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Building future-proof bridges with digitalisation

November 17, 2021 | News

Sweco is co-creating digital solutions with our clients to advance sustainable building design that transforms cities. In the Netherlands, one current Sweco project to construct a series of future-proof bridges is harnessing the potential of Building Information Management (BIM) and other digital technologies.

IJburg, an urban development residential district being built on reclaimed land in the eastern part of Amsterdam, has dozens of bridges. Three new large bridges are being built in the area to connect Haveneiland, Centrumeiland and Strandeiland; residential islands in the manmade IJburg archipelago, situated in the IJmeer lake.

Digital collaboration
Sweco consultants are using BIM in the IJburg projects and are seeing the advantages of using the digital collaboration tool in their work.
“The strength of BIM is found in working together from one uniform information model; it’s a ‘must’ for parties working from different countries and organisations,” says Ronnie Lauxen, Information Manager, Sweco. In the IJburg project, Sweco’s experts provide advice and services in design, engineering, procurement assistance and contract management in an integrated project team working together with the Municipality of Amsterdam’s Urban Planning team.

“The virtual BIM environment makes it possible, among other things, to work together efficiently, to deliver demonstrable quality and we can find design errors much earlier,” Lauxen explains. “We can also scan the digital health of a project to find where the process is not working as hoped or planned.  In doing so, we can find and repair process errors before they become an issue, to help run a project more smoothly,” he says.

The three bridges being built to connect Haveneiland, Centrumeiland and Strandeiland are of crucial importance for the accessibility to the area: for the traffic flow of cars, trams, cyclists and pedestrians and the transport of utilities to the islands.

In addition to their importance for accessibility the bridges; designed by London-based architectural firm Grimshaw, have become cultural works of art in the district due to their striking appearance with their characteristic wavy steel and lines.

Future-proof solutions
The bridges are made of steel and concrete, but by working with BIM and continuously looking for optimisation options, a ‘slim design’ has been created.

They have also been designed to anticipate the future: the road surfaces are quite high and flow from bridge to land, creating space for pavilions and a parking entrance at the abutment. The hull and the installations of the pavilions have already been included in the design and realisation process, which allows for a suitable function for these spaces to be found in the future, creating flexibility and adaptability.

“By utilising information and virtual technology from data models, we are able to visualise the use of both physical and functional objects for various stakeholders at an early stage of the project, and we ensure that the bridges will meet present and future needs of end users,” Ronnie Lauxen notes.

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