Michelin Factory Revitalisation - Renzo Piano Building Workshop
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Michelin Factory Revitalisation

Renzo Piano Building Workshop

Edited By Lorena Alessio - 5 May 2010
The term Building Information Modeling (BIM) was first coined in the Eighties by American research centres. An IT system providing better management and control during planning and execution phases, BIM gradually spread to many sectors of the design and construction industry. To use it, architects need to become acquainted with latest generation operative software. BIM creates a virtual model of a given building using all input information and presenting it in various forms. 3D project analysis and spatial and functional projections are just two examples of the sort of modelling provided. The system also assesses materials under given conditions, and can study specific building sections. It carries out structural analyses, calculates technical plant requirements, energy consumption and building systems, and calculates and plans the various construction phases. The model can be altered by inputting new data; results can be verified at any moment. A major planning tool, BIM uses a parametric model. Shapes and forms are assessed on the basis of a series of variables established each time. Selected building parts or the relationship between parts can be analysed on the bases of different parameters. BIM has brought about sea changes in all the industries that have adopted it - from aerospace to IT. In architecture, practices like SOM, KPF, F.O. Gehry and ShoP all use BIM from the initial planning phases of a building through to execution. In Italy, architectural practices are only now beginning to adopt it. Renzo Piano’s Building Workshop (RPBW) is using the Revit Architecture system on the revitalisation project for the former Michelin factory brown site in Trent, Italy as a design and monitoring tool. Developed as a dedicated BIM function, Autodesk Revit Architecture provides initial planning as well as executive production planning analyses, optimising work shaare-out among engineers, sub-contractors and owners. Any modification fed into the system will automatically be applied to the whole project and attendant documents, making for more accurate, streamlined processes. Revit Architecture also supports sustainable architecture design, exporting project data onto gbXML (Green Building Extensible Markup Language) that will run energy assessment tests. The Trent project was an opportunity for RPBW to make the transition from its Autocad-generated design system to some of the Revit Architecture application platforms. It was a gradual transition and involved the design of one of the two public buildings earmarked for the new district: the Science Museum. The Museum is part of a much wider urban regeneration project comprising some 97,600 sq m of gross usable surface area to be re-connected to the existing urban fabric and nearby river thanks to better use of its natural resources. The new project provides for a mix of public and private functions (residential, offices, shops, cultural, congress and recreational areas) designed to turn what is now a marginalised hinterland into a lively urban district. The built volumes will be concentrated in one area so as to free up sufficient green space for a park leading down to the river. Water canals will also be a characteristic, unifying feature, traversing the area from south to north. A reflective pool surrounds the museum. Water will have a recreational function and be the focus of study excursions organised by the Science museum. The canals will also serve as catchment basins storing water for irrigation and fire-fighting and as compensating reservoirs for run-off cooling water before being returned to the river Adige. Appropriately, latest-generation sustainability and energy efficiency applications will be implemented at the Science Museum. RPBW’s choice of technical plant, general infrastructure and other technological features is geared to ensure tangible measurements of the building’s energy efficiency. This will afford “special” buildings, i.e. the Science Museum, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification while the other prevalently residential and/or tertiary volumes will be Casa Clima certified. The environment-friendly features include an optimised central trigeneration heating and cooling plant for the whole district and a carefully monitored thermal building envelope that reduces heat dispersion. The museum is also equipped with renewable energy applications. All the roofs of the 25 buildings on the site are clad with photovoltaic panels for a total of some 2000 sq m. The opaque museum roofs are clad with a total of approximately 340 sq m of photovoltaic panels on special supports inclining them at a 230 south vis-à-vis the roof pitch. In short, the executive drawings for the Science Museum were prepared with the assistance of Revit Architecture. The software was used during the phase from the definitive plan through to the construction details. These latter were developed using Autocad. Revit proved particularly useful when defining abaci, calculating stratigraphy and verifying quantities. In the design phase, Revit proved an excellent dimension-monitoring tool. We will have to wait until the system is more widely adopted before it can be used as an interactive tool in the executive and building phase and so allow it to show its full potential. Architects, engineers and contractors will then be able to benefit fully from the BIM system once it is used by all practitioners as the baseline instrument with which to dialogue, monitor and plan.

Lorena Alessio
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