Creative Practices to Develop Infrastructure and Abundant Social Life in Nagasaki

December 16, 2020 Allison Koh

In this article, we speak to Taura Gumi Co. Ltd. located in Nagasaki, Japan. Mr Kazuhiro Iwanaga, the company’s president and Ms Hiromi Isobe, Manager of CIM Promotion Department, guide us on i-Construction (ICT) guidelines that are unique to Japan, their involvement in a project that won the 2019 "Special Award" from Good Design Award, and the creative practices they initiated in the construction industry to help promote healthy and abundant community life in Japan. 

All media courtesy of Taura Group unless otherwise stated.

A panoramic, real-life image of the 2019 Good Design Award “Special Award” title winner, showcasing the new Government Building & Disaster Prevention Green Space in Nagasaki, Japan.

A panoramic, real-life image of the 2019 Good Design Award “Special Award” title winner, showcasing the new Government Building & Disaster Prevention Green Space in Nagasaki, Japan.

 

We hear a lot about Construction Information Modelling (CIM) and i-Construction Technology standards in Japan for productivity. What are they and are they different from Building Information Modelling (BIM)? 

 Iwanaga san:

There’s actually not much difference between BIM and CIM. In CIM there is an additional step of running through cycles of surveying, measuring, and inspecting the site, to consolidate the information into a 3D model. i-Construction (ICT) is a standard released in 2016 across Japan designed to work hand-in-hand with CIM. It has proven to reduce construction time by 30% through the use of drones and ICT equipment to improve the efficiency of operations and work environment. 

Using technology to visualize the site can be very effective with customers as it allows everyone to be on the same page, thus facilitating quick communications. In general, these standards are geared towards improving productivity so we are able to reduce costs, raise wages, and eliminate the 3Ks: kitsui, kitanai, kiken (difficult, messy, dangerous). 

“Using technology to visualize the site can prove to be very effective with customers as it allows for everyone to be on the same page, thus facilitating quick communications.”

 

There is no doubt this was an incredible project to be a part of, having won Good Design’s 2019 Special Award. What was it like to work on this? 

Isobe san: 

(Laughs) I’m not a 3D modelling professional; my only experience in architectural drawings was when I worked for a structural engineering firm prior to joining this company a few months ago. I searched for a software to meet the scope and tight timeline of this project and SketchUp seemed to be the right fit thanks to its being affordable and easy to learn, along with its level of accuracy and interoperability with other software. I took a one-day intensive SketchUp course in Tokyo, tried it with a few designs and then jumped straight into this project. 

“I took a one-day SketchUp intensive course in Tokyo, tried it with a few designs and then jumped straight into this project.”

Picturesque, real-life image of the 2019 Good Design Award “Special Award” title winner, showcasing the new Government Building & Disaster Prevention Green Space in Nagasaki, Japan.

Picturesque, real-life image of the 2019 Good Design Award “Special Award” title winner, showcasing the new Government Building & Disaster Prevention Green Space in Nagasaki, Japan.

 

Tell us the background of this award-winning project in Japan and how long it took to complete?

Isobe san: 

This project is located at Nagasaki port as part of the urban design system. The government has been unifying public works in this area for the past 20, developing parks, hospitals and street designs along rivers. A new prefectural government building was also part of the plan, and so we partnered with an urban design expert to construct the park, roads, and quay wall around the building.  

In this project, the police building, parking lot, prefectural office, and green space (Onoue Hill), are all positioned as the base facility for disaster prevention in Nagasaki Prefecture. Each administrative agency's gathering space is equipped with disaster prevention functions and connected to the sea. The facility was designed to allow each government agency to work together in response to a disaster, and in the event roads were cut off, allow for relief supplies to be accessed via the sea. 

Onoue Hill, located at the far end of Nagasaki Port in the bay, is designed to serve as a gathering point for disaster relief and distribution of relief supplies. The grass is mowed in two colors to mark the placement of relief supplies. In addition, a sanitary system, without sewage, is built underneath the green space so that even if lifelines are disrupted, temporarily toilets can be accessed.

