[ASC-media] Does your new office or house design comply? DesignCheck will tell you

sarah at scienceinpublic.com sarah at scienceinpublic.com
Tue May 3 22:57:10 EST 2005

Australia's building codes exist to protect the community. But the codes are
many and complex and non-compliance can be expensive. 

For one high-residential building the wrong answer cost $5 million in design
and construction changes.  

For house builders getting the details right can mean many visits to the
local council to negotiate approval.

Dr Lan Ding has the solution - an automated design checking system -
DesignCheck - that quickly assesses if a building design meets the
requirements of Australia's new building disabled access code.

The system was developed by Lan, and a team of Sydney and Melbourne
researchers from the Cooperative Research Centre for Construction
Innovation. It's the first step towards a comprehensive program that would
cover all of Australia's diverse building codes.  

 "We've been waiting for thirty years for someone to do this. Lan has both
turned the codes into a readable format and then automated the checking
process. It's a stunning achievement that could dramatically streamline the
building design process," says Moshe Gilvitz, Director of Victoria's
Building Commission. 

"The DesignCheck software tool assesses building designs against complex
building codes. Through early identification of potential problems, the
software overcomes inefficiencies in code compliance checking by reducing
both time and cost," said Dr Keith Hampson, of the Construction Innovation

"DesignCheck checks sketch designs, detailed designs and specifications,"
Lan says. "For example, when designers load a sketch design file into
DesignCheck, it allows a path of travel to be checked against accessibility
by the disabled." 

"When a detailed design is loaded, door type, door width, handrail height
etc. can be checked. If designers would like to check more details such as
fittings in a disabled toilet, they can be checked through specifications."

"Recently a shopping centre found that it didn't comply with the requirement
that the travel distance to a choice of the points to exit should be equal
or less than 20 meters. Finding solutions was expensive," Lan says.

According to David Marchant, IT Manager for international architects Woods
Bagot, "The tool will benefit designers as it enables us to analyse a
virtual model. We can check our code requirements at different stages of the
design right up to when we hand it over to the client. They then have the
same opportunity during ongoing use and maintenance of the building in being
able to check how various changes to the design interact with the codes."

Building designers are not the only professionals likely to benefit from
DesignCheck. It will also be useful to building certifiers, consultants,
building code authorities and specification writers, and could smooth the
way for everyone involved in complex building projects - from office blocks
to home extensions. 

Partners collaborating in the development of DesignCheck are: CSIRO, The
University of Sydney, Building Commission (Victoria), Woods Bagot and
Australian Building Codes Board.

For further information contact Dr Lan Ding on (02) 9490 5457 / 0413 268 584
or email lan.ding at csiro.au and visit www.freshinnovators.org for images.

Media contacts for Fresh Innovators: Niall Byrne (03) 5253 1391 and Sarah
Brooker 0413 332 489

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