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Interview with Marcel Holmberg, Partner at PWD Architecture


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Marcel will be speaking at the upcoming Building and Construction Excellence Forum in Mumbai, India on the 1st and 2nd of February 2016.

Here, we get to speak to him on his thought on the building and construction industry.

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Interview with Marcel Holmberg, Partner at PWD Architecture

  1. 1. The real estate sector, an inherent component of the construction industry, is ex- pected to touch US$180 billion by 2020 in India. Despite the rapid growth in the mar- ket, developers and construction companies are constantly challenged to deliver suc- cessful projects with tight budgets and accelerated schedules. Ahead of the Building & Construction Excellence Forum, we spoke to Marcel Holm- berg, Partner at PWD Architectural, China on his thoughts on the evolution of the building and construction industry. Marcel, an ICA registered architect in Chile & RIBA chartered architect in the United Kingdom is a speaker at the marcus evans forum taking place in Hyatt Regency Mumbai, India on the 1st & 2nd February 2016. What changes have you seen in the building and construction industry over the last 12 months? The latest trends in software have allowed architects to create and visualize more and more complex designs; simulta- neously the construction industry has needed to use new technologies to comply with the current design needs. All this added to the extremely tight work schedules that rapid growing economies are creating has resulted in the need of highly efficient and innovative software that can coordinate and synchronize many layers of information early on, this way optimizing the building design, here is when BIM technologies come in. What I have experienced this past year is that there is a much higher need to use this BIM technologies and a much higher demand from the client’s side. I have seen that some design offices are not even considered fit for work if they cannot operate this software and that is worrying for many. This tendency makes me believe 2D software will soon be classified obsolete, similar to when hand drawn plans one day were considered inefficient against 2D CAD drawings. Please talk us through innovative technology/technologies being adopted by builders. One of the most complex stages in a design & construction process is translating the building conceptual design into technical construction drawings. They are the main tool for the construction phase. Nowadays it seems there is no time to wait for someone to finish a 2D drawing not even measure something or do a rendered image to visualize a space. That’s why producing technical drawings in short times can be a difficult process. Particularly when the geometry of the building is far too complex to draw by simple 2D geometry software. This is why there are a large number of emerging software and/or systems that facilitate this process and at the same time are evolving to have a user- friendly interface for all parties. CATIA (Computer Aided Three-dimensional Interactive Application), started out as an aircraft design tool consists of 3D scanning a physical model and using this information to have a precise digital 3D model. This method is now is being used to digitalize geometries of buildings and objects that are too intricate and cannot be measured any other way. Another growing tendency, as I mentioned before is BIM (Building information modeling) this software typology com- bines 2D and 3D information in one platform, includes numerical and textual data into one file that can be shared with different consultants and worked on simultaneously by a team. This reduces 2D drafting times and 3D modeling drastically, shows us problems in 3D in a way and time that previously wasn’t possible, optimizing work for consult- ants and allowing the project to streamline after conceptual design plans are finished. 1
  2. 2. What do you think are the emerging trends and developments in the construction industry? I have always had a certain contradictory feelings about “ emerging trends” of any kind. On one side I find myself to be a ‘geek’ when it comes to technology of any kind and I admit I get quite excited when I see the new possibilities available out there. Technology experts are doing a great job to make our everyday work tasks more efficient and seamless. We have to realize that technology plays a huge roll in everyone’s life whether we want it or not. On the contrary, I sometimes feel nostalgic when I see classic design and construction methods that had a bit more ‘character’ being forgotten as everyone focuses on new ‘fancy’ trends. As for the current emerging trends, I think its all going to be computer aided BIM technologies from now on, many offices worldwide have already stopped using 2D CAD software altogether. For me these technologies have already rooted in the construction and design process and will be evolving to even more sophisticated software. Aiming to use one platform able to hold as much information from different specialties as it can, we have to realize it’s no longer an emerging trend, its part of everyday work life. The new fascinating trends we will be looking at are contem- plating the use of robotics on site. Already robots are able to build simple structures and will soon be able to com- plete whole buildings by themselves, there are also drones involved as an every day tool, helping professionals in diverse ways. It seems that the future holds many new tech gadgets that will impress us all. We, as building and de- sign professionals, should be informed of what is going on out there. What has been the most exciting project you’ve worked on and why? There have been many exciting projects in my life and I keep getting equally excited to the day. Its particularly exciting when I get to design something that I never had the chance before. I remember all my projects like they are part of my family; first time I designed a house, a high-rise, a museum and many others. I am given the opportunity to learn so much about so many different and complex programs, planning and investigating how to best design them is very exciting for me, specially when its something not many people get to work on. For example, I had the luck to partici- pate in a 60.000m2 mixed use building that will soon be a major auction house for all Asia. The program contem- plates a five star hotel, museum and offices, the complexity of the program made the design so much more interest- ing. On the other hand, if we talk about much smaller scaled projects I am now designing a 30m2 wine cellar for an embassy in Beijing and I feel it’s incredible to design a small space in so much detail. I have been very lucky in my career and feel I have always been involved in extremely interesting and exciting projects. What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the construction industry? What are the solutions? Similar to the title of this conference, efficiency and quality are a major problem in the construction industry, espe- cially when combined with high speeds and short schedules. At the same time many projects are being designed us- ing sophisticated software and parametric tools that create complex geometries. This is when the building suffers, when unfortunately the construction or design company doesn’t have the experience to build such complex projects. It is a huge mistake from the designer that does not realize who and where the building will be constructed, and it’s also a mistake from the construction area that underestimates the difficulties presented and think they will somehow ‘figure it out’ without actually updating their knowledgebase to fit the requirements of the design. That’s why being informed on the current technology is crucial and if something is beyond our knowledge it’s easy to consult other professionals so we can do the job right. In our industry there are experts for everything, we just need to be correctly advised and learn maybe next time we do it ourselves in a correct manner. Time is money and there is no time for mistakes. 2
  3. 3. Where do you see the biggest opportunities for the construction industry today in India? What does the future hold for this industry in India? India is full of highly intelligent and competent professionals that will soon enter a phase where they are responsible of leading the world’s technological advances on many different areas of expertise. Everything will be booming and with that comes the infrastructure to support it. It is crucial for India to have quality cities that correspond to the level of production and ideas that the country will be producing. Its easy to get a bad reputation of ‘bad quality’ or ‘cheap’ products, but also very easy to prevent it. After and during this process India will be the focus of the whole world and cities will grow and change at great speeds, we should all fight for good planning and excellent quality work. These will be the cities of tomorrow and the cities the next generations will live in and will serve as an example for everyone. We really must fully take advantage of this opportunity. About the event: 2 marcus evans Building and Construction Excellence Fo- rum is a gathering by some of the most successful speak- ers from the globe and India, bringing in innovation and col- laboration to the industry for you to achieve the best com- mercial outcomes and customer satisfaction. At this forum, you will explore future business opportunities and industry trends, hear best practices on project design, planning, control and monitoring, tackle the talent and material short- ages, and implement risk framework at every stage of the process. If you are striving for excellence in your construc- tion projects, this is the event you cannot afford to miss! For more information on this event, please contact Sharon Chew at