Map of Nagasaki Urban Street Design

Map of Nagasaki Urban Street Design

Looking back, it was an intense period, fitting everything into two months of design and five months of construction work.  Using SketchUp in this project helped me develop a more productive approach that allowed me to have discussions on construction methods and procedures easily. I was able to communicate with engineers on-site thanks to the ease of 3D modeling compared to CAD, and even present some well-received counter-proposals. Prior to using SketchUp, it was difficult to communicate images to the people involved.

“Using SketchUp in this project helped me  develop a more productive approach that allowed me to have discussions on construction methods and procedures easily.”

 

We heard that this 10-minute presentation video at Urban Design Conference received a lot of praise. Tell us about it.

Isobe san:

Our scope was to only create a model of spaces that we were in charge of. However, just the 3D model of the Onoue Hill green space wasn’t sufficient for us to study it. That’s why we decided to involve relevant personnel in charge to retrieve drawings and create a 3D model of the surrounding area, including the buildings and the disaster prevention green space. I didn’t expect it to be so successful, really. 

Presentation of the project showcasing topography, landmarks, quay wall facing the disaster prevention green space, the new government buildings and road leading to the green space. 

 

Iwanaga san:

After construction was completed, the video was broadcast at the opening ceremony of the Urban Design Conference, in the lobby of the new prefectural office, and featured on the Nagasaki Prefecture's website. This wide broadcast helped us establish new contacts, some of whom are now our clients. 

“This wide broadcast helped us establish new contacts, some of whom are now our clients.”


What’s the typical workflow in your organization?

Isobe san:

We first start with surveying the site using ICT standards. We use drones, 3D scanners and 3D CAD to acquire surveyance and point cloud data. These 3D data are converted into coordinates to create senkei (Line forms), capturing the contours and shape of the terrain, forming the fundamentals of how we can build the infrastructure model. Senkei also enables the extraction of cross-sections information which will be then exported for further 3D design.

With all the coordinates in place, we then use SketchUp to create the model. The quantity of the model parts will be calculated simultaneously and the model will be inspected through 3D data. Once that is complete, we proceed to present the concept, followed by construction and delivery.

 Point-cloud data from an image taken by drone, showing the senkei (line forms) cross-sections.

Point-cloud data from an image taken by drone, showing the senkei (line forms) cross-sections. 

 

We hear that you have some initiatives to attract young talents. Tell us about it.

Iwanaga san:

We use Virtual Reality (VR) for public and student site tours to pique the interests of high school students in the construction industry. We bring three headsets for site tours and use it with specialists to confirm matters during the design stage. It’s a practical and worthy investment! 

We also offer internships for students to experience using SketchUp and provide hands-on drone flight experience. We hope that by embracing new technology, we can attract and nurture young talents.  

Site tour for the general public.

Site tour for the general public.

Local junior high school students’ site tour.

Local junior high school students’ site tour.

 

Tell us about the Women’s Safety and Health Patrol in your organization.

Iwanaga san:

We established a Safety and Health Patrol team, made up of four to five female employees to conduct monthly inspections and patrols at construction sites in promotion of safety activities. We inspect things like the state of the organization in office, cleaning status of temporary toilets, and communication with field personnel. We strive to improve site hygiene from the perspective of women and create a clean environment where young workers would feel comfortable to work in. 

Female employee conducting a monthly inspection patrol at a construction site.

Female employee conducting a monthly inspection patrol at a construction site. 

 

Do you have any favourite extension? 

Isobe san:

My favourite is Curviloft. Other extensions that I also frequently use are Kubity Pro, PathCopy and DropGC.

 

About Taura Gumi Co. Ltd. 

Established in 1946, Taura Gumi aims to be a creative company with abundant social capital to achieve an affluent social life. Taura Gumi is grateful to play a major role in the development of the region with comfortable social infrastructure through various construction works in the prefecture. Taura Gumi strives to be a company that is trusted by the local community by actively tapping on new technologies and their experience. 

About the Author

Allison Koh

Based in Singapore, Allison enjoys exploring the world of architecture through SketchUppers’ projects. She can be frequently sighted at the dance studio, and one of her life goals includes managing the splits one day.

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