Modelling the Lapinlahti Hospital Restoration

Since 2008, the architect office of Lasse Kosunen has been modelling representations of the old Lapinlahti Hospital for a City of Helsinki-commissioned preservation and restoration project. Building Information Modelling (BIM) was utilized throughout the entire process, beginning with a 3D laser scan of the buildings in their current state and ending with comprehensive BIM model that will be archived for property maintenance purposes. The project had many highs and lows; nevertheless, construction is expected to start by 2012.

Founded in 1985, the Architect’s Office of Lasse Kosunen Ltd is based in Tampere and serves the entire country of Finland. Over time the office has become proficient in every kind of architectural design commission. Although strong in the design of new construction, infill development and urban planning, the office has distinguished itself as an expert planner of demanding restoration and repair construction of public buildings. Key clients include the Finnish State (Senate Properties), city and municipal building developers, parishes, institutional developers and construction companies.

The office began actively using version 4.0 of ArchiCAD in 1991. This was preceded by the acquisition of Apple Macintosh computers, a brand still in use today. Other design and documentation software includes standard word processing, spreadsheet, graphic editing and various presentation programs. Visualisation of 3D images at Lasse Kosunen is rendered in Artlantis or directly into ArchiCAD. As the integrity and safety of the model content cannot be checked in ArchiCAD, Solibri Model Checker software was purchased for this purpose. As BIM design expands, the use of ArchiCAD grows more accurate and requirements for program content escalate. Lasse Kosunen Ltd strictly adheres to its own mandate for superior design quality and document maintenance.

Project Background

The Lapinlahti Hospital was the first hospital in Finland to be specially built for mental health care. The Main Building, designed by Carl Ludvig Engel, was completed in 1841. The preservation and restoration project covers five buildings on the property: the Main Building, the Venetian Building, the Therapy House, the Apple Tree House and the Service Building. The structures are all protected under the Finnish Act on the Protection of Buildings. Zoning is also being prepared for the surrounding landscape to conserve and refurbish what is considered a historically-significant park area. The gross area of the buildings in question is some 12,000 m•.

The project is being carried out in close cooperation with the Finnish National Board of Antiquities, which is responsible for final approval of the plans. The cooperation will continue throughout the entire planning and implementation process.

The buildings and the property are owned by the City of Helsinki. The City of Helsinki’s Public Works Department is acting as the building developers of the project. The Helsinki University Central Hospital had earlier been the chief tenant of the buildings, but the majority of the Central Hospital’s activities were transferred to other facilities in 2005, the Main Building continuing to house the Eating Disorder Unit of the Psychiatry Centre until the end of 2008.

New Occupants – Same Function

The new occupants of the restored buildings will be the City of Helsinki Social Services Department. The space will be designed to function primarily as a group home and activity centre for the mentally disabled. This new use will be a natural extension of the previous hospital activities. One of the established objectives is to preserve as much as possible of the original materials, in addition to preservation of the current division of space.

This new use of the building will continue the history of the buildings with changes that are as unobtrusive and inconspicuous as possible. The biggest challenge is adapting the current structures to address the accessibility requirements required by Finnish building authorities, along with other requirements, like modern sprinkler systems and up-to-date building technology. Both the authorities and the future occupants have shown exemplary understanding of the special significance of the building, however. The site is in fact considered highly advantageous for care activities, due to its location and its historical merit. This has made the balancing act between the contemporary building guidelines and historic preservation easier to manage.

Corridors of the main building

Project Planning

A project plan was drawn up in 2008. The Architect’s Office of Leena Yli-Lonttinen was responsible for the architectural design. To support the planning, the Architect’s Office of Koskinen & Schalin Ltd contributed an outstanding historical assessment. Planning of the actual implementation began in August 2008. The City of Helsinki adheres to BIM requirements for buildings owned by the Finnish State and therefore Lapinlahti Hospital planning utilized BIM. All parties participating in the planning contractually agreed to model-based design. Architect Lasse Kosunen was the primary designer of the civil engineering and architectural elements and MEP design engineer Olli Rintamäki assumed chief responsibility for the service elements.

Development of Data Exchange Required

Before design work began, the current condition of the hospital buildings was assessed with laser scanning. The measurement and modelling of these valuable buildings as they are today can be understood as an important historical document in and of itself – not simply a tool for design. The work was commissioned from Tietoa Finland Ltd. The same company used AutoCAD Architecture software to craft 3D inventory models from the point cloud models generated by the laser scanning. The modelling was then delivered to the designers, providing them with a starting point to build on.

Laser scanning point cloud image. Photo: Tietoa Finland Ltd.

At this junction, the divergent nature of the project in terms of its unorthodox solutions became more evident, even from the IT perspective. Buildings dating back to the nineteenth century are considerably more complex in terms of their geometric space than their modern equivalents. Data exchange in the IFC format from the inventory modelling team to the architects was also problematic. The Kosunen office had never taken on this kind of massive data exchange from one architect’s office to another before, at least not one of this scale with such complex buildings. Software variances and IFC file format deficiencies led to struggles of colossal academic proportions on the part of both the modelling team and the team in charge of architectural design. Finally, however, the data was successfully conveyed between the systems.

BIM for Design and Cost Estimates

The design teams have now delivered their project designs to the City of Helsinki’s building control surveyors. The models have been checked and deemed ready for execution, and are awaiting a final decision from the City Council to begin construction work. An interesting development was the City of Helsinki’s choice to use the BIM models as a basis for preliminary project budgeting. The BIM-based cost estimations were performed by the company of Tocoman Ltd, for consideration alongside a more traditional estimation of expenses founded on documentation.

As chief designer, Tietoa Finland Ltd acted as the project’s BIM Coordinator. Several separate meetings took place to thoroughly check the integrity of the models and assess their content. The need for absolute accuracy and thorough data content were identified as essential for proper expense and project cost estimation and were therefore emphasized accordingly.

Where to limit the scope of BIM content was a point of contention. The restoration design contained a great deal of project content that was left out of the BIM models for reasons of expediency. Detailed descriptions and commercial papers are important documents in BIM-based cost estimation as well. Communication between the persons performing the cost estimation and the designers is paramount.

From Inventory Planning to Implementation

In early 2010 the project received a building permit and official permission to begin work. This was followed by efforts to match the BIM models with project cost estimation content, so designers could focus on the more specific documents associated with inventory planning. At this stage the BIM models were checked once again and made as accurate as possible. Impact assessments were also highlighted, as solutions made at this stage would have a direct effect on implementation.

The BIM models were delivered to the building developers as supplementary material to the traditional documents required. In addition, the project generated virtual modelling spaces that were rendered as accurately as possible so as to depict the final result as well as possible to the end users and commissioning parties, but also to enable optimal final decisions about space-specific structure and MEP solutions.

Preliminary timetables indicate that construction will begin sometime in 2012 and will be completed in two year’s time.

Therapy House

BIM in Restoration Work

BIM has changed the design of preservation and restoration projects, making them primarily front-loaded. One year was reserved for the design work of this project, allowing enough time for the buildings to become very familiar − with due consideration for their special attributes and character. Most of the design took place on site, returning to the office to document that which had been decided on.

The commissioning party will develop operative methods to benefit from the models of its buildings even further. The preservation and restoration of the Lapinlahti Hospital will function as a historically-valuable pilot project in this regard as well. At the very least, the models will be used as a tool for property maintenance. Time will tell how smoothly it will take place in terms of data exchange.

This article was published in the 2/2011 issue of ArchiMAG. Subscribe ArchiMAG now to read the latest articles.

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