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Modelling and Planning for a New Build: Teaching & Training Facilities

September 10, 2020

Building new, and modifying existing, campus facilities raises many disparate questions. How do you determine exactly what the requirement is for varying space types? The following details the key role that new modelling, planning, and timetabling software tools can play in this process. It details why this step should be a key stage in modern build projects in an ever more cost-conscious funding environment. In this article we reference a recent build project undertaken in the Middle East, and how the lessons from that project can assist architects, and university build projects more generally.

Construction projects tend to adhere to a set formula depending on type. When building a university, it will adhere to certain specific criteria. I remember some years ago, being at an American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers conference (AACRAO) in the US. One of the delegates was visiting from a former Soviet republic and was attending as a delegate from a new university that was in the process of being built in his homeland. I asked the question, how the requirement for space was established. The reply was somewhat vague. The reason was that no analysis had been undertaken to determine what courses were to be delivered, anticipated student enrolments, growth rates and student demographics. Of course, this may have been an aspirational project. But, for many, the cold hard facts of value for money and return on investment means that any eventual building must be fit for its intended purpose. They must be serviceable for a number of years, able to absorb growth, be flexible but without overbuilding. So how can space modelling and planning software help?

A project undertaken on behalf of New York University in Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), serves as an example. NYUAD had a particular problem. They needed to develop a new campus, but whilst construction was under-way, they had to accommodate curriculum delivery in a limited interim facility. It further became evident that there was a requirement to extend, for an additional 12-month period, the use of the interim facility. Concerns were also raised that with anticipated increases in student numbers, combined with the need to use the interim facility for a further year, would mean that the facility would be insufficient to accommodate this demand. At this point EventMAP was approached to analyse the site, curriculum delivery and both current and anticipated student numbers to ascertain whether they could be accommodated within the interim facility.

How did that project go?

Well, traditional architect methods of calculating space requirement suggested that additional space would be needed, over and above the original concept design at the new build campus. Combine this, with the perception of insufficient space at the temporary site, and NYUAD were looking at considerable additional investment. However, the study undertook within the modelling and planning software tools used by EventMAP, identified that not only was there sufficient capacity to accommodate this demand at the new build,  but also anticipated increases in student numbers within the current interim facility could be accommodated. This could be accomplished without the loss of quality, or curriculum delivery at NYUAD. If you would like to know more, see the NYUAD case study here.

Of course, this isn’t an isolated example of how these new modelling and planning technologies can assist within proposed and ongoing construction projects. One UK policing authority had commissioned a new teaching facility. After engaging our services, we were able to demonstrate with the use of EventMap’s software tools that the space needed for training was greater than required, and that the space profile was not correctly balanced to deliver their curriculum. There were several reasons for this. For example, when defining requirements, people tend to specify what they would ‘ideally like’ from their space, rather than what is required, and people always tend to over-estimate space needs. By analysing historical and current training schedules, and projected growth and changes in delivery, it was possible to model space and then adjust it to closely align with actual needs. The result was improved quality of delivery, and that teaching assets were now being effectively utilised. Even to this day, after that study, the training facility is still delivering against this planned need.

These examples demonstrate the immense value that modelling space against requirement brings to a new build or refurbishment project, even prior to a brick being laid. In fact, in today’s ever-changing environment, one could say it was a critical stage that you should not leave out of any project. It allows planners to cut through the egos that can manifest in potential vanity projects, and removes the human tendency to specify wants as opposed to need, and exaggerated demand. It is a proven scientific approach to determining space requirements. Once the space has been modelled, and a workable plan developed, these tools can be used to manage the ongoing use of that space, to ensure optimal use of space into the future.

For more information on how EventMAP solutions can help your organisation check out our case studies here.

Vernon Chapman


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