Project Blueprint

CodeBook software developed by ex-HLM Architects associate Peter Mann in the early nineties, is now in use across many UK healthcare architecture practices.

The Codebook software is available to be purchased through Project Blueprint with full training and support. Customers can purchase Codebook through Blueprint in one of two methods:

Buy multiple licenses as a once off purchase with an on-going small annual maintenance payment, and/or rent licenses for a period of time for large projects at a small fixed monthly fee.

It is in essence a customized CAD (computer-aided design) tool for healthcare, with the capacity to quickly assemble very complex rooms down to 1:50 equipment layouts in a sophisticated way, linking them to NHS equipment codes. However, Peter Mann believes that while architects have willingly adopted CodeBook to solve many of the problems of complicated designs, clients could also usefully employ it in various ways.

Its two key features are:

1. the ability for another member of a large design team to easily pick up someone else’s CAD drawing and continue working on it,
2. the way that equipment and fittings are visually coded and costed according to up-to-date standard NHS codings, so that commissioning may be efficiently integrated with design.

The system’s management of designs allows quality standards to be consolidated during a project’s development, and can be accessed from any terminal in use by the design team. Crucially, the system avoids the problem of duplication previously encountered by multiple users editing the same cad pages.

CodeBook is designed to be compatible with current briefing packages, and offers a systematized way of importing data produced by such packages and synchronizing this with the CAD model as the design is developed. The software will then allow the monitoring of the design against the brief.

“At the design stage of a project the building is fluid as the designer juggles the brief’s requirements to rationalize sometimes conflicting requirements,” says Peter Mann. “With CodeBook used throughout the process, the architect can analyze, both graphically and with equipment schedules, the extent to which the design is fulfilling the brief.

”As the design progresses, an in-depth store of information on the project is built up, compatible with the NHS’ existing Activity Data Base, which can be changed as codes, prices or the equipment itself changes. CodeBook provides the full breadth of data used by the design team from the brief to the as-built,” says Peter Mann. This comprehensive information, fully coded, should be invaluable to those managing the building once complete.

Key features of the system are as follows:

•Thematic views – in the program, complex data is viewed in different colors according to database values. For example, a drawing can be colored and labelled to show space standard achievements or functional relationships.

•Drawings show the positions of all furniture and equipment; other features include mounting heights, annotated drawing frames, detailed schedules and reflected ceiling plans

.•Equipment Library – CodeBook includes a template graphical library of 4,000 items of equipment and furniture. Associated data such as group, description, required services etc. is available.

•Equipment layouts can be built rapidly from a library of graphical components. They can be grouped as standard template configurations.

•The Project Explorer’s hierarchical visual structuring of the database provides a clear view of the project

•Reports, for example budget cost analyses, are produced stored in an industry standard database, which can be linked to external data sources.

•The Room Editor allows users to follow templates or override them, and change all rooms designed to a particular template if desired.

Peter Mann told HD that the system is “now the standard for health architects,” but added that it is also in use in a couple of trusts – Royal Victoria in Belfast for example. The need for architects to design schemes fast is clearly one incentive for such a system. “You are given a very short period of time to do layouts in PFI schemes – architects have to be efficient,” says Peter Mann. He even asserts that the system “helps architects be a valuable part of PFI consortia.” Modeling of whole campuses is also possible, as has been shown in the US.

Many of the usual Cad tools such as rotating rooms or flattening them are useable with the system, which is compatible with the AutoCAD, MicroStation and MicroGDS CAD systems. The system has been used in the design of 10 major UK projects, including the £106m South Tees PFI scheme, and a handful in the US. One lasting benefit to trusts is that ‘best practice’ achieved on a project can be stored and retained to be used easily for future schemes, and not lost, as is often the case:

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