In Dubai, where tower blocks seem to pop up almost overnight, residents have grown adept at averting their eyes from building sites. But one construction project has caught everyone’s attention: the Museum of the Future, which has loomed up over the city’s elevated, driverless metro system on the edge of the financial district.
This building could not have been built without 3D BIM and laser scanning. Incredible.
From an article in the BBC Future by Elizabeth Bains
The museum’s framework, comprising 2,400 diagonally intersecting steel members, was completed in November 2018; the facade panels now are being lifted into place. The museum is due to open in a year – a momentous time for Dubai as it will be hosting the World Expo from 20 October 2020.
The architectural world defines the futuristic shape of the museum as a torus with an elliptical void, but a giant hula hoop might be a more accessible point of reference. Lath Carlson, executive director of the Museum of the Future, prefers to liken it to an eye. “We struggle a bit to describe the building to people who haven’t seen it,” he admits. “There is nothing that quite evokes the shape.”
The designs of the steel framework are known as a diagrid because it’s made of diagonally intersecting beams, and the lightweight facade. These were chosen over a steel or concrete shell as the most practicable solution for a building of this shape and complexity.
With endless possible permutations for the diagrid, BuroHappold, the contractor wrote its own growth algorithm to arrive at the optimal arrangement.
Creating the parametric scripting was a lengthy process, but it allowed BuroHappold to dictate outcomes – such as having the steel members be of a single diameter size and orderable from the market. “It was quite new for what we do,” says Bauly.
The result was a diagrid that was optimised in terms of the number of connection points, the diameter of the steel tubes and even the total weight of steel used – which, according to BuroHappold, translated into cost and time savings for the client, contractors and fabricators. Contractor Bam Higgs & Hill and structural steel fabricator Eversendai Engineering then conducted the construction sequencing analysis and connection design for the structure, taking into account the shifting stresses and loads during the erection process, before moving ahead with construction.
“The construction sequencing analysis is always a big risk to a project and you usually get a lot of member changes because of it,” explains Bauly. But on this project, he says, none of the steel members were altered due to the effort that had earlier gone into optimising and modelling the diagrid. “We applied the lessons from previous projects and using new technologies, we developed tools to solve problems that we know exist so we didn’t have to face them again.”
Having built the reinforced concrete ring beam and tower that support the diagrid, it took 14 months to complete the steel work. Throughout the construction process, laser scanning was used to compare the as-built positions with the 3D model.
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