Local architects deliver energy centre entirely in BIM

A new £8m landmark energy centre, which will supply low-cost power to homes and businesses across Gateshead, becomes the first of its kind in the north east after being delivered entirely in BIM by a local architect.

Ryton-based Gradon Architecture worked on the technical delivery of the energy centre on behalf of Gateshead Council, delivering the project entirely in BIM. BIM, or Building Information Modelling, technology is currently at the forefront of construction, with all public funded projects now requiring delivery to a BIM Level 2 standard.

The low carbon Gateshead Energy Centre on Quarryfield Road is the first of its kind and scale in the North East, and aims to reduce emissions and pass on significant energy savings directly to customers.

The centre will supply high-profile buildings such as the Sage Gateshead and Gateshead College with electricity and heat, while any surplus energy generated will be sold on to the National Grid.

BIM allows multiple partners in the construction industry to collaborate, allowing the clients, architects and contractors to seamlessly work together on the project; reducing costs, providing a higher level of efficiency and capturing clashes during the design stages prior to the project reaching site.

The bright pink louvers encasing the exterior of the building mark the final eye-catching touch to the ‘energy box’, which includes an industry leading energy recovery system whereby waste heat created from generating electricity is used to warm water for the site.

Gradon Architecture’s Graeme Kirkley, who worked on the design of the site, said:

“As a Gateshead-based architecture practice, we’re thrilled to have had the opportunity to work on a project that will be integral to the future development of the town.

“It’s been fantastic to bring our brand of bespoke architecture to a building that is not only highly innovative in terms of its function but could well become a Gateshead landmark itself, along with the buildings it serves.

“While the designs might look simple from the outside, the site houses hugely complicated equipment and the project posed a number of complex and unique challenges, including a web of cables and pipes. The bespoke project involved multiple separate contractors responsible for building the structure, supplying the technical equipment inside and connecting it to the wider network.”

Graeme added:

“The project had so many complexities that it would have been very difficult to deliver without BIM. The inner features of the building required BIM to flag up any potential clashes in the framework at an early stage in the design process – vital for such a high-spec project.”

The Gateshead Energy Centre project has been led by Gateshead Council as part of a scheme to pass on energy savings to businesses and residents and in doing so attract new companies to the region.

Graham McDarby, Design Director and founder of Gradon Architecure, said:

“As a practice we have invested in and fully embrace BIM as an innovative way of working which enables large scale projects such as the Gateshead Energy Centre to be co-ordinated much more efficiently and delivered to the highest quality standards.

“Our work on the Gateshead Energy Centre builds on another project we’ve recently completed in BIM, including the detailed façade design for the Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics at Durham University.”

Civil engineers CK21, building services engineers Desco and construction firm Balfour Beatty were also involved in the completion of the project.