The Best Thermal Baths on The Costa Brava

The Costa Brava which means ”Wild Coast” or “Rough Coast” is a coastal region of Catalonia in north-eastern Spain. Costa Brava stretches from the town of Blanes (which is 60 km northeast of Barcelona) to the French border. There are three counties in Costa Brava- Alt Empordà, Baix Empordà and Selva. All of them are a part of the province of Girona.To reach Costa Brava, you need to take a flight to the Girona airport. Alternatively you may reach the Barcelona airport in Spain which is 92 KMs away from Costa Brava, and then travel by road. Pinar Del Mar, Planamar, Park Hotel San Jorge & Spa, Hostal Alba and many other comfortable hotels are available on this land to pamper you. After checking in to your designated hotel, you may think about taking a thermal bath to relax your tired muscles.Before choosing the best thermal bath center for you, let’s have a look at the available options:-


From the times when the Roman Empire ruled this region, the people of the Costa Brava have been exploring the region’s many medicinal mineral waters and hot baths. It is believed that this water possess relaxing and healing qualities. In the modern times, these thermal baths of the area offer the visitors some of the best facilities. The therapeutic effects of taking a bath in these thermal baths are manifold.1) Balneari Termes Orion- Hotel Balneari Termes Orion offers maximum relaxation through the thermal bath in their facility. They have recently refurbished their luxurious spa to ensure that their clients receive the maximum benefits of these treatments.At 45 degrees Celsius, the water which emerges from the spring is ideal for treatments of aches and pains. There are several kinds if treatments offered in this luxurious natural spring. This bath is surrounded by natural mountains, woodlands and meadows to ensure that the patient receives the maximum benefit from the treatment.2) Balneari Vichy Catalan- This spa contains the purest Vichy Catalan water. The trained masseurs and therapists here provide the customers with a lot of services like chiromassage, inhalations, massage shower, foot-reflexology, paraffin baths, parafango, steam bath and sauna bath. There is a swimming pool which contains the same medicinal water which can be used by the customers for their treatments.Balneari Vichy Catalan Spa will allow you to completely unwind and become ache and pain-free before you leave the place.3) Peralada Spa- This place uses a unique methodology of treatment. They use the wine extracts to help improve their customer’s health and wellbeing. The free radicals present in the wine extracts help in the production of collagen fibres and elastin and it in turn helps in the formation of red blood cells in the blood. The blood circulation is improved, and the body’s immunity increases manifolds.


This luxury spa is located on the bank of a lake in Peralada, Girona. The crystal clear water of the lake is natural and possesses therapeutic properties. There is a steam room to relax your tired muscles and a Jacuzzi to bring you back to life. There are other treatments like heated marble treatment and a barrel shower. A sauna bath will help you to remove the toxins from your body and a thermal circuit around its swimming pools can be used for different kinds of treatments. There is an exclusive “Gran Claustro” meant for the most prestigious clients of the spa.Apart from Costa Brava, the nearby town of La Garriga also has many natural springs and spas for therapeutic purposes. So go ahead and explore. You will definitely have a very relaxing vacation.

Trends That Set You Apart: SEO Techniques That Every Web Designer Should Know

If it was a decade back, then the term ‘SEO’ and web designing wouldn’t have gone parallel. But today the thing is something different. The web-smart world wants more from us and being exclusive is the first requirement of the customers. Webbing the business in a smart way along with decorating and designing the website for a fresh promotion is the new in nowadays.

Web designing incorporates a lot of strategical tasks and implementing them one by one enhances the front-end beauty of the website. It combines a lot of work with the frameworks, the programming languages, CMS or Content Management System, pre-decorated templates, web designing tools and hosting platform. On the other hand, it takes a lot of planning, sketch, graphical designing and strategy building for designing websites. A web design company deploys professional and experienced web designers who will perform all these tasks single-handedly.

The major job of a web designer is to produce the perfect UI & UX designs that will allure the viewers with its unique design. But, today, most of the web designers need to know about a little bit of SEO that will help them to understand its significance in terms of generating traffic to the website and allows them to comprehend its importance in the designing field.

SEO or Search Engine Optimization involves the process of optimizing the website by analyzing the site itself. This is connected to the designing and coding of the website for which the designers should be in the practice of these methods. So, that is why the designers should keep in mind certain things before designing the website.

