Raising the Bar for Infrastructural Development through Design Innovation

Emmanuel Samuel
Sales Development Director Autodesk Asia-Pacific

In emerging markets, aging and dilapidated infrastructure can be an impediment to economic growth.  Together with accelerated urbanization, this situation has forced governments to sit up and pay attention to the importance of infrastructural development.

In India, urbanization is taking place at a more rapid rate than in the rest of the world. According to the United Nations’ ‘State of the World Population 2007’ report, by 2030, 40.76% of India’s population will be living in urban areas compared to about 28.4% today. In other emerging countries in Asia, around 1 million people are migrating to cities from rural areas annually. To cope with this influx, there is an urgent requirement for improved urban planning and management. Ad hoc residential development needs to be better controlled and basic infrastructure provided ahead of development taking place.

To that end, many governments have prioritized infrastructure development in their stimulus packages. In Asia alone, governments have set aside significant funds for infrastructure projects. In China, part of a 4 trillion Yuan budget (US$ 570 billion) has been allocated for infrastructure projects specifically for new railways, subways, and airports. The Indonesian government has announced a 72 trillion Rupiah (US$6.5 billion) fiscal stimulus package focused on infrastructure and other projects to boost growth and create jobs. The Indian government announced a stimulus package that is expected to provide Rs 1,000,000 crore (US$ 200 billion) worth of financial fillip to the domestic infrastructure sector for the next one and a half years.

An investment of 2% of building costs on green products and systems will yield savings of at least 10 times over the life of a building

With so much investment being pumped into infrastructure development, decision makers involved in large-scale infrastructure development projects need to make informed choices, and build in a responsible way that addresses issues like cost, the environment, resource and time. As building growth increasingly intersects with environmental concerns and the rising cost of energy, sustainable design is also an area of consideration.
Either way, it is important that organizations in the private and public sector be able to account for their decisions that have to be executed in efficient, effective and responsible ways. The proliferation of communication channels means that any organization is now subject to more scrutiny than ever. The need for greater accountability and transparency in government spending, coupled with the current market sentiment, presents public sector organizations with both the need and opportunity to adopt and demonstrate a leading and innovative mindset, and introduce new approaches to their traditional methods in order to improve productivity and reduce costs. One way to achieve that is by exploring the role the new workflows and design technologies can play in infrastructure development.

Building Information Modelling (BIM)

How can design technologies assist in the planning processes and what diagnostic tools should the public sector leverage to be more cost-effective, resource efficient, and economically sound?

Building Information Modelling (BIM) can help an infrastructure development team cost effectively design and deliver high-performing, resource-efficient buildings and infrastructure, as well as renovate or replace aging infrastructure.  BIM is an integrated process that allows architects, engineers, builders, and owners to explore a project’s key physical and functional characteristics digitally– before it’s built. With the BIM approach, coordinated, reliable information is used throughout the process to design innovative projects,  accurately visualize appearance for better communication, and simulate real-world  performance for better understanding of important characteristics such as cost, scheduling and environmental impact.

With BIM, government bodies can improve the innovation, quality and accuracy of their  project designs. BIM is at the center of collaboration for builders and construction partners to  collaborate early in the process, share schedule and cost information, and make more  informed design decisions; thus driving positive project outcomes.3D design technology in  particular, plays a key role by providing the visualization, simulation, analysis and  predictive capabilities that enables improved and more sustainable design practices.

Traditional 2D design and drafting processes take signifi cant time, skill and effort to generate  such information. With the software that companies like Autodesk offer, architects, engineers  and designers can design, visualise and simulate a building and predict the real-world  performance of projects before they are built. Professionals can minimize waste and choose the  best building materials in the building design and construction process. They can also minimize energy consumption, and develop green building designs easier, faster, and with greater accuracy.

Sustainable design begins when projects are fi rst imagined, and require thinking “green” at  every stage in the project lifecycle. Sustainable development through technology, in  particular, promises greatest impact when it comes to energy use, material waste and even  air quality. In the highly-esteemed study “The Costs and Financial Benefi ts of Building Green”, results showed that an investment of 2% of building costs on green products and  systems will yield savings of at least 10 times over the life of a building. Evidently, the benefi  ts and opportunities to save money on the operational costs are enormous.


Despite the economic downturn, countries in Asia need to spend $700 billion per annum for  the foreseeable future in order to meet their expanding infrastructure needs. India is no  exception and just like its Asian counterparts, infrastructure development will continue to be  a priority on the national agenda. At the very foundation of it all, is the need to cultivate a  new breed of thinkers and designers in every aspect of the infrastructure space to deal cope  with ongoing demand. This future generation of leaders would not only need to have  internalised the concept of sustainable design, but also have a multidisciplinary education. At  the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, the premier technology institute in India,  Autodesk design and engineering professionals work closely with faculty at the Autodesk  Center of Excellence for Integrated Construction Practice to develop a multi-faceted  curriculum for construction and building. By teaching students how to use BIM, Digital  Prototyping and other latest design software tools that mirror the realities in the industry,  they will be equipped with the critical thinking and analysis skills needed to succeed in an  integrated practice of design.


Innovative design software gives today’s decision makers the ability to be digital master- builders – addressing infrastructural development through designing, visualising and  simulating critical outcomes in a faster, more cost effective, and more sustainable manner.