Objectives and results of the Design Process from
North by Northwest Architectes & Joubert Architecture



The overall objective of the ELASSTIC project is to improve the security and resilience of large scale multifunctional building complexes to natural and man-made disasters by providing a methodology and tools which enable to include security and resilience from the early design and planning phase of such projects.


Goals of the ELASSTIC Complex

Designing safe, secure and resilient building complexes is a challenge, with requirements going beyond current national regulations and can have a major impact on costs and the final design, if integrated too late in the process. For example, adding barriers, additional escape routes or changing the structure will have a major impact on the costs, the final design as well as the planning of the project especially in an inner-city location.

How can we improve on this, developing a better design process with constant input and output to experts and stakeholders?
Would it be possible to:

  • Design in such a way that architects and engineers work on a project design together in real time?
  • Have a transparent and traceable decision making process using an MCA (multi criteria analysis)?
  • Test the design against potential hazards, such as explosions, flooding, and earthquake while checking the escape routing and use those results to improve our design immediately?

To test our theory, we designed a test case project in The Hague, with a mix of programs, ranging from retail, residential, hotel, offices, theatre to a museum with a total of 65.000m2 above grade.

We used BIM as a design tool, working in one model together with the engineers in real time. We already noticed that a very clear organization and set of draft agreements is necessary, while the advantage is that the design process is completely transparent, traceable and open.

  • Our project, with a size of 65.000m2 above grade had such a large amount of data, already at an early stage of the process that we had to divide it in smaller parts for our hardware to be able to handle it.
  • Exchange of data was possible as long as we used the same software package, but exchange of data via the open IFC standard was still limited by the number of definitions or these were implemented differently in different software packages
  • The members of the design team should be ready to work together in a collaborative design process

Within our design we were successful in designing a fully functional and engineered complex, which was used for our next test.

Could we couple our BIM design to simulation software to be able to get results which could quickly improve our design at an early stage in the design process?

Several simulators were developed, improved or initiated during the period of the project. For example, an evacuation simulation could test our design from an early stage and indicate where escape routes should be added, enlarged or removed. An explosion simulation could show what the potential damage to the building would be in case of a car bomb.

  • Simulation programs have the potential to become software modules or plugins, which can test a design directly in software. We have seen some great improvements within the period of the project and there are still many steps to make and improve.
  • The output from the software model needs to be precise and well defined so that another software package can use the information.
  • Simulators have the potential to deliver valuable additional information during a design process

The output of the software model can also be used for the decision making process, allowing stakeholders and experts an opportunity for a continuous process of checking and improving the final design.

This controllable, transparent design process results in a design with a lower risk of changes later on, as well as a higher quality design.

A procedure template:

Consequently, the design stages were divided into three parts:

  1. BENCHMARK DESIGN - A preliminary design in order that all the ELASSTIC team could validate a certain architectural approach.
  2. 1st QUANTATITIVE DESIGN – A full conceptual design following the studies of each design team member. This design was the basis which was used for testing and experimenting the different hazard scenarios.
  3. 2nd QUANTATITIVE DESIGN – A redesign of the concept design following the integration of the research analysis madeby the Research Team.


Benchmark Design

Nine "conceptual ideas" were presented to the whole ELASSTIC team representing various forms & volumes on the showcase site:



From the various propositions, 'The Ribbon' was chosen as the most ideal solution.

The First Quantitative Design

It was decided to divide the Ribbon object into 5 parts corresponding generally to the various structural elements which also generally corresponded to the different programmes around the complex.


Illust. Cut view of the housing tower

Illust. Cut view of the theatre upper level

Example of a Hazard Scenarios with modifications to the 1st design

Original design for theatre:


Diagrid structure & blast-proof facade:


In detail…….

1st Design Theatre façade detail:

2nd Design Theatre façade with Diagrid construction & blast proof facade:

Second Quantitative Design:



ELASSTIC Project Finalized
Final ELASSTIC Workshop


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 312632 

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