Mobile Responsive Design
The demand for the mobile first designs has taken the interest of the consumers due to the major shift of searching methods from desktop to mobile. As the huge number of customers is using the smartphones nowadays and search almost everything from their smartphones instead of switching on their desktops and PCs, designing responsive websites has become a necessity for the entrepreneurs for increasing the visibility of their websites. The emergence of Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm has also facilitated the mobile responsive search results, pushing backward the nonresponsive websites in terms of amenity.

This has invoked the designers to use the mobile responsive templates and tools. The designers should use coding & programming that is utterly suited for mobile. The contents should be fit in the screen resolution of the mobile and the layout should be mobile first for the smooth access from the smartphones or cross platform devices.

URL Orientation
Search engines can’t find ambiguous and vague URL identity. The clear format of the URL makes your website SEO-friendly. With a perfect URL, the chances of getting the visibility to the viewers are more. Moreover, incorporating keyword phrases with the URL allows your users to identify and find the URLs easily and quickly. A designer should know about this so that they can easily collaborate with the SEO team of their respected companies.

Enhancement of the Website Speed
Improving the site speed is the major part of the SEO. Google’s algorithm supports the websites that have a good loading speed and disapproves the sites whose loading speed are worst! This is because the users don’t like websites with low loading speed and chances of the increase in the bouncing rate also raises up. Thus, improving the speed of your site is a much-needed thing, which can’t be optimized without the help of the designers. The speed augmentation process lies within the back-end service provided by the designers which include optimizing the database, minimizing HTTP requests, compressing images, reducing server requests, minifying resources, enabling the browser caches and accessing a CDN or Content Delivery Network.

Without the perfect knowledge of SEO and without the comprehension of the importance of site loading speed on SEO, the designers won’t understand its significance. So, for a perfect collaboration, the knowledge of site loading speed is required for the designers.

Pertinent Title Tags
Exclusive & relevant title tags are important for phrasing up an online document and those title tags are only used in the rich snippets aftermath. These title tags are displayed in the SERPs, on the browser, and on the external websites and should be smaller in size so that Google can easily catch them up.

Validated HTML5 And CSS3 Usage
HTML5 & CSS3 enables your website to fit in any resolution. HTML5 is advanced with much more features than the HTML and CSS3 enhance the downloading speed of the page. Authenticated HTML5 & CSS3 helps in implementing good coding that will optimize on-page SEO easily.

In most of the web design companies, the perfect collaboration of SEO and web designing teams is the major requirement because their harmony optimizes the entire website which results in bringing clarity on the front-end website with an aim of increasing more traffic and enhancement of conversion rate.

 

BIM Process Risks for MEP Design Service and How to Mitigate Them

Global construction practice has seen substantial changes over recent years, with the arrival of BIM being a key factor. Building Information Modelling, known as BIM, is a process that involves the creation of 3D models, which enables designers and engineers to create accurate construction scheduling, estimate costs and adapt intelligently to design changes. Accurate building information models and precise building designs are created from the outset, which benefits all stakeholders in the construction process, particularly MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) designers. MEP (M&E) designers or engineers design MEP services, while MEP contractors are then responsible for spatial coordination, detailed design, fabrication and installation. Though BIM drives an effective process for MEP (M&E) design services, there are some risks involved. We look at how these risks can be mitigated.

Firstly, it is useful to understand exactly what the BIM process contributes to MEP engineering design. A BIM model helps visualise spatial MEP requirements. Detailed views are created for analysis, and any clashes of spatial requirements are identified and can be resolved at an early stage. Designs can be altered to mitigate any clashes, and these changes can be seen in the model.

The progress of the MEP design and coordination workflow process has been supported and driven by technological advancements. BIM technology has played an important role in making this possible, especially the use of 3D models through Autodesk’s BIM 360 tool. BIM 360 is a cloud-based software platform developed primarily for construction, which employs checklists, equipment tracking and the monitoring of tasks to improve quality and on-site safety. Within BIM 360, models can be utilised for 2D construction documentation and the 3D coordination of trades. BIM 360 permits the control of processes by project managers, subcontractors, designers and architects at all design stages. It enables the sharing of vast amounts of information between stakeholders and easy communication.

