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Dubai’s Museum of the Future Designed and Built Entirely on 4D BIM Algorithms

Dubai’s Museum of the Future symbolizes the maturity of technology use in complex design structures in the Middle East. The Torus design – a gleaming silver oval with an open centre - of the Museum of the Future has been achieved using laser scanning technology and 4D Building Information Modelling (BIM) algorithms, saving substantial time and money during construction.

Image credit: Dubai future foundation

BY GW Prime

Museum of the Future: A Radical Alternative to the Traditional Skyscrapers

Dubai is home to some world-famous and unparalleled architecture and engineering marvels such as Burj Khalifa, The Opus, and the Burj Al Arab. A new addition to these famous buildings is the Museum of the Future – the US$ 136 million, 30,000 square meter, fully parametric complicated steel façade and superstructure. The radical design of the Museum of the Future challenges the traditional skyscraper design forms, creating an iconic structure of style and substance. Situated next to another iconic building of the city – the Emirates Towers – the Museum will open to the public during Expo 2020. The seven floors of the finalized Torus structure will be an active space for innovations and will include an exhibition space showcasing futuristic concepts, services and products for cities, health care, and transportation. There will also be design studios and labs, restaurants, and a 400-seat auditorium.

As an incubator for innovation and invention, the design of the Museum of the Future is futuristic – an alluring combination of architecture, engineering and construction in its most accurate form. The principal consultant for the project is BuroHappold Engineering; the others are Killa Designs (Architect Studio) and BAM Higgs & Hill and Transgulf (Contractors).

The future belongs to those who can imagine it, design it, and execute it. While others try to predict the future, we create it. Museum of the Future will be an integrated environment, empowering creative minds to test, fund, and market ideas for futuristic prototypes and services.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Vice President and Prime Minister, UAE, Ruler of Dubai

Designing the Complicated Structure

The designing of the Museum of the Future was contracted to Killa Designs in 2015, under the consultancy guidance of BuroHappold Engineering firm. To showcase a futuristic and innovative style, Killa Designs based the design of the Museum of the Future on a ‘giant hula hoop’ or the ‘Torus’ design.  The Torus shape represents ‘what is known,’ – around ‘the unknown’ which is represented by the space at the centre of the structure. In essence, therefore, the Museum of the Future is a gleaming silver oval with an open centre.

The design of the structure was complex and complicated, and for this purpose, all stakeholders had to transition from 2D design to 3D and 4D BIM. The team had to necessarily learn and adopt BIM algorithms to use them across the entire project lifecycle. BIM was used not only to design the structure but also in the Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) engineering phase of the project.

Full-project Lifecycle BIM Realization

Technology Adoption

The project stakeholders relied on Autodesk’s AEC Collection – inclusive of Autodesk Revit, Autodesk Dynamic Studio, Autodesk Navisworks, Autodesk Robot Structural Analysis Professional and Autodesk 3DS Max — to enable the dynamic blend of art and conceptual design as part of the fully developed digital workflow across the project lifecycle. The stakeholders employed 4D sequencing in BIM and reality capture for visualization to ensure efficient engineering and construction processes. 

In the concept design phase of the project, that is, while designing the building structure, and preparing the construction drawings and documentation, the team used Autodesk Revit and Tekla BIM Sight. This way, the team could collaborate in one single place, that is, in a Common Data Environment (CDE) and work through challenges and conflicts in the structure, façade and MEP systems. This process also speeded up the communication between the stakeholders, further leading to faster decision-making, decrease in construction time, and cost savings during the entire process. The stakeholders also used immersive solutions (Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality) to visualize the project design, and enabled them to walk through the ‘virtual’ museum and check each element for clashes, design complexities, and other trades such as roofing, façade, and MEP, and fix them in the design phase itself. Further, in the 14-month-construction process, the stakeholders used laser scanning tools to compare the as-built positions with the 3D model designs. 

The collaborative process developed using BIM solutions also led the stakeholders to achieve LEED Platinum certification. The certification was achieved using Parametric Scripting in an architectural context for sensitivity analysis and to run expert-level Building Performance Simulation (BPS). The scripting was used to determine the position and final dimension of the character, create exhibition paths, and optimize the project’s complex elements. 

Value Proposition

The Museum of the Future was the Winner of the Tekla Middle East BIM Awards in 2018 and the Autodesk AEC Excellence Awards in 2017 for BIM Across the Construction Lifecycle.  The use of BIM in all phases of the construction lifecycle from design to construction helped improve communication, improve decision-making, quality control, and safety and material tracking. The use of BIM led to a 65% reduction in rework on-site and a 50% improvement in productivity as stakeholders were able to save substantial time and energy on the construction of the project. Further, the parametric design provided the project stakeholders with a 45% reduction in the use of water in the project, along with a 25% reduction in total energy.

In addition to the time and cost savings, the use of BIM and parametric scripting also reduced construction risks, complexities in designing and constructing the building, and led to reduction and controlled waste-material usage. It also optimized on-schedule delivery.  Thus, the value proposition of using BIM across the construction lifecycle and through the entire phase of realization turned the dream into reality.