The new university hospital at Aalborg in Demark is huge, equivalent in size to about 24 football pitches. It has been designed to be as flexible as possible to accommodate the latest medical techniques and equipment, while meeting challenging construction deadlines.

The new hospital, funded by the government, followed an investment programme so deadlines had to be met to avoid finances being withdrawn. Timing was critical and construction for foundations needed to start at an unusually early stage. Flexibility was important to ensure state-of-the-art equipment could be selected close to the opening, rather than limiting possibilities by specifying needs at an earlier stage. Put together, these three elements of size, timing and flexibility, created a challenge for Royal HaskoningDHV’s structural design team.

Design concept closely followed to ensure final success

Good communication with our client and partners is a key feature of any project, but here it was particularly vital for keeping the schedule on track and avoiding delays or misunderstandings. To assist and ensure maximum adaptation to local circumstances, members of our dedicated team based in Denmark for the project chose to learn Danish.

Another element contributing to success was a single-minded commitment to the design concept and principles. We began the project by exploring and assessing alternative concepts across parameters such as cost, quality, time, flexibility and sustainability. In this case, time and flexibility were key and, having chosen the concept, no deviations were considered as we knew our approach guaranteed the time schedule and required flexibility.

Efficient working methods kept project on schedule

Building Information Modelling (BIM) was also important. In 2013 when we started the designs, the use of BIM across the industry was not common. Legislation in Denmark required that the work should be modelled in 3D and connect to the programme of requirements via a database. We went one step further and used the 3D model to link to quantity and cost calculations – which is now standard working practice. For this project, by pushing forward digital connections and calculations, we saved time when changes and alterations needed to be made.

We delivered the tender design within 18 months and six months later construction started on the foundations – an extremely fast timescale for a building of this size.

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