Using Technology To Drive The Design Process


02 min. reading time

The use of CAD (computer-aided design) is commonplace in the design of stadiums. It is important for stadium projects to utilise the digital technology, workflows and software packages that are available to enable the project to progress in the most efficient and collaborative manner.

Embracing a digital design process provides multiple benefits to a stadium’s development team, including the design team, the client, the contractor and the stadium operator. The digital workflow allows interaction and engagement with external stakeholders, interested parties and supporters alike.

Building information modelling (BIM) is widely used in designing and delivering stadiums across the world. BIM is a design approach that relies on cooperation between the design team and appointed specialists to ensure that the planning, design and construction of buildings is fully integrated. Further benefits of BIM can be enjoyed once the stadium is completed by using the model and information produced by the design team to inform operational, maintenance and asset management procedures.

Applying a digital approach to the design of a stadium, regardless of its size, will increase the level of accuracy across all design stages. Global standards, such as ISO 19650, provide a framework that enables consistency and can promote cross-discipline and cross-border understanding. This will assist the design, construction and development teams to progress with fewer errors that could require costly resolution.


Each stadium project varies in size and complexity, and applying the appropriate level of BIM utilisation is crucial from the very start of a project. To do this, the project and design teams require an understanding of the different levels of BIM maturity prior to commencing the design work.

Figure 2.1.1
Levels of BIM maturity

At the most basic level, BIM Level 0 (Low Collaboration) uses conventional two-dimensional (2D) drafting to produce the design.

BIM Level 1 (Partial Collaboration) usually involves a combination of three-dimensional (3D) CAD for concept work and 2D for drafting for statutory approval documentation and preparing production information.

BIM Level 2 (Full Collaboration) offers collaborative working between all consultants with individual 3D models produced by each design discipline, which are then assembled to form a “federated” model prior to the issue of information for tender and construction.

BIM Level 3 (Full Integration) uses a fully integrated single model, stored in a database accessible by all of the design team consultants.

This single model will allow data to be used for construction, fabrication and facility management purposes. This can enable open collaboration with the stadium operations team and facilitate building lifecycle management.

The name, requirements and deliverables for the different design stages of a stadium project can vary to some degree in different parts of the world.

The various design phases are generally classed as Brief, Concept, Definition, Design, Construction, Handover and Operation, and as the project advances, the amount of information produced and level of detail increases. Using BIM to deliver the stadium design will require agreement right at the very start of the project on the various levels of information (LOI) needed during each design stage. This agreement is usually captured as a Model Production and Delivery Table (MPDT) or similar document by the key consultants within the design team.

For smaller stadiums, the use of CAD during the design stages is desirable with a recommended BIM maturity of Level 1.

For larger, more complex stadiums, a higher level of BIM utilisation should be implemented, with a recommended BIM maturity of Level 2 or Level 3.

Further dimensions can be incorporated into the BIM environment of a stadium project. 4D BIM (Construction Sequencing) integrates time into the model and links directly to the stadium’s construction programme. 5D BIM (Costs) adds project cost data to the physical elements modelled. 6D BIM (Project Lifecycle Information) can be used to assess the whole life cost of a stadium, focusing on the operational and maintenance costs of each component within the stadium. This would require input and knowledge from the stadium operations team.

Using BIM to visualise a stadium before completion

In addition to the use of BIM in the project design and construction phases, other digital tools can be considered to showcase the design. This may involve graphic visualisations, animations or images that can be viewed using augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) or mixed reality (MR).

These tools can allow supporters to visualise the view from various seats in the stadium before the stadium is complete, or to allow a hospitality customer to visualise a suite or restaurant. This, in turn, can facilitate the advance sale of tickets and hospitality before the stadium opens.

Other digital tools can be used to validate design proposals. For example, the use of dynamic crowd simulation can demonstrate spectator flows around a stadium and highlight any potential issues that need to be addressed at the design stage.