Advanced BIM Plays Key Role in Design of Sydney’s Urban Renewal Plan

Johnson Pilton Walker (JPW), the lead design firm of Sydney’s Urban Renewal Plan implemented advanced BIM solutions with computational design, Digital Twins, and GenerativeComponents to automate design processes and save significant time, resources, and costs.

Source: Johnson Pilton Walker

The Parramatta Square in Parramatta City is a precinct alive with commerce and culture and is a major commercial suburban hub in the Greater Sydney Region. The total area spans over three hectares of land, offering 290,000 square meters of premium office space and residential, retail, and civic facilities.  The heart of this urbanization effort is the reconstruction of 6 & 8 Parramatta Square – two commercial offices, of which 8 Parramatta Square is set to be Australia’s largest commercial tower at 55 stories and 243 meters in height, when completed. The commercial towers are expected to revitalize Australia’s second-oldest city center to create a lively and cosmopolitan environment. Worth approximately AUD 600 million, the iconic project, once completed, will widen the city skyline. The project will incorporate cutting-edge, sustainable and one-of-a-kind design, rewriting the highest standards of global architecture. Sydney-based architectural practice, Johnson Pilton Walker (JPW), is the lead design firm for this project, collaborating with multiple engineering disciplines and consultants.

Advanced BIM and Digital Twin Facilitates Collaborative and Coordinated Design Workflows

Project Objectives:

Technology Implementation:

The challenge: intricate infrastructure plan and design

The renovation of 6 and 8 Parramatta Square includes construction of the largest commercial tower in Australia. The project, thus, required intricate infrastructure planning and design to ensure that the buildings and public spaces were seamlessly integrated into the design model, owing to their proximity to a major railway station with limited road access. In addition, the design models had to take into consideration the strict regulations imposed by the local authorities to protect the heritage site. Further, the design models were also expected to address issues such as solar access, energy efficiency, sustainability, flexible workspace, and pedestrian permeability, which could not be solved in 2D CAD solutions. Thus, the height of the commercial tower, combined with an accelerated timeline, presented a diverse range of design and delivery challenges. To overcome all these challenges, JPW decided to implement digital BIM solutions to streamline workflows and optimize the design process.

Advancing BIM through computational design

From the early conceptual design stage itself, JPW evaluated the stages wherein computational design methods would help them address the challenges associated with the project. For this purpose, the firm relied on Bentley’s OpenBuildings Designer to model the basement podium using traditional BIM principles.  The design team realized the necessity and benefit of integrating computational design for the geometrically driven design aspects—including the façade, tower structure, and ceilings—to advance BIM and the workflow efficiencies. Therefore, JPW relied heavily on the interoperability of Bentley’s OpenBuildings Designer’s built-in GenerativeComponents feature to successfully resolve differences between engineering and architectural workflows.

Source: Johnson Pilton Walker

The interoperability of GenerativeComponents with Excel allowed interaction of spatial data with the tabular structural engineering data for the floors, beams, and columns, while developing the design for the tower structure. All the Excel data for the column height and beams was imported into OpenBuildings Designer to generate visual 3D models. For the floor slabs, JPW came up with a recursive script in OpenBuildings Designer to individually model the slabs, level by level, correctly identifying the placement of services as solids and color-coding them according to their respective disciplines.

Source: Johnson Pilton Walker
Source: Johnson Pilton Walker

Using OpenBuildings Designer, the team was also able to generate a unique script that established a polygonal grid as an envelope. The grid encompassed the building where each polygon was parametrically modelled to simplify modification, as well as represent a panel type in the façade system. By creating an Excel spreadsheet and tying it back to the OpenBuildings Designer script, JPW created over 8,000 panels across the façade. The team took each of the panels and applied them to the polygon envelope based on colour, automating and accelerating the generation of a complete façade model.

Source: Johnson Pilton Walker

Leveraging GenerativeComponents drives efficiencies

By leveraging the algorithm-driven features of OpenBuildings Designer, JPW was able to maximize data potential by developing scripts and performing parametric modelling to automate the previous manual processes. The conceptual design solution streamlined workflows for the tower structure, façade, and ceilings, enabling two people to design and generate data for more than 1,400 tower columns, 8,000 façade panels, and 179,000 ceiling tiles. Using OpenBuildings Designer, the designers could check and update the tower columns in just an hour, which previously would have taken one person a week to complete the same task.  The designers were also able to model all the façade panels in less than one hour, compared to two weeks when traditional methods were used.  By iterative and automated scripting, the team was able to quickly explore numerous options for shading and solar access to deliver an elegant, energy-efficient façade and comfortable indoor working environments.

Source: Johnson Pilton Walker

Computational design methodologies have played an integral part in the detailed design development and documentation process of the commercial tower. Integrated design solution by Bentley facilitated accurate building design, including input and changes from contractors. By integrating color-coding for visual differentiation and scripting failure mechanisms into the data flow, JPW automated design verification, replacing manual methods of error-checking and eliminating the risk of human error. Over the entire project period, JPW achieved significant time and cost savings, as well as optimized design outcomes to meet all planning and sustainability goals.

Digital Twin facilitates design coordination

JPW used OpenBuildings Designer to set up a connected data environment to facilitate integrated design by implementing a Digital Twin. JPW relied heavily on digital data provided by all services and structural engineering consultants. Therefore, they needed to ensure that these models and their documentation methodology were aligned with the architecture. Using the Digital Twin as an architectural control model to reference multidiscipline data, JPW tested design alternatives to determine the architectural impact that enabled the resolution of complex spatial parameters and clashes. Using the integrated 3D model allowed the architects to identify inconsistencies in design and resolve them in a timely manner. It also aided JPW in mitigating any negative financial and architectural impact and avoiding rework.

The Digital Twin seamlessly aided in timely exchange of data and models in formats accessible to all project participants. Bentley’s 3D digital application facilitated the generation of 2D drawings and documentation directly from the model. This helped in streamlining both office workflows and coordination processes between architects, contractors, and consultants. Using the Digital Twin from conceptual design through construction, the team arrived at a design solution that upheld the architectural vision of the client and helped the designers achieve ecologically sustainable goals.


The project was selected as one of three finalists in the Buildings and Campuses category for Bentley Systems Year in Infrastructure 2019 awards.

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