As an all-round engineering office for Construction, Industry & Infrastructure, Macobo offers a comprehensive package of coordinated engineering services to project developers and architects. Founded in 2008 by Ing. Davy Macquoi and organically grown from customer needs, Macobo currently employs about 50 specialized staff who support the further expansion of this ambitious engineering office from Tessenderlo (Belgium) and Dubai.
Improving our agility as an engineering team
As Macobo’s Structural Design team leader, ing. Liesbeth Torfs is closely involved in highly diverse projects. She’s more than happy to comment on some of the recent and current projects that her team has worked on. "Crematorium Stuifduin (Lommel, Belgium) is a beautiful example of a challenging project in which all partners (including a2o architecten, Groep Vanhout and Macobo) collaborate intensively on a central BIM model", according to Liesbeth Torfs.
"But the structural design of this building is quite a challenge as well," Liesbeth continues. "Fortunately, the advanced 3D structural design analysis capabilities of BuildSoft's Diamonds software have come in extremely handy. Starting from a 3D model of the entire concrete structure, including foundations, Diamonds has enabled us to come up with a practical reinforcement plan in a very short time. The ability to define reinforcement nets for slabs and walls is a convenient feature that significantly increases our productivity. It does not only visualize where additional reinforcement is required to achieve a good design, but it also informs us on the amount of additional reinforcement that is needed locally.
The considerable spans and cantilevers that are typical for projects such as Crematorium Stuifduin, primarily impose special requirements related to maximum deformations of the building structure. That's why Diamonds' capability to calculate cracked deformations of concrete elements, while considering the effective amount of reinforcement, has become part of our standard design procedure for concrete building structures. Our experience shows that in this way we can deliver a quality structural design that satisfies all building requirements in an economically sound manner.
Calculation times are also a definite plus of Diamonds. Because Diamonds allows us to recalculate a structural design in just a matter of minutes, we firmly improve our agility as an engineering team. Much more than in the past, we are involved in the design process from the early stages – getting more opportunities to deliver input."
Considerable spans and cantilevers primarily impose special requirements related to maximum deformations of the building structure. Diamonds’ capability to realistically calculate cracked deformations of concrete elements helps deliver a quality structural design that satisfies all building requirements in an economically sound manner.
Innovation as a key to success
"For each project, we assign a team of experts in the areas of structural design, building acoustics, special techniques & energy, ...", founder Davy Macquoi explains. "Working from a central BIM model, all of them are involved in the execution of technical analyses and the follow-up of their realization. At the same time, we consider it necessary that all of these engineering professionals pay close attention to how they work. That’s why we have set up an Innovation Cell whose mission it is to support and guide Macobo’s high growth.
The Innovation Cell perfectly embodies the leading role that Macobo wants to play within the construction industry. In this regard, we also invest in partnerships with other innovative companies, universities and research centers. And our Innovation Cell supports and encourages all Macobo experts to think about how they can create added value for our customers through an innovative approach.
In line with that philosophy, BIM plays an important role throughout our projects. More and more analyses in the areas of structural design, building acoustics, special techniques & energy, ... start with a central 3D model that can be shared with the various partners in the construction process. As a member of the WTCB BIM cluster, we also share our experience with other construction companies and engineering professionals, and we actively take on our role as a leader in the construction industry. "
Structural design of the unusual
"The city of Kortrijk’s new urban swimming pool is another example of a project where all partners work from a central BIM model, and in which we have used Diamonds for 3D structural design analysis," Liesbeth Torfs continues. "Within this major project (that is currently in progress), we work in close collaboration with ARTABEL and Groep Vanhout on behalf of S&R Group.
Of particular interest in this project is the wild water rapid consisting of a series of curved concrete walls that exhibit significant level differences. A beautiful example of a very unusual concrete structure that we design with Diamonds. "
The wild water rapid of the city of Kortrijk's new urban swimming pool, consisting of a series of curved concrete walls, has been fully integrated into the Diamonds 3D structural design analysis model.
"Meanwhile, we have been using Diamonds for about five years now," Liesbeth Torfs adds. "What we like most about Diamonds is that it not just works extremely fast, but that it is very easy to use as well. Macobo's high growth requires everybody to work together as a team, and this needs to be fully supported by the tools we use. Thanks to its ease of use, our experience with Diamonds has been entirely positive in this regard as well."
Realizing the most challenging structural designs
“Another project which appeals to the imagination,” according to Liesbeth Torfs "is the new test and business center for drones at the former air base of Brustem (Belgium). This so-called Droneport incubator building, which is the result of a collaboration between investment company LRM and the city of Sint-Truiden, will provide facilities to support start-ups and research initiatives related to the drone industry. dbv-architecten is in charge of the architectural design, while Macobo takes care of technical aspects.
Next to the Droneport office building, a steel structure will provide space for testing drones. The office building itself is designed as a concrete structure. Seen from the air, it has an unusual curved shape. Inside the building, open spaces can be rearranged to accommodate for changing office needs. On the roof of this appealing building, a terrace is planned to give a magnificent view of the surroundings.
The curved shape of this building and the type of loads that need to be accounted for in the structural design analysis make this project a great example of how Diamonds helps us easily realize even the most challenging building structures. "
The Droneport project is an excellent example of how Macobo uses Diamonds to realize even the most challenging building structures
Added value for both the project developer and the architect
"But challenges can be very different from one project to another," concludes Liesbeth Torfs. "Consider for example the 'De Kering' project in Lommel, Belgium, for which we have worked with D&A architecten on behalf of Loomess. The ground floor is fully furnished as a commercial area, while on the floors there are 23 apartments with spacious terraces. Also, there is an underground level providing ample parking space. Located in the commercial heart of the city of Lommel, this project elegantly combines renovated and newly built parts.
In projects where renovation is involved (such as the 'De Kering' project on behalf of Loomess), the ball must be played very quickly. Using Diamonds to update and recalculate structural design analysis models on the fly, provides the structural engineer with an indispensable productivity tool.
I already mentioned this a few times during the conversation, but I would like to repeat it one more time: Diamonds' great ease of use is essential to us in our day-to-day tasks as structural engineers. If a new colleague strengthens our team (and in a fast growing company like Macobo, that happens frequently), it only takes a few days at the most to get up to full speed with Diamonds. I don’t know of any other structural design analysis software that makes this possible."