MEP designers can utilise architectural, structural and trade models to plan in detail from the onset of a project by designing in 3D. In general, the process involves MEP design and installation workflows that will streamline planning, designing, coordination, fabrication, installation and construction of a project. Following architectural design, the MEP design engineer develops building services design elements, such as lighting, cooling, heating, drainage, waste, fire prevention and protection services. In most cases, the design engineer is not involved with the detailed spatial design of building services. Usually, it is the MEP, or trade, contractor who carries out the detailed spatial design and installation. It falls to the MEP contractor to convert the consultant’s design into an installation-ready MEP format and provide MEP shop drawing services. At times, fabricators creating ductwork or pipework elements, electrical ladders or sprinklers in a module also contribute.

The BIM process brings all stakeholders on to the same platform at every design stage.

Therefore, an effective collaboration tool would be required to:

  • Enable access to MEP designers, architects, structural designers, MEP contractors
  • Host various formats for files and documents
  • Ease communication
  • Permit designers and shareholders to work on the same models and share design data

BIM 360 Team with Collaboration for Revit (C4R) offers this. It integrates stakeholders and project information into a single cloud-based platform and improves quality while reducing rework. Checklists can monitor safety on site, equipment can be tracked and asset data can be collated. Any problems can be resolved early in the design process, minimising delay, cost and rework.

BIM Process Risks for MEP

Communication

If architects, modellers and designers do not communicate properly, designs may not be properly integrated and the occurrence of errors in the MEP model will increase.

Building Code Understanding

Client needs and local code requirements are of paramount importance and must be clearly understood. If misunderstandings of building codes and client requirements occur the MEP design will be negatively impacted.

Coordination

Stakeholders must coordinate effectively. Any modification executed by any MEP service should be communicated to all other trades. Failure to do so can create hazards at the project implementation stage.

Cost Estimation

The BIM process can help determine overall costs and take off quantities. MEP resources, labour and prices are considered, but materials availability and costs may vary over the duration of the design and implementation, affecting cost estimation.

Technical Knowhow

Effective BIM usage requires in-depth knowledge of BIM technology and Revit, Navisworks, etc. to develop precise MEP designs. Errors could prove costly.

Incomplete BIM Use

In common practice, BIM is used for a specific MEP objective rather than for each and every part of the design process. These include:

  • Remodelling or renovation
  • Material takeoffs and estimation
  • Design models by contractors
  • Detailed models of MEP components

Unless the BIM scope and output are accurately defined, the intended use of the BIM model may not occur.

BIM Model Not Shared with Construction Team

When 2D documents are printed from the model, some of the 3D data may not be transferred. The construction team may need to design a new 3D model, leading to unexpected changes. Designers may not share models with contractors because they are incomplete or do not tally with the construction documents, creating errors and tensions.

Not Possible to Model Everything

Creating models is time consuming. Many details, such as size, shape, location, quantity, and orientation with detailing, fabrication, assembly and installation information, can be included. It may not be possible to create models for every portion of the design, resulting in an incomplete overall picture.

MEP Design Handoff

Contractors traditionally received 2D line diagrams, schedules and specifications of the design from MEP designers. Currently, an increasing number of MEP design engineers create models, raising confusion about who is responsible for duct placement, equipment placement and coordination responsibility – designers or contractors. Models created by MEP designers may not be spatially accurate enough during the early stages.

However, there are several ways to mitigate these shortfalls, such as:

  • Early BIM Adoption (During Design Stage)

All project stakeholders should be encouraged to use BIM from the design stage, with clear guidelines for its use. If BIM is adopted at a later stage without clear specification of its purpose, the results could be confusion, wastage of time and increasing costs.

  • Defined Roles within the BIM Process

Design and modelling roles must be clearly defined before beginning design. If MEP subcontractors need to provide MEP BIM, with accurate routing, attachment details and equipment connections, they must be clearly informed of this and it should be part of the contractual obligations. They will not be able to rely on MEP consultant models in such a case.

  • Improved Coordination Skills

MEP design in BIM currently utilises improved spatial coordination skills during the design phase. This could be a result of employing more technically qualified professionals for these services, and as a consequence, contractors are presented with more accurate models to work with.

  • Accountability for Coordination

Internal coordination is necessary for a viable BIM model, much like a 2D drawing set used to be. Revisions, modifications and file versions must be coordinated as well. Since 3D models are complex, coordination must be monitored and controlled to prevent expensive and unnecessary rework. Even though files can be hosted in the cloud, it is advisable to maintain backups.

