Reflex Architects, Stockholm

Reflex Architects: Looking to be Challenged

I catch up with Marco Testa in a cold, January day in Stockholm. The Reflex office is a cool mix of modernity and utility. It’s an inspiring creative space. We talk informally about the industry and his current projects. One thing becomes clear in our conversation, Marco Testa isn’t scared of a challenge. In fact his office strives on creative challenges. Since its establishment in 1999, Reflex has sought demanding projects. “If it’s not complex and demanding, we usually step back from a project. It’s become part of our design philosophy”. Said Marco. Reflex are currently working on assignments ranging from a huge new office complex through to luxury private villas. Their team consists of 70 staff. Marco, an Italian, has been previously working in Italy, Japan and the USA. He believes their success is based on a unique approach to design. “We approach a project in a very process orientated way. We first have a workshop with the client. We make a detailed analysis and really consider the business plan behind the client’s needs. By doing so, we can offer a customized product that really fits with the clients expectations”. Complex projects demand simple solutions. Building Information Modelling (BIM) has been one such solution for Reflex. “BIM gives us the opportunity to move from an abstract design to a replica design. It’s changed the way we illustrate our work. We can now define all the pieces that need to be built. It never happened before BIM. I even feel we’ve become more competitive, we have been winning business by explaining how we can better control the design and construction process”. It’s not unusual for Marco to have 20 architects and a host other consultants working on a larger project. For him, the world of architecture will continue to grow in complexity. Air conditioning systems and modern data networks all need integral planning. Dealing with such planning lead Marco toward discovering Solibri and its software, the Solibri Model Checker (SMC).
“I am the self-appointed IT responsible person in Reflex. I have a curiosity towards technology and wanted software that could make my life easier. I saw that Solibri could offer me a tool in better managing complexity. I was found myself surrounded by IFC files and I needed to put them together and thoroughly check them. I took a chance and bought Solibri. I’m glad I did, I think Solibri is fantastic. After the training we were pretty much fully utilizing it from day one.” Tells Marco.
He also sees Solibri offering project management and an educational role. “Each Monday there is a meeting where we show slides and share issues. I can ask questions like – Why are we designing this wrong? – I can now make statistics with Solibri. By sharing and advising the design team, I see less mistakes and zero collisions”.   He also feels he has a better grip on the overall project with software like the SMC. It’s not all plain sailing for Marco. Using Solibri within Reflex also means you can see and measure your own mistakes. Something that Marco admitted with a wry smile – “You and your team believe you were all doing well, but Solibri showed we weren’t at first.” Before leaving Marco, I asked him thoughts for the future developments of technology. He expects IFC standards to evolve and BIM to be a mandatory in large projects. He also thinks tablets and GPS will play a much greater role when working on site and walking through a new building development. On a different note, he also notices that the younger generation he employs is not afraid of technology. Young architects have a good grounding in BIM and modelling, it’s the confidence in design itself on which he often mentors. It’s both refreshing and interesting when talking with Marco. Here’s an architect who indeed likes a modern day challenge. A challenge that encourages him to grow and to keep abreast of the latest technology. It’s good to see Solibri as a tool that gives him confidence in quality and information sharing. It’s no surprise that his office continues to grow through the current recession and can look towards a promising future.