DSA Architects International

Posted On 2022-07-22

DSA Architects International Celebrates Continued Success with Autodesk’s Design & Collaboration Solutions.

DSA Architects International are a globally renowned architecture firm who have been delivering exquisite architecture projects for over 35 years in more than 30 countries. Today, DSA Architects International remain a formidable force in this space and are renowned for its award-winning multi-disciplinary design consultancy and management services across the globe. 

In this article, we will look at how DSA have digitally transformed 3 of its projects with the use of Autodesk’s BIM-equipped solutions. The first of these is the Swiss International School in Dubai (SISD). The school is a leading international boarding school, catering to pupils in kindergarten to the 6th level, located in the United Arab Emirates. 

The construction of the school and sports facilities utilised the highest building specifications, materials, and green energy solutions, including unique and innovative Swiss Energy conservation principles. It utilised cutting-edge technology to meet the Swiss Minergie Model, thereby limiting energy consumption by adhering to daylighting and thermal insulation requirements. The building has proudly achieved Minergie Certification and is the first to do so within the Middle East or, in fact, any cooled environment worldwide. This is according to the category of institutional buildings. 

The design and construction were carried out in phases under a design & build procurement model, where Phases 1 and 2 were just 10 months each with efficiencies in design and coordination. The ability to commence site works came with using the design team’s full collaboration of BIM software combined with the materials and construction methodology used.” Peter Davison, Managing Director (Middle East).

Design Challenge:

Designing a building for people to live, work, study, and, ultimately, enjoy is an exciting opportunity for any architect. Yet designing a complex environment where students will learn, grow and shape the future, and their path as individuals is an even bigger opportunity. 

DSA were the design architect and lead consultant for the project, which meant that they were ultimately responsible for all stages of the project and all disciplines, including engineering, landscaping, interior design (from concept design through to fully detailed documentation), site supervision, and, ultimately, handover to their esteemed client (SISD).

Design Solutions:

The innovative use of BIM between all the major contributors in the project and the contractor as a base for the workshop drawings meant that documentation could be developed in 3D from very early on in the process. This factor meant that all project stakeholders were working simultaneously on a single model in a structured and planned manner. This was done through an established and agreed on BIM Execution Plan, devised at the start of the project. 

What this did was enable the team to present the design in 3D from a very early stage of the project. This was advantageous to the client and other stakeholders who were not necessarily versed in deciphering plans and sections. Thus allowing the project team to get input significantly quicker. Potential issues were identified at an early stage, allowing the design team to assess their options and various solutions available to overcome them. A lack of clashes between architecture, structural design, and the MEP proposals allowed the contractor to accelerate the construction program. 

As a result, this was especially true for an average project of this type. All of which were facilitated by the use of a combination of Autodesk solutions; Revit, BIM Collaborate Pro, Navisworks, and 3DS Max.

One of the unique items was that DSA oversaw the design and construction of the first Minergie standard building in the MENA region. In other words, the project boasted novel developments in both the design and build delivery of a low energy consumption-built environment. While the use of cutting-edge collaborative BIM software packages helped achieve a quicker design schedule and a much more efficient process overall.

Combined with the skill, knowledge, and experience of the team, we were able to achieve a massively successful end-product, which is not only fit for purpose, well ordered, highly functional but sets a new benchmark for educational institutions across the region.” – Peter Davison

Another stellar example of BIM implementation from DSA was showcased in Anse La Mouche Resort in Seychelles, where the team at DSA tackled complex topography & Wetland management.  

The project was initiated on Autodesk’s popular AutoCAD package at the concept stage to facilitate the integration of the Initial Pre-concept, Interior and Landscape Designs. Autodesk Revit was the applied package, with all documentation issued and facilitated through Autodesk Docs. The seamless evolution from AutoCAD to Revit allowed the team to integrate building services, structures, and civils with the architectural design at an early stage. Autodesk Docs became the common platform for documentation transfer and sharing for coordination purposes amongst the professionals and client team. 

Design Challenge: 

A significant challenge in this project was having to optimise civil earthworks on protected wetlands. The conservation of these wetlands was critical. We used the modelling software to simulate the various flood scenarios to guide us in the design of the earthworks. Furthermore, as an international project, bringing together international consultants from different regions, and implementing a common data platform was crucial to hosting and sharing project models.