It is a certainty that precise, effective design with fewer errors is possible using BIM but there may be challenges in achieving those designs. Specifying the role of BIM, its usage, the stakeholders involved and the challenges to be expected can help optimise the benefits of using BIM and minimise its risks. The positive impact of building information modelling will be felt for some time. Analysing and mitigating the risks involved in its use can only benefit the industry and its players.

Has BIM Changed MEP Design Workflow?

The MEP design and installation workflow involves a number of stakeholders and parties that are collectively responsible for overseeing a series of stages that will result in the building engineering (or building services) to be planned, designed, spatially coordinated, fabricated, installed, commissioned and maintained. Typically, the building services design stage follows the initial architectural design, from which point it can usually be designed in parallel with further architectural as well as structural design changes.

The engineering teams that typically design building services solutions are usually in one of two groups. The first group is typically the building designer, also known as the consultant engineer or the design engineer. It is the role of the design engineer to work closely with the architect to develop the overall building engineering elements including lighting, cooling, heating, drainage, waste, fire prevention and protection services. Traditionally, the design engineer will not be involved in the detailed spatial design of these services. Instead the detailed spatial design and installation would normally be handled by the second party, known as the MEP contractor (M&E contractor) or trade contractor. The MEP or trade contractor is responsible for evolving the initial consultant design into a workable and installation-ready building services solution.

In some instances, there is also a third party involved – the fabricator, who will be responsible for creating MEP components such as ductwork or pipework elements or in some cases pre-fabricated solutions that consist of pipework, electrical ladder, plumbing, ductwork and sprinkler within a frame (module) that is delivered to site for installation in risers, plant rooms and corridors.

This article is concerned with the role of the MEP designer and MEP contractor, specifically, the focus for this article is to discuss how BIM (Building Information Modelling) has influenced the MEP design workflow between the designer and the contractor.

Current MEP BIM Workflow Options

Essentially there are five different MEP design workflow scenarios that currently exist and these will be discussed in the article. They are as follows

  1. Traditional 2D design and 3D BIM coordination
  2. 3D MEP design and 3D BIM coordination
  3. Designers 3D BIM design and coordination
  4. Contractor 3D BIM design and coordination
  5. General contractor 3D model coordination

Traditional 2D Design and 3D BIM Coordination

Considering the traditional MEP approach first, this is where a consultant will create 2D design outputs, which include 2D plan layouts, 2D sections and MEP (M&E) schematics. This will indicate the design intent for the building based on the use specified by the architect. Once the consultant has completed this design information he will pass on the information to an MEP contractor who will be responsible for creating the MEP coordinated solution. This article assumes that the contractor will create a spatially coordinated 3D BIM model using BIM tools such as Revit MEP and Navisworks. The contractor will use the design information and create an installation-ready solution which takes into account installation, efficiency of pipe runs or duct bends, space for lagging and hanging the services, access for post install maintenance and so on. This traditional MEP approach, from a 2D design to a 3D model has existed for the past couple of decades and allows the contractor to add additional information into the model that can be used by him and by facilities management companies after the installation. The use of the 3D tool such as Revit is of course useful as it is an intelligent model, with parametric components and therefore, as well as allowing the contractor to identify and resolve clashes before any time is spent on site, it has other uses and applications where model ‘information’ is used and relied upon.

3D MEP Design and 3D BIM Coordination

The second workflow method is more directly influenced by BIM. As the MEP designer, one will use BIM tools to create a 3D model and associated drawings during his initial design phase (rather than a 2D design) before this information is handed across to an MEP trade contractor. The MEP design engineer will typically create a 3D model due to customer specifications and requirements for a BIM model, as in many cases a federated model (which combines the other disciplines in a single model) is needed by the client for a weekly review and hence the MEP consultant cannot simply provide a set of 2D drawings. In this workflow, the BIM model is effectively a 3D representation of what would otherwise be a 2D deliverable. It will therefore consist of areas where further changes are still needed by a trade contractor. Such examples include the use of library items rather than specific MEP trade contractor procured elements that may be used in the model. The creation of a 3D BIM model at this stage by the consultant is also subject to multiple architectural and structural model changes. These have a knock-on effect on the MEP solution as it is effectively a work-in-progress model for MEP with constant architectural and structural changes and therefore will never have the same level of efficiency, in terms of layout of services, compared to an MEP model where the architectural and structural models are frozen. The downside of this workflow method is of course the extra time taken to create a BIM model by the consultant team. Added to this issue is the fact that 3D modelling expertise and skills within a consulting engineering team can sometimes be limited. Once the consultant completes his model and passes it to the MEP contractor, the decision as to whether the contractor should adapt the model or start the modelling process from the start is really based on the quality of the model to start with. In reality both scenarios will exist, in some cases the MEP trade contractor is better off starting the BIM model again using only the 2D design drawings that are created by the consultant from his BIM model, while in some rare cases the trade contractor will use the consultants MEP BIM model and adapt and modify it with his changes, to make the model ready for installation. In both scenarios, the MEP contractor will always look to make value engineering additions and changes to the model as well as procurement led model changes.

