An introduction to Early Phase Design for MEP


MagiCAD Group


Early phase design—also referred to as conceptual design or preliminary design—is a phase of the design process preceding the detailed design of the various building services systems. In early phase design, an initial concept model is developed by avoiding exact network modelling and focusing more on data with simple geometries used for visualizing.

Developing an initial concept model provides MEP designers with clear guidelines on what systems and devices need to be fitted and where, but also allows everyone else to better accommodate the requirements of the needed MEP systems in their work, leading to less instances where different disciplines and stakeholders find themselves competing for the same areas.

Early phase design commonly operates with the concept of ‘spaces’. By defining rooms that share similar characteristics and requirements as a space type, designers are able provide a rough layout of the MEP needs for different parts of a building. IFC is a potential key technology in enabling early architectural models to be used for early phase design purposes as it allows information exchange between platforms and online.

An investment into early phase design has the potential to address some key issues that appear in later design phases, namely the lack of information and guidelines during the detailed design phase, competition for spaces and services between different disciplines, and the cost of late-stage design changes. However, the prevalence of early phase design has, until recently, been limited by a lack of dedicated digital solutions.

Early phase design presentation at
Hospital BIM Open 2020

MagiCAD Technical Director Pauli Keinonen will be speaking about Early phase design at the Hospital BIM Open 2020 virtual conference, taking place 28-29 October 2020.

The virtual event is organized by buildingSMART Finland and the Finnish Association of Civil Engineers RIL, and covers topics surrounding the digital construction and maintenance of hospitals. The impact of early phase design can be considerable in hospital projects, considering their highly specialized space definitions and specific requirements for MEP systems.

In his presentation Pauli will shed light on some key questions on early phase design, such as how to use OpenBIM and IFC in order to get an architectural model into use for other disciplines, how to manage space requirements in cloud, how to define service zones, and how to estimate needed equipment.

For more information on the Hospital BIM Open 2020 virtual conference, visit