Design Solutions: 

All presentation material and 3DMAX CGI images were extracted from the Revit models. The planning and façade were developed in 3 Dimensions and all changes and amendments were fully understood by the cost management and client teams. The detail design stage, now with the entire project Revit based, brought in the use of Navisworks for client integration and clash detection for MEP and Structural coordination. All of which were conducted remotely. Now in the construction phase, we can furnish the contractor and all sub-consultants with 3D reference models that are available on portable devices that integrate all consultant’s information for quick verification and on-site reference. Although cloud collaboration was not used on this project, the Autodesk Docs platform became a crucial tool when the COVID19 pandemic struck the world, and coordination had to be done from remote locations, sometimes for extended periods.

The third and final project we draw focus on is located in Mozambique, named The Torres Rani Towers. Inspired by the rolling hills and undulating coastline of Mozambique, this project’s complexity and unique demands put Revit, AutoCAD, and Autodesk Docs to the test, from concept design to shop drawing resolution and implementation. 

The Torres Rani Towers are a mixed-use development with two towers comprising; serviced residential apartments and an office tower, supported by retail and conference facilities on the ground floor. It’s a building of unusual form and shape that required the use of a flexible drawing package offering a full bouquet of 3D representation from concept to inception, for which they predominantly used Autodesk Revit. AutoCAD was also used for certain 2D detailing packages which the DSA design team found integrated seamlessly.

Design Challenge: 

Throughout the project, various client changes and requirements demanded specific graphic and production outcomes that reflected the building shape and articulation. The biggest challenge in the design was manipulating the unique oval floor plates to create efficient use of space.

We found Revit’s massing tool able to quickly calculate these areas while maintaining the overall form we wanted to achieve. While in the implementation, we modelled the tapering façade of the office building fenestration to optimize the cost by maintaining an orthogonal module for the unitized glazing.” – Zinon Marinakos, Managing Director (Africa). 

This enabled the team to interrogate the fixing and jointing systems to ensure that they avoided any negative slopes in the junctions of the tapered vertical profile. Marinakos shares that:

“Our design and construction models done in Johannesburg, were handed over to the façade contractor, Martifer, in Maputo, Mozambique who had their Design office in Lisbon interact with SAPA Aluminium systems, in Germany. The brief was to design, manufacture and fabricate a thermally efficient, reliable, and innovative curtain wall system that captures the essence of the design.”

The process allowed the team at DSA to realize and deliver a unique & award-winning building that captured the essence of the clients’ vision and design.

Business benefits:

The real estate market continues to be a highly competitive industry pushing architecture professionals to meet the high demands of the industry. Creating visually stunning, environmentally conscious, and practical spaces is a hard juggle to maintain, especially when your client is sitting in a different time zone, and your design team too. DSA’s adoption and use of Autodesk design solutions enabled the team to foster a strong level of collaboration, mitigating any issues that might arise from working in remote locations. It allowed project stakeholders to bring their level of innovation to the project which was facilitated by the use of Autodesk’s collaboration tools. 

As a result, this positively impacted the overall bottom line of the business. Time saved on the project meant that the team had more time to focus on other factors of the project, including admin. Time saved translated into accelerated workflows, which meant a cost-saving for the client as the projects were delivered on time and within budget, increasing client satisfaction and ensuring a positive return on investment for clients.

Taking all of the projects into consideration, the design challenges, solutions, and an incredible amount of collaboration showcased in each of them. The necessity & benefits of using Autodesk’s BIM and collaborative tools such as Revit, and Autodesk Docs far outweigh the risk of investing in design software. DSA have been able to enjoy these benefits due to not just their trust in technology, but the trust they have in their regional Autodesk Gold Partner, Baker Baynes (Pty) Ltd. 


As a proud technology & digital transformation consultancy, the team at Baker Baynes enjoys sharing these types of customer success stories as it helps them in their advocacy for using technology for infrastructure and human development. Baker Baynes looks forward to continued success, project efficiencies, tangible bottom-line impacts, growth & learning with and from DSA Architects International. 

Contact us to start your journey to success

DSA Architects International

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