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PLANNING Systems Services Ltd (PLANNING), is an all-round master planning and architectural firm with firm roots in its country. With a large portfolio of construction and modernisation projects under its belt, the firm is currently finishing an 80,000sm retail expansion project for one of Nairobi’s oldest retail centres. This is a major project that required a team from around the world to work together using Autodesk’s suite of design and planning tools.
For an architectural firm that has been in business for over 40 years, PLANNING has done every type of project imaginable, from tall commercial buildings to bush lodges. This firm also dedicates a lot time to master planning and is often developing new estates and communities.
With roots in Kenya’s architecture industry dating back to the late 1920’s PLANNING is now a digital powerhouse that coordinates with teams around the world. “A feat that would not have been possible without Autodesk’s powerful collaboration and visualisation tool set,” says Henry Musangi, Architect and Director of Design at PLANNING Kenya.
“My big drive over the last 9 years has been to implement new digital design tools with our IT department and lead the mission around how and why we design projects,” says Musangi. Today the firm has 60 employees with 40 in-house architects, technicians and project managers.
In this fast pace digital world, one of the biggest challenges that PLANNING Kenya is facing is the expectations of their clients. In their market, most of their clients are not sophisticated institutional developers but rather private individuals who have big dreams for a project and even bigger expectations on a tight deadline.
“Even though our clients are often expecting near impossible turnaround times, we decided not to be dismissive but rather find more agile and efficient ways of delivering and communicating visuals and simulations,” says Musangi.
While clients are demanding faster turnaround times, Musangi says that finding experienced architects can be difficult and they often must develop and train their own with the necessary expertise required. Graduates generally have an awareness of 3D form and space, but they need experience on construction. “With Revit they get to think like a contractor and be aware of bricks and mortar, beams and slabs.”
Autodesk’s software suite enables the team at PLANNING Kenya to design faster while allowing them to present their clients with accurate renders and simulations, so they understand the spaces and the forms much better, early in the project.
“We can test-out, scope, visualise, quantify and co-ordinate all from within the Autodesk platform. This allows us to deliver our projects much faster than ever before,” says Musangi. “It has been a major win for us and our clients.”
For new recruits, the firm has a fast-paced 2-week orientation on the company’s IT systems, software and file standards. While most young people today don’t know much about 2d design, Musangi says that almost all new graduates are very familiar with 3D environments.
“If they’ve not been exposed to Revit, they’ve at least been exposed to rudimentary modelling at school. If they don’t know Revit, we onboard them quickly and from there they learn on the job.”
The two major projects that PLANNING Kenya is wrapping up this year are a large retail centre in Nairobi called the Sarit Centre and a new headquarters for a Kenyan bank in Rwanda. The retail centre is actually an expansion of one of the oldest shopping malls in Nairobi and PLANNING Kenya will be doing a full modernisation along with an expansion that will ultimately triple the centre’s size.
The construction area of expansion is 80,000sm while the refurbished area totals 37,000sm. It took PLANNING Kenya 6 months to undertake developed design and another 6 months doing Production Drawings. The team made use of Revit and Navisworks with a team of 5 architectural staff.
Impressively, just under 50 clashes were averted when they first imported their drawings into Navisworks. “With a project consisting of over 300 drawing sheets, the time savings alone were massive for us on this project.” Says Musangi
“Even though our clients are often expecting near impossible turnaround times, we decided not to be dismissive but rather find more agile and efficient ways of delivering and communicating visuals and simulations. Autodesk has allowed us to deliver on that.”
— Henry Musangi, Architect and Director of Design at PLANNING Systems Services Ltd.
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