Digital technology is having an increasing impact on the way the built environment is delivered. Melanie Dawson, director of digital construction at Graham, explains how the business is implementing cutting-edge technology to realise best-in-class projects that deliver lasting impact
Digital innovations in construction are increasingly essential to delivering high-quality projects. From improving efficiency on-site to engaging stakeholders and ensuring an industry-leading asset, digital technology has a crucial role to play.
This is demonstrated by the work being undertaken by Graham to deliver the first package of works for the Liverpool City Centre Connectivity scheme and the Strand Street build-to-rent scheme on Liverpool’s iconic waterfront.
Liverpool City Centre Connectivity Scheme (LCCC)
Liverpool City Council’s LCCC scheme is a multi-million pound programme to radically transform Liverpool’s city centre, making it easier to navigate for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.
The plan for the first stage of the project will see the re-engineering of major routes through the city’s commercial, retail and knowledge districts. This will include the creation of a new city centre bus hub and re-routed bus services, reducing carbon emissions in the city by 2,000 tonnes. In addition to this, work will be undertaken to improve connectivity between the retail district, the city’s universities and the new Paddington Village development.
A “digital first” approach has been implemented from the outset of LCCC phase one. Prior to groundwork commencing, a 360-degree camera was employed to capture images of key project areas including Victoria Street and Brownlow Hill. This allowed high-quality imagery of the area to be captured extremely efficiently and also created an accurate photo record of the original infrastructure. Through capturing image data in this way, seamless access to the images could be granted through a platform similar to Google Street View. This made it simple and easy to view original image records throughout various stages of the project, for various key stakeholders.
In addition to 360-degree image capture, a drone was used to capture data on the existing infrastructure through photogrammetry, which was then used to create a point cloud. This, in turn, provided the basis for the creation of a 3D model in BIM 360 Field.
Working with BIM 360 Field allowed the project team to benefit from on-site data management capabilities, which helped streamline workflows and drive efficiencies. This included allowing those on site to update checklists for quality assurance and quality control remotely and in real time. Those working on the project were also able to create site diaries. Here, site activity and work logs could be remotely updated in real time, ensuring an accurate and timely picture of project progress at all times.
Strand Street, Liverpool
In addition to civil engineering, digital technology can bring tangible benefits to building projects too. Graham’s ongoing work to deliver an ambitious residential build-to-rent scheme for Panacea on Liverpool’s iconic waterfront is a good example of this.
Strand Street is a 383-unit build-to-rent development featuring 163 one-bed apartments, 187 two-bed apartments and 45 three-bed apartments. The 16-storey building will also include a private gym and roof terrace, alongside 1,000 sq ft of commercial office space on the ground floor.
The use of digital technology throughout the project to date has been instrumental in its smooth delivery. As with the Liverpool City Centre Connectivity Scheme, BIM 360 Field has been used on the project to increase efficiency and ensure project updates are delivered in real-time – improving transparency in relation to project progress. Laser scanning will also be used to scan each apartment and create point cloud models containing extremely accurate data on measurements which can be verified and validated.
In addition to the operational benefits of embracing a digital approach to construction, Strand Street demonstrates how digital technology can improve stakeholder engagement.
Graham is currently in the process of creating virtual reality (VR) models of the project. These VR models can revolutionise client engagement, providing
unprecedented levels of information on the final outcome while the project is still ongoing. From a design perspective too, the use of VR can help inform important changes to interior design to ensure that the highest-quality asset is created for the end-user.
The project also stands as a testament to how wider public engagement can be significantly improved by technology. On Strand Street, QR codes have been placed on the site hoardings. This allows members of the public to quickly scan the codes with a QR code reader app on their phone to see what the luxury development will look like on completion. This can help generate goodwill towards the project – and is also a useful marketing tool, helping to build anticipation for the completion of the project and giving potential tenants an exclusive ‘first look’.
Overall, Strand Street and Liverpool City Centre Connectivity Scheme demonstrate how digital construction is shaping the future of the industry. The possibilities of digital construction creates has important implications for everyone involved in the built environment. As the industry strives to increase sustainability, productivity and ultimately the quality of our built environment – embracing a digital approach is essential.
Director of Digital Construction