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Architects that want to reflect before the leap

In today's complex construction world, with more and more stakeholders and components, Gatun Arkitekter wants to integrate analysis, construction and design. They want to create knowledge to shape a human architecture. To assist them they have IFC, BIP and perhaps an APA or two at hand.

Gatun Arkitekter, that was called Scheiwiller Svensson Arkitektkontor at the formation in 1996, today consists of some fifty employees with ongoing projects throughout Sweden as well as some outside the country. The office is housed in an industrial building at Åsögatan on the island of Södermalm in Stockholm, equipped with yellow-painted steel columns and beams.

Interior at Gatun. Picture: Hans Loord

Already in the 1670s a brewery was established here. In 1929 the brewery took over the name “St Erik’s Brewery” from the former name “Neumüller’s Brewery”, but the brewery business was closed in 1959. The premises were acquired in 1961 by Stalands, and also rebuilt them to present-day’s appearance. Gatun deals with everything from interior design and public buildings, offices and housing, to industrial and urban building projects. The word “gatun” comes from an older spelling of the word “street” and gives a hint of the office taking advantage of the street-level perspective. Gatun is currently working on projects such as the Slaughterhouse area in Stockholm, Life City in Hagastaden, a Server hall for Bahnhof, Sthlm New 04 and the outdoor arena Dalhalla in Rättvik.

In Sthlm New, Gatun is involved in both office property and skybar. Picture: Gatun Arkitekter

Internal and external check with BIP filter and Solibri

Two of Gatun's partners are Oskar Scheiwiller, who among other things oversees the company’s IT and Josefin Lindquist, who maintains the office's digitalization strategy. They have noted that customers have different preferences in terms of what they want to receive from the project. It also differs to work in the early stages of projects towards approaching the management phase.

Josefin Lindquist and Oskar Scheiwiller. Picture: Gatun Arkitekter

"It is important to discuss the information level with the client early on in the project to determine what is a useful and realistic level of data for that specific project. It is important to meet the client's goals, and not to aim over or under that level", Josefin Lindquist says.

BIP codes are of course essential to differentiate the variety of elements in the building. And IFC is used to exchange information-carrying models with other disciplines. Of course, some projects are more complex in formation than others. The Dalhalla project is a clear example of form complexity. To understand the relatively complex building site, we used our GPS-controlled drone to produce a precisely placed photo-realistic 3D model of the area. It provided a fantastic opportunity to quickly bring the entire Dalhalla back to the office.

Gatun developed a Reality mesh over the area in the early stages while working on Dalhalla. Picture: Gatun Arkitekter

"We participated in a project together with, among others, Ericsson and BimAlliance to produce BIP codes for BIM models. We tested our way to an optimal "BIP code filter" that sorts the necessary object data, when not all information is relevant, for the shared model. In this way, interesting and relevant values ​​of the objects can be sorted into separate categories", Oskar Scheiwiller says.

"We aim to have all information in one place, in the 3D model. This applies to all Gatun projects, such as Bahnhof's new server hall in Sthlm." Picture: Gatun Arkitekter

It has been apparent that Solibri has penetrated the office so that it is used not only externally towards other consultants for collision control and other factors, but also internally. Co-workers check their own models continuously in Solibri. Gatun chose Solibri for several reasons. One of them being that when compared with other similar products this software could accomplish more, and also because they experienced the software as relatively intuitive and easy to handle.

Danderyd Center is an example of when Solibri helps us with both internal review and external coordination. Picture: Gatun Arkitekter

"Solibri's menu on the left side of the screen makes it easy to work in and easy to understand", Oskar says. It is often Gatun is in charge of the coordination responsibility in the projects and that is also the role that the office prefers to be in.

"At the coordination meetings, taken place on an average of every two weeks, everyone involved collectively studies the model on a large screen and decides what to do in the event of any conflicts. There are no metal hangers with A1 drawings placed on the tables anymore. The knowledge base of all involved consultants is at a high level today. Everyone at the table understands what they see on the screen", Josefin says.

Gatun thinks it is a pity that the 3D model has not yet received the same status as drawings have. But they understand that all parts of the industry must be coordinated in order to be able to forgo drawings in a project. This includes that all involved planners, craftsmen, suppliers and authorities should be able to handle digital information. Today we are producing a model plus an enormous amount of paper documents, which in the future will be considered unnecessary. The transition takes time but we will get there.

Gatun has also defined different object types that have different status, which is valuable when planning in different stages.

"We aim to have all information in one place, in the 3D model. It is a "hub" from which you then can get all the information you want in the form of documents, excel sheets or drawings. Through a control group for work processes and methods, Gatun provides internal training for everyone in this way of thinking with a focus on BIM, 3D plus Solibri. It is important to not only understand how to do it but also why you do it. It is an ongoing quality assurance process. The control group also works with the development of working methods and if something seems promising it is first tested in a project, and if the process works, it is then to be implemented in all projects", Oskar and Josefin conclude.

Many people is familiar with APA

How is it then noticeable that Gatun works in a brewery property? Well, Gatun is namely brewing its own beer, an American Pale Ale called "Architect Pale Ale", which abbreviation is APA. It has, if you ask the Swedish Systembolaget (a government-owned chain of liquor stores), a "Hop aromatic flavour with clear bitter, hints of grapefruit, passion fruit, light bread and fresh herbs". In Systembolaget stores at Södermalm close to the office they are displayed in the store’s shelves, but the APA can also be ordered from other Systembolaget stores.

Picture: Hans Loord

Gatun's beer has also caught some restaurants’ interests. Especially in connection with their projects, it has been a custom for Gatun to bring the beer along. At the last remodelling project of the restaurant "Himlen" and the sky bar on the top floor, the beer was included, which resulted in that it is now possible to order an APA in the “up and running” bar.

In Himlen, Gatun has contributed with both decor and beer. Picture: Gatun Arkitekter

The idea of ​​connecting architects with drinks is of course not unique. The Abbey church in the German village of Weltenburg on the Danube was designed by the Asam brothers in the eighteenth century. A sculpture depicting one of the brothers is placed at the sill of the dome looking down into the church. There is a beer brand that has the image of just that on its label and it is called "Weltenburger Kloster Asam Bock" and is a so-called "double bock beer". But regardless of the fact that Gatun was not the first in the world with an "architect beer", there is now a Swedish one as well.

Gatun, with a new name and its own APA, is heading towards the goal of creating, as they put it, a humane architecture. In the toolbox they have powerful 3D tools, BIM thinking, BIP codes, Solibri and the idea that the entire office must have the equivalent knowledge to offer the same quality in all projects. It is a high ambition. If this writer can get any clue to the design quality after tasting the beer, we can have good confidence that they will succeed.

PS: The fact that the story of the architect as a sculpture in the Abbey church of Weltenburg is completely true can also be confirmed by my own ocular inspection. DS

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About Hans Loord

Hans Loord is an experienced Architect SAR/MSA and a seasoned journalist. He began his CAD journey as early as in 1985 and has worked with several different CAD applications over the years. He has also a keen interest for photography, art, politics, communication, design and then some. 
Hans can often be found on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest or LinkedIn.
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