-date transport data to help them avoid busy times. On their journey, they can browse 150 magazines and pre-order a coffee to pick up from the café in reception. Once at their desk, they can control lighting and temperature via the app.

An intelligent digital twin

The foundation of The Hickman’s technology is a digital twin created with Twinview.

This connected the digital model used during construction with the building’s management system through a variety of sensors, bringing a range of data sources together on a single dashboard, including occupancy, temperature, air quality, light levels and energy consumption.

Bringing together all property data in one place begins to optimise energy performance, reduce costs and carbon and improves user experience. Meanwhile, having a history of all maintenance decisions or changes to the building creates what Twinview calls a “digital golden thread”.

Ben Malone, implementation director of Twinview, said: “The process with integrating The Hickman with Twinview was straightforward. Naturally, GPE was provided with all the architectural drawings and files upon completion of the project.

“We took those files, which generally need expensive and powerful machines to use, and loaded them into our Twinview infrastructure, allowing them to be used from any web browser.

“We linked all the building’s assets, granting GPE to access, manage and monitor any asset that is linked to the IoT remotely.

“Recently, we fitted over 1,000 QR codes with Bluetooth beacons to each of the building’s assets so that when entering a room, you can quickly identify which assets are near that space.”

In the future, GPE plans to harness machine learning to predict failures before they occur and feed this information into its development pipeline.

James Pellatt, GPE director of workplace and innovation, said: “The SmartScore Platinum rating demonstrates our vision of continuous innovation to enhance the occupier workplace experience.

“The combination of the digital twin to optimise operational energy, together with the integration of sesame™ means that occupiers and their staff enjoy a sustainable and productive workplace.”

The world’s smartest building?

In July, The Hickman became the first building globally to achieve WiredScore’s SmartScore Platinum rating.

WiredScore launched SmartScore, the certification for smart buildings, in April 2021. This worldwide standard aims to identify smart buildings that deliver exceptional user experience, drive cost efficiency, deliver high standards of sustainability and are fully futureproof.

A SmartScore Platinum building must demonstrate cutting-edge innovation and the use of marketing-leading technology, processes and automation that deliver world-class outcomes for building users, as well as creating efficient, inspiration and sustainable buildings.

To achieve the rating, owners have to demonstrate not only enhanced functionality but also that a building’s technological foundation makes it futureproof.

Tom McClellan, country director for the UK and Ireland at WiredScore, said: “Improving and enhancing buildings to meet the ever-changing landscape of the real estate industry is a significant challenge.

“In achieving the SmartScore Platinum rating globally, the highest possible rating for SmartScore certification, Great Portland Estates has demonstrated its commitment to a more sustainable, digitally sound future, with technology at its heart.

“As a result, the tenants of The Hickman will be among the first in the world to profit from a truly smart building, which will deliver an exceptional end-user experience.”


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