THE FIRM – Mumbai
Since its inception in 1999, THE FIRM has been engaged in offering the core design services including architecture, interior design, urban and landscape planning. Since 2002, the practice also provides specialized services to media facilities, in association with RA, London, as a separate focus. THE FIRM is headquartered at Mumbai while it has recently got its first international office at UK.
Caring for spiritual needs of the people and sustainability are considered intrinsic to good design at the practice. Our notable multi-category projects in India include Skywalks, Signature tower, Kingdom Mall & Trinity World School, YRF Studios, Prime Focus facilities and selective media facilities at Doha Qatar, Moscow, London, Israel and Istanbul.
Transition to BIM
The transition from AutoCAD to BIM was a serious concern in the beginning year 2005. The practice believed in the incredibility of the software from day one but the time-factor involved for the same was critical. But by mid 2006, the studio was exceptionally using Revit for all the projects; credits to the dedicated studio project team leads. We also get our high-quality images for media marketing rendered in Autodesk 3ds Max, based on the fbx files exported from Revit Architecture.
Now, THE FIRM also uses Autodesk Navisworks for presentations, walkthroughs, design sharing and communications.
The role of Genesis Datacomp:
The practice was fortunate to get a highly-committed team from ‘Genesis’, the Autodesk reseller; to conduct the implementation program for the studio team. It was their unfailing support that the project team leads could sustain the restless times during the ‘learn & do’ days.
Notable Revit BIM Projects
Signature Tower, Navi Mumbai, India
Area: 1.5 lac square feet
The Signature Tower at Mumbai is a mixed-use high-rise commercial building comprising of offices on the upper floors and the retail shopping activity occupies the basement and two lower floors. The ancillary program includes multi-level parking and fine-dine restaurants and a gym. The iconic sail form of the building signifies the local context in past and its futuristic bend in present context. The salient features of the design include column-free spaces for all levels, the iconic high performance facade offering views and natural light into the office floors and the exclusive roof-top office with the helipad.
The form-centric design was conceptualised for the project and it appealed instantaneously to the clients. Various options were considered in pre-design stage and the design was finalised on the basis of concept and better energy performance vis-à-vis orientation and form. For this, the massing tools of Revit were extensively exploited. The visualisation of the curve building façade which was reducing in plan on going higher was done at various stages, till the time the satisfactory outcome was not achieved. The iterative analysis of the form on the basis of floor space index and the saleable areas by the developers’ perspective was made easier and hence less time-consuming with Revit Schedules. The team is currently trying if the unique façade grid could be made parametric so as to accommodate change if the higher FSI is approved by the development control authorities.
The structural consultant and MEP consultants are sharing the information from the BIM model in the form of 3d drawing files, to bring out the integrated design in services and structures.
Orchid Villas, 80 bungalows Semi-detached Row Scheme, Mumbai, India
Area: 4000 square feet per each Orchid Villa
Normally, one expects villas to be sprawled on an expansive site; but the challenge was to meet the same luxurious building program of 4 bedrooms, living areas, temple, pool, gym and garden spaces; with a comparatively much smaller footprint. Externally the design of each villa is an upfront blunt cube jutting out from the other straight lines of geometry at different planes, contrasted by glass & multi-level green decks. The look is clean and contemporary and exudes a light and sleek feel.
Semi-covered green decks create spaces to unwind while minimising solar heat gain. The staircase well defined by full height glazing with intermediate ventilators, acts as an atrium to optimise natural ventilation and lighting. Other measures for the energy-conscious design include the use of energy-saving blocks for the envelope, water conservation, on-site renewable energy generation, specification of green materials for floors, ceilings, windows and furniture.
The conceptual stage presentation of the project could be worked upon, to proceed with the next stages of design, which was never a case in 2D pre-design. The 3d model played an instrumental role in detail design and visualisation. The analysis for green materials and systems including the cost-evaluations is being based on the schedules and quantities which could be extracted from the resourceful building model. Working with design options, the project team was able to get comparative figures and base their analysis on the same. The amalgamation of the single villa model on all plots of the villa-scheme was achieved in lesser time, due to ease in drafting and use of ‘link the files’ feature. Communication of intent to building contractors by means of quality construction documents including innumerable captured 3d images, sections and elevations was lot more efficient than the regular 2d construction documents.
Trinity World School, Mumbai, India
Area: 1.2 lac square feet
One of the earliest projects to get the Revit opportunity was the Trinity World School, which was prestigious in the sense that it had to be exemplary in terms of not only its facilities but also its level of design. The above one lakh square feet of area includes learning spaces for children from kindergarten to high school, as well as the junior college of arts, science and commerce, and the state-of-the-art auditorium, other than many activity zones.
The design of the educational architecture focused on creating the ideal environment for learning, hence the spatial relationships, indoor-outdoor relationships, natural ventilation and daylight studies, the design of hub-of-activity areas and so on, were all so very important to be studied in detail. It meant a great deal to be able to visit each and every nook and corner of the school, rather than having only limited number of external and internal views.
The school project had seen tough time to get the budget sanctioned; hence the parametric strength of Revit was useful for churning out cost evaluations, feasibility studies based on different options for different materials and systems.
The numerous solar studies at various important sections and courtyard views were being synthesized to improvise the design. This implied potential changes and Revit BIM enabled the design team to do so.
‘The ability to place the camera virtually at any place in the model and get the particular view is, so far, the most revolutionary design tool to possess;’ says Sundeep Gwash (Principal, Head- Design & Technology, THE FIRM)