CW 2015 UAE Infra Conf: Update available

The UAE's engineers lag behind western nations in their use of 3D design software

L-R: Conference chair Wael Allan, Carl McKenzie, Brian Seward-Case, Ala Hanson
L-R: Conference chair Wael Allan, Carl McKenzie, Brian Seward-Case, Ala Hanson

The Middle East is seven years behind western nations when it comes to using 3D design technology – and it needs to catch up. That was the view expressed at a panel discussion called “Construction Quality and Material Optimisation” at the UAE Infrastructure Summit.

It examined the best way contractors, engineers and architects can combine their expertise in order to realise the best possible building design – as well as how collaboration can cut costs.

The industry can do far more in the fields of collaboration and site safety in order to achieve higher standards, said the panel, which agreed that too often a piecemeal approach is taken to a project.

Ala Hason, vice-president of HKS Architects, said: “As architects, all we care about is the design and it being built according to our vision. Buildings are about dreams for an architect, but for a contractor they about schedules and cost.

“For clients, they would like to have all three.”

One solution to the lack of communication across the industry could be greater use of BIM, the panel agreed.

Members said the contractors and suppliers should be bought into the design process at a far earlier stage and in much greater detail, so that a much more holistic approach is undertaken.

“When you are appointing people, make them part of a global team to achieve project goals,” said Hason. “We are seven years behind the western world when it comes to using BIM. We need to catch up.”

Martin Seward-Case of BWA Middle East defined what is meant by quality. He said: “It is the achievement of a minimum standard by a contractor – one that has been defined by the architect and the client. But we are a very fractured as an industry.

“There is an adversarial nature which results in wastage between the various layers, along with duplication of cost. We are highly inefficient but there are some simple things that we can do.”

Carl McKenzie, a director in Aecom’s healthcare practice, said the client has the job of balancing the various demands of the design team and contractors, but he added that quality control and standards vary across different sectors – with healthcare being the most stringent.

But the panel all agreed that Dubai has largely been successful in its effort to introduce and enforce standards.

Seward-Case said: “Dubai is a young place but it has advanced quite a lot.”

He said inspections of building standards are done online so “de-personalising the process” which he felt was positive, though sometimes inconvenient for project staff.

The panel agreed that more can be done on site to improve standards as well.

“Worker safety is important,” said Hason. “Sometimes [on a construction site] you see no hard hats, no safety glasses and there are cables everywhere.”

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