BIM and complex freeform design: a case study of the Doha Marina Mall – David Kosdruy

Innovations in computational design like parametric form finding and T-splines have enabled Architects to envision new shapes and forms for buildings designs inspired by nature.

BIM enables the building industry to plan and build more efficiently. This case study will focus on the possibilities to combine complex form finding techniques and BIM in the context of a fast pace, economically driven project.

The Marina Mall is a 60.000 sqm shopping mall project located in the new Lusail development in Doha, Qatar. The design is inspired by the natural forms created when water and land meet. It features an 80.000 sqm freeform façade that is fitted to wrap around the different uses of the mall. The project went from initial design to tender documents in less than 12 months. In this time period BIM was used across different platforms (Revit, Rhino, Grasshopper, Navisworks) as the central tool for the design, planning and coordination process. The project was developed with the contribution of architecture and engineering offices across 4 time zones.

In the design process several optimisation and rationalisation techniques were used to panelise the complex facade and reduce the number of panels that are double curved and have to be produced with high cost. For the complex design went in hand with a strict business plan the ability to use the BIM for cost control purposes was essential. In connection with custom optimisation tools the BIM helped to control this process. The data gained from the model options could be directly linked to the costing models of the cost consultants and be shared with the client at any time. This process helped to make this ambitious design buildable. As part of the BIM deliverables the design team developed tools and scripts that could automatically generate detail drawings for each of the 1280 planar facade substructure beams used in the project.

The case study will also look at managing a BIM efficiently across different time zones. The architecture project team was split between London, Dubai and Toronto to use the advantages of the proximity to the client as well as the know how in complex design of the London office. This set up put cross country BIM collaboration to a test. The case study will talk about the challenges and the lessons learned from this process.


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David Kosdruy, Computational Design Architect, HOK