Iconic Projects and Their Influence on Contemporary Engineering Practices

George Cunha
Associate Principal
Arup, Sydney

Current engineering is moving rapidly towards digital based design, documentation, and delivery systems. In the current fast paced construction environment the efficient use of limited resources and time is as important as, and possibly more important than, before. Iconic projects like the Dr. Chau Chak Wing Building, in which excellence and function are requirements, present an opportunity to develop ideas and apply creativity against practical limitations.

Iconic design requires both imagination and practicality to be achieved. The nature of iconic projects is that they inherently contain elements for which little or no previous precedent exists, and as such require the development of new ways and methods – thinking out of the box to make something new possible. The need to iterate the design quickly to demonstrate feasibility and practicality is increasingly important. This is often a factor that deters pursuing creativity and uniqueness resulting from perceived risk.

The Dr Chau Chak Wing Building and similar iconic projects are examples. The building could not be designed, documented, and constructed in conventional 2D and traditional BIM methods. Digital Engineering systems, including parametric modeling and close collaboration between diverse teams and industry experts were required. This was not limited to front-end design but extended into construction – a key benefit.

“Iconic” projects often serve as breeding grounds or incubators of better and faster ways of designing and delivering projects. The presentation aimed to describe the approaches adopted on the project for both design and construction as well as current trends in parametric systems such as Rhino, Grasshopper, and others.

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