Collaborative Working in Construction: Software Innovation Secures Scheme’s Success

The AUS$3.6 billion Queen’s Wharf project will bring an integrated leisure and residential development to Brisbane. A massive undertaking, its construction is underpinned by information technologies, notably data-sharing.
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Brisbane is no stranger to expansion. Established in the early 19th century as a small settlement on the east coast of Australia, it has since grown into a bustling metropolis and is now the country’s third largest city.

Today, its soaring skyscrapers, diverse economy and port positioning mark it out as an important hub, yet the new scheme at Queen’s Wharf Brisbane takes the city’s ambitions to a different level.

Extending across 26 hectares of land and water, the AUS$3.6 billion Queen’s Wharf project is the largest district development ever undertaken in the southern hemisphere and one of the biggest builds attempted in Queensland.

Led by the Destination Brisbane Consortium (DBC)—a joint venture between The Star Entertainment Group and Hong Kong-based Chow Tai Fook Enterprises and Far East Consortium—once it’s completed Queen’s Wharf will feature 2,000 residential apartments, 1,000 hotel rooms, a 1,000-seat ballroom, 50 new bars and restaurants, 12 football pitches’ worth of public space, a huge sky deck and a new pedestrian bridge across the river.

Queen’s Wharf: A Unique Project

The development will feature four new towers and see the restoration of several nearby heritage buildings. Construction of the main integrated resort development, including the towers and public space, is being done by principal contractor Multiplex. Maritime work in the Brisbane River is well advanced and will eventually provide 6,500m² of new public space to be known as “The Landing,” works that are being undertaken by Probuild, while the Neville Bonner pedestrian bridge will be built by Fitzgerald Constructions Australia.

Almost everything about the scheme is unique. Kicking off the work in 2016, engineers undertook the largest demolition and construction scheme ever attempted in central Brisbane. To build the structural foundations and create space for a five-storey basement carpark, a 26-metre hole was dug out which saw nearly half a million cubic metres of material removed.

With excavation completed in 2019, the development has been steadily rising across the basement and two further podium floors, eventually reaching street level. From there, the four new towers will start to rise. The entire resort scheme is expected to be delivered in late 2022.

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Data Accessibility Using Construction Collaboration Software

A key factor in the progress being made by those working on Queen’s Wharf has been the access to data. Building a new district of this scale and next to a river in a historic city centre is a highly complex task.

The project team, led by lead architect Cottee Parker, has embraced construction collaboration software to plan and coordinate vast amounts of design data, working in an information modelling environment and employing 16 different software tools across 39 contributing companies—from architects and engineers to contractors and suppliers. Information modelling allows the team to seamlessly organise all of the project’s key data sets centrally, allowing easy access to those who need them.

While there are numerous parties working on Queen’s Wharf, Nemetschek Group products have perhaps had the biggest impact on the scheme, as they have on projects across the globe. Nemetschek’s software tools are leading to positive change for the construction industry around the world, providing support where it is most needed.

Meanwhile, the firm’s environmental credentials have been recognised by the United Nations, which invited the group to be part of the 50 Climate & Sustainability Leaders Campaign, which says the commitment of its constituents  “demonstrates the desire, the leadership, and the will to take effective action in the fight against climate change”.

Four Software Brands, Collaboratively Working in Construction

Of Nemetschek’s 16 software brands, four have been employed across the mainstage of the Queen’s Wharf project—Graphisoft’s Archicad for the design, dRofus for the data management, Solibri Office for model checking and Bluebeam Revu for the comprehensive digital documentation. These cover the entire life cycle of the development, from planning to operation, making life easier for architects, engineers, contractors and users alike.

The DBC had requested the vendor-independent Open BIM approach be used on the development, allowing all parties to work with the tools they prefer. Gabor Gulyas, project lead and operations manager for digital engineering at DBM Vircon, the project management firm responsible for the overall construction work, said: “Interoperability and a consistent Open BIM workflow are essential for this project. There is no way around it, if you keep in mind that up to 300 people are working on the design models at the same time in peak periods, coordinating over 200 different models.”

The team working at the design stage was enabled by Graphisoft’s Archicad. Following integrated design principles, architects and engineers were able to review and check the same models in real time, picking up errors long before they occurred on site. The tool’s Open BIM compatibility meant that any models could be brought in and coordinated in Archicad, improving communications and teamwork.

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Saving Time, Money

Time is money in a construction project, and when parts of a scheme can’t be built because of a lack of clear design information—or, worse, when something is built incorrectly—the knock-on effect can be huge. To avoid such situations arising on a project as large and complex as Queen’s Wharf, the team used Solibri to check design information before data was issued to the contractors on the ground. This approach de-risked a critical step, saving both the time and money by avoiding errors occurring on site.

Aside from ensuring information is present and correct, another challenge on a project of the scale of Queen’s Wharf can be locating and accessing what people need across, especially once everyone is on site and activity is at its height. Creating a level playing field, one where people can find and access the information they need, is essential. This is especially important when one considers that digital skills can vary considerably among different team members.

Using Bluebeam Revu, Cottee Parker has saved the team from having to navigate thousands of physical documents by introducing a digital paperless workflow. This approach has cut in half the time spent reviewing drawings, while decisions involving multiple stakeholders have been taken more quickly, since even those previously unfamiliar with the software are able to pick it up easily.

The volume of information being produced on a project like Queen’s Wharf is immense; there are 10,000 times more documents than one would normally find in a domestic building. Helping the team process all this data, dRofus was able to consolidate the huge amounts of information coming in from multiple sources, keeping it all in one place and allowing users to access and edit it easily when needed.

While information modelling has been essential in the design and construction phases, it’ll play an arguably greater role once Queen’s Wharf is completed, helping to manage and maintain the new district throughout its 99-year lease. Enabled by technology, the development team is speeding toward its goal of completing the core elements of the project in 2022, with renovation of the site’s heritage structures, including the historic Treasury building, expected to be finished in 2024.

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New Life

Set to bring new life to Brisbane for the second time in its history, the gateway at Queen’s Wharf demonstrates the construction sector’s importance and ability in shaping cities and communities around the world, triggering economic growth and highlighting the incredible groups of people who make it all happen, using technology to deal with the complexities that arise, delivering a built environment people can use every day and be proud of through remarkable complexities with technology by their side. Viktor Varkonyi, chief division officer, plan and design division, and a member of the Nemetschek Group’s executive board, sums it up: “Open BIM, data-driven workflows and an integrated design approach: Queen’s Wharf is clearly a role model for any modern construction project. Working very closely with the projects teams, we are excited to provide the backbone for a seamless collaboration across the entire construction lifecycle in this large-scale project.”

Find out more about the Cottee Parker case study