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Delivering New Karolinska Solna Hospital with BIM

The B1M | 6:22

Delivering New Karolinska Solna Hospital with BIM

Fred Mills

23 May 2017

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SWEDEN’s New Karolinska Solna Hospital in Stockholm, is one of the largest and most advanced healthcare facilities ever conceived. Once completed, the USD $1.6BN building will contain over 8,000 rooms and treat up to 1,800 patients a day.

There’ll be 36 operating theatres, 8 radiation units, 168 examination rooms, a research lab and numerous classrooms across some 320,000 square metres of indoor space – a floor area greater than that of the Burj Khalifa. The facility is set to be accompanied by a patient hotel, parking garage, research building and a dedicated subway station.

Above: The vast hospital will contain more than 320,000 square metres of indoor space (image courtesy of Holger Staffansson).

Designed by two of Sweden's most renowned architectural practices, White and Tengbom, the project aims to be an exemplar healthcare facility; passionately pursuing a “patient always first” vision.

All inpatients will have private rooms with associated hygiene facilities and space for relatives. The floorplan has been optimised to reduce patient travel distances. Specialist departments are distributed throughout the hospital, negating the need for patients to be transferred between departments for therapies. MRI scanners for example are located throughout the hospital, rather than in a single location.

Above: The hospital is being designed by two of Sweden's most renowned architectural practices, White and Tengbom (image courtesy of Skanska).

Taking such a project from concept to reality is far from easy. New Karolinska Solna was designed with one of the world’s most advanced mechanical and electrical installations and faced the prospect of being constructed alongside the existing operational hospital.

Further, the new building was required to meet the highest technical installation standards and sought an ambitious LEED Gold certification for sustainable design.

To successfully plan and deliver the scheme, the project team embraced building information modelling – making it Sweden’s largest BIM project to date.


Stockholm County Council – who commissioned New Karolinska Solna – required that the project be developed in a BIM environment from the outset, appointing the project team on that basis.

All parties – from the architects and contractor, through to mechanical and electrical engineers and the façade consultants – shared their graphical and non-graphical data within a shared online space known as a common data environment, hosted on a central server.

Above: The client required that the project be developed in a BIM environment from the outset (image courtesy of Skanska).

Design team members exchanged their graphical model files with each other weekly, federating their component files into one model that could then be reviewed in fortnightly design co-ordination meetings, chaired by lead-contractor Skanska.

These sessions enabled the hospital’s design to be tested virtually before it was constructed for real out on the site. Numerous hard and soft clashes were resolved, saving hundreds of hours of potential rework.

The bi-weekly process was repeated until the building’s proposals were well honed. Design iterations occurred faster, risks were identified and reduced, and the wider project team could complete cost and programming analysis on the data generated.

Above: The project’s graphical information model has been populated with almost a million objects (image courtesy of Skanska).

Such an approach meant that almost every aspect of the scheme had been considered in advance of construction and that team were extremely well-informed before a spade ever entered the ground.

Beyond the work of the core design team, the project’s graphical information model has been populated with almost a million objects from some 400 contributors across the supply chain. A single data standard, set out clearly in the project’s BIM execution plan, has helped to ensure that information is well-structured enabling a smooth transition from construction to the operational phase.


The benefits of BIM are also being felt on site where supervisors, site managers, engineers and contractors can access the model via tablet devices. The latest and most up-to-date information is put into the palm of their hands in a well-ordered database – negating the risks of hard copy printed information and the time that could be wasted searching for information, especially on a project of this scale.

Above: Contractors can access the model on site via tablet devices (image courtesy of Skanska).

As if the scheme weren’t complex enough, the new hospital’s site can only be accessed from one of Sweden’s busiest roads. The 320,000 deliveries expected during the construction works have been planned in advance and booked-in electronically using delivery management software. The system tells the driver their delivery time, the GPS co-ordinates of the gate they should use and allows them to book the crane, forklift or lifting equipment needed.


The New Karolinska Solna scheme is the first project in Sweden to be delivered under a Public/Private Partnership finance model, and Skanska development partner Innisfree will be responsible for operating the facility until 2040.

As construction works complete, the project’s information model will be verified and updated with as-built data as required. It will then be passed to Innisfree as an “asset information model” that informs lifecycle costing, optimum operation and maintenance of the live building throughout its life.

The advanced hospital is incorporating numerous technological solutions to improve its operational efficiency. Most intriguing are perhaps the 29 “automated guided vehicles” or “AGVs”.

Above: Automated guided vehicles will transport goods around the hospital using dedicated passageways and elevators (image courtesy of Skanska).

These robots will transport goods around the hospital using dedicated passageways and elevators, freeing up time for clinical and support staff to focus on patient care. The highly automated AGVs will run around the clock and could complete 1,600 transports every day.

While the final outcomes are still to be seen, the project’s stakeholders agree that working in a BIM environment has been indispensable to the success of such a complex project.

The New Karolinska Solna Hospital is set to become a cutting-edge healthcare facility and a unique environment for world-class medical research – a significant BIM case study, both for Sweden and the global construction industry.

Images courtesy of Skanska, White Tengbom Team, Frederik Sweger, Kristoffer Marchi, and Google.

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