The JDDK Story

"Not a right angle in sight!"
JDDK are pushing BIM boundaries

Amazing buildings. Skillfully designed. Powered by BIM.

For almost 30 years the close-knit team at JDDK Architects have worked hard to deliver imaginative, efficient and affordable proposals that lead to high quality buildings that delight clients. We caught up with the team to find out more about their experiences in developing a BIM approach and discover just how that works in practice on innovative projects like The Sill (pictured) - a youth hostel and visitor centre that acts as a gateway to the Northumberland National Park.

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Meet the JDDK 'family'

Drawing on their enviable experience and expertise the Newcastle-based practice have come along way since an early project developing St Oswald's Hospice (landing the RIBA Building of the Year Award, now the Stirling Prize) back in 1987. Today the firm are bringing their skills and expertise to bear as they shape new digital ways of working. With many long-standing members of staff, it's clear that this is a firm that works as a team, retaining traditional knowledge, while pushing the boundaries of new technologies.

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Taking a unique approach

There's no 'one-size-fits-all' when it comes to projects at JDDK. The team draw on their expertise and insight to provide clients with the kind of innovative building solutions that they would never have thought of themselves with no reliance on 'off-the-peg' designs. There's clear project ownership giving continuity for clients from design through to build and beyond. Retaining the best skills from traditional ways of working, the team are pushing ahead with digital change, using new technologies and processes (where most appropriate) to design and deliver the next generation of buildings.

It's all about timely, accurate,
co-ordinated information

The team at JDDK are adamant that clients shouldn't have to understand BIM to reap the rewards and work hard to deliver timely, accurate co-ordinated information when working on a project. In developing their BIM approach the practice have made good use of Office Masters to ensure key information is captured early and then tailored to meet the needs of particular projects. It's clear that for JDDK staff it's not just about the software - they've examined their business processes and developed these, over the last six years, as BIM awareness and maturity in-house and across and the supply chain has evolved.

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BIM benefits in action at
The Old Post Office

JDDK worked with the team at NBS on the refurbishment and fit-out of the organisation's UK headquarters. The Old Post Office is a Grade II listed building in the heart of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and presented a range of design challenges in looking to combine a complex set of divided spaces. A laser survey right at the start of the project helped fuel a BIM model allowing the team to get stuck into the design work. The team used NBS tools alongside their Revit modelling software to meet client requirements and shape decisions as the project progressed. The end result was a place to be proud of and proof, if proof were necessary, that 'beginning with the end in mind' really does pay dividends.

The Sill - a new gateway to rural Northumberland

By their own admission the Northumberland National Park Authority and Youth Hostel Association proved to be a "very demanding client" for JDDK. The organisations wanted a landmark building that would encourage people from all over the world to come and visit. They also insisted on excellent eco-credentials, low running costs, and the building also had to accommodate income-earning facilities that would encourage visitors to stay longer.

It's fair to say the team at JDDK rose to the challenge with a complex building "inspired by the landscape and of the landscape" with hardly a right angle in sight. The Sill Landscape Discovery Centre features an innovative and impressive publicly-accessible roof made from whin vegetation. BREEAM excellence is secured with the use of woodchip heating, photovoltaic canopies and solar water heating. The result? An amazing building and a £3.35m contribution to the local economy predicted in its first year as it acts as a shop window for the rural businesses in and around the park.

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The digital future

The digital construction revolution is clearly picking up pace. Delivering the benefits of BIM Level 2 across the whole supply chain has the potential to revolutionise the industry and the team at JDDK are excited about what this will mean on projects. Virtual reality is also set to help clients understand and shape designed spaces before work on site even begins. While there's no substitute for traditional skills and experience, the team are excited by what powerful computers and cloud-based technologies will mean when it comes to realising design aspirations. While it's still early days as suppliers upgrade systems and approaches, the team look forward to a day where the entire supply chain can easily work on digital data, unlocking a goldmine of actionable information and making for better buildings.