Pioneering and saving costs at the same time


Caxias do Sul, a Brazilian town in the state of Rio Grande do Sul with about 400,000 inhabitants, is rapidly expanding and internationalizing. The city is the second largest center of the metal mechanic sector in the country. Located near the city center is the Unimed Hospital. It is currently undergoing an expansion process. At the moment the hospital occupies 12,000 square meters of built area, the new building area will be 32,000 square meters in a nine-story tower, with a conventional reinforced concrete structure.

Text: Luciana Tamaki

The project

The children and maternal department will be housed in the new hospital building, including a new outpatient surgery center and the centralization of services such as preventive medicine, occupational heath, first aid, home care and sustainability management. The basement will have three floors with parking and technical areas. The ninth floor will be the central location for  the thermal power plant with a capacity of 4.21 MW (1,200 RT) for cooling and 2.32 MW for heating.

The thermal power plant located centrally on the ninth storey.

The company "Lúcia Lisboa Arquitetura Médico Hospitalar", located in Porto Alegre and specialized in the medical care segment, is responsible for the architectural design of this project. The consultant is Geconsul Engenharia e Consultoria, a project management company from Caxias do Sul. They are responsible for the administration and management of the project. The total work is estimated to be three years, which began in the first half of 2015. The first phase should be completed in January 2019.

Using BIM for design optimization

The architectural design was made in 2D using a traditional CAD program. However, the HVAC design and consulting company, Artecnica, took the initiative to model the building in BIM with the aim to optimize their project deliverables and improve their efficiency throughout the project's design phase. The director of Artecnica, Anderson Rodrigues says it took less than two weeks to model the complete building in DDS-CAD, after which we started to incorporate the design of the MEP systems such as air conditioning, hot and cold water, ventilation, automation etc.


Throughout the initial modeling phase, Rodrigues' team proved to be real pioneers. Despite that their software DDS-CAD is fully Open BIM certified, they still had to create additional content on top of the comprehensive product database that the software offers. Data Design System (DDS), the developer of the MEP design software DDS-CAD is currently in the process of penetrating the Brazilian market and Rodrigues' team assisted them in creating the products that were not yet available. "We are among the first users of DDS-CAD in Brazil," says Rodrigues.

"My people had some difficulty in finding, for example, a correct air diffuser product. By default DDS-CAD offers a wide range of products, however, some were not directly suitable for the Brazilian market. As a result, we decided to model and dimension the required air diffusers, using the product data from the German manufacturer present in Brazil, as well as the hospital's air handling units supplied by a US manufacturer. We made the design, specification, and finally, the modeling of the equipment that would be used in the design. "

At this stage, all elements modeled by the team of Artecnica are available in the product database of DDS-CAD. "Yes, we paid a price for being one of the first, but the cost savings and the return for us are huge. Because, if you need to make any changes to your project, it is done in a few mouse clicks. In a traditional 2D workflow this would take us several hours of work", says Rodrigues

Hospital quality

In hospital projects, one of the great differentials and biggest challenges are the so-called hazardous areas where there is absolute air filtration, that is, significant volumes of clean air are required to maintain and assure the environmental quality and patient safety. The Brazilian norm for air conditioning in medical care centers NBR 7256 and the National Agency for Sanitary Surveillance (Anvisa) define what those environment restrictions are and the criteria that needs to be fulfilled. Artecnica  modeled all these areas with DDS-CAD for dimensioning and analyzing the mechanical installations.

To meet the air quality requirements, various functions are associated with the air handling systems, such as heating, cooling, humidification, renewal, filtering, ventilation and dehumidification. The systems can also include other features, such as the pressurized air within a given space.

These systems occupy large spaces in the hospital, which are not always available or proportionately expensive per square meter. "With the use of DDS-CAD we can allocate equipment and precisely define the need for these facilities", says Rodrigues.

Another critical place in hospitals are the surgery rooms. Rodrigues states that "with the use of DDS-CAD, we can see all interference that may collide with each other, such as the installation of laminar flow diffusers near the operating table, the exact routing of the ducts, and the minimal required area that the air handling unit will occupy in the technical room."

Laminar flow diffusers near the operating table

MEP software selection

The choice of DDS-CAD for Artecnica was made after three years of research. The company had been looking for a program to work on BIM projects. They attended several seminars and conferences held by suppliers of software for the AEC market. "We decided we did not need an architecture software that provided some MEP functionalities. What we needed was a native MEP software, specifically developed for MEP engineers. DDS-CAD definitely covers this, it is a MEP software that even allows you to also do a bit of architecture. It is software that is tailored to our purpose and workflows. Most other ones look nice at first sight, but it would be like buying perfume", explains Rodrigues.

In relation to possible performance issues, Artecnica  saw an additional advantages in using DDS-CAD. "If the architectural software has features and plug-ins for modeling, for example, masonry, doors, frames and finishes that meet the architect and its requirements, it is also included in the software price and will have an additional effect on hardware performance of our workstations, "says Rodrigues.

DDS-CAD, on the other hand, runs on more conventional workstations that are in use at most engineering offices and has lighter hardware requirements compared to other MEP software packages available on the market. Rodrigues says, "If we had chosen another software, we would have had to renew our hardware as well, which was something that we did not want to do. Right now, DDS-CAD is fully embedded and running smoothly in our existing IT environment".

Liquid coolers located in the thermal center.

Project info
Client: Unimed Nordeste-RS
Architect: Lúcia Lisboa Arquitetura Médico Hospitalar
Project management: Geconsul Engenharia e Consultoria
MEP consultant: Artecnica
Construction period: 1st half 2015 – January 2019

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