The adoption of a digital engineering approach has been essential to Australia’s biggest public transport project, Sydney Metro. 

WSP is working on the design for Sydney Metro City and Southwest, as well as Sydney Metro West – 66km of rail in total.

architecture WSP

As Sydney Metro is the first fully-automated metro system in Australia, each element of early design needs to be carefully coordinated and understood by all involved, according to WSP. 

“Traditional methods of 2D design and coordination and client and stakeholder engagement don’t move fast enough for a project with such a complex and accelerated design timeline,” says Samantha McWilliam, design manager for the projects’ technical advisor role. 

“On Sydney Metro City and Southwest, SiteMap, a WSP bespoke web-based GIS portal, acted as a centralised digital data environment that was always current, secure and supported access to relevant information by all disciplines. It formed the basis of the portal, WSP Create, which has been rolled out in a project-specific version for Sydney Metro West. Additionally, it will be used to host and make available all digital content produced over the course of the scoping and definition design phases.

“Overall, these digital tools allow the team to interact with the designs in a new, quick and cost-effective way. Complex 3D design constraints can be shown in a user-friendly platform.”

The team managed costs by using low rendered models in early design, and later using highly rendered models in stakeholder and executive engagements to obtain approval for critical design decisions. With the use of Augmented Reality the team has also been able to easily assess the visual impacts associated with design decisions. 

Architects could learn a lot from the tools used in the Sydney Metro design, particularly for large, complex projects with multiple stakeholder groups and significant visual impacts.