Designers 3D BIM MEP Design and Coordination

The third MEP design workflow method is a more pure and direct consequence of BIM and it actually also starts to promote the benefit of BIM more significantly as it gets closer to ‘virtual design and construction’ aims of the industry. In this workflow the approach of design engineer is to create a BIM model that is spatially coordinated and that is using the actual specified components for the project. Typically, the consultant during this phase will have a longer period of time to create the model, allowing him to absorb the changes from structural and architectural disciplines as they progress through the detailing stages. The fact that the model is then coordinated with the structure and architecture as well as other MEP services allows the consultant to create a model that is being created according to an installation standard that is now more usable by an installer or fabricator. When the model in this workflow method is passed on to a contractor, the contractor may still wish to make final changes and adjustments in a round of value engineering. Typically, the contractor will use the same model in this workflow and make changes to the model provided by the MEP design consultant. Additionally, it is probable that the consultant engineer will not have provided invert (height) levels or dimensions from gridlines and walls for the MEP services on his drawings. In such cases the contractor will therefore have to create more detail in the drawings, but again contractor could use the consultant’s drawings and progress them in more detail for his/her use.

Contractor 3D Design and Coordination

The fourth workflow method involves MEP contractors (or trade contractors) taking on the design responsibility as well as the coordination responsibility. Whilst the coordination responsibility is an established skillset with experience of developing detailed and comprehensive vertical and horizontal strategies for coordination being part of the contractor’s core skills, the design responsibility is a new element for the contractor. This was traditionally known as a design and build approach; however, it is now becoming increasingly common especially in cases where companies are seeking to have rapid design and detailed coordination completed. Typically, the components to be used will be specified by the end client, allowing the contractor to design and model before creating his detailed coordinated drawings from the model, to allow installation and fabrication if needed. The reason that this particular workflow method is not the most popular at present is simply due to the volume of work in the market and also the design responsibility that also has to be assumed as in most cases, contractors may not wish to accept this risk or indeed they may not have the resources to complete the design work. For this workflow method to exist at all means that the contractor has to employ design staff directly and provide design liability insurance to allow him to design the MEP solution as well as install it. The benefit of this workflow option is obviously the time efficiency that is realized and therefore the cost benefit, as the cost of utilising contractor resource will usually be lower compared to expensive design engineering firms. However, it does come with some risk as the design expertise that design engineers possess cannot be easily replicated by contractors, even if they do employ in-house teams.

General Contractor 3D Model Coordination

The fifth variant of MEP design workflow is based on creating coordinated MEP models similar to the traditional 2D to 3D approach but for a different customer group. In this workflow method a 2D architectural, structural and MEP design that is to be used by a main contractor (or general contractor) is then progressed into a 3D BIM model by the contractor to assess the validity and completeness of the model. In some cases, some of the design elements from the different disciplines may be presented in 3D while others may be in 2D. It is also possible that different disciplines may provide models in different software that may or may not present software interoperability challenges. In such instances, a team will typically be employed to use the design data from architectural, structural and MEP designers to then create a 3D BIM model based on actual data. The aim is to identify any inconsistencies in the design data by identifying any clashes in the model, allowing the contractor in such a workflow method to effectively mitigate his/her potential risk. Any problems found within the model are usually passed back to the designers to make amendments to their 2D design for subsequent changes to the 3D BIM model which is ultimately owned by the main contractor. This BIM workflow solution is becoming less common now because MEP contractors and designers are creating BIM models themselves.

In summary, BIM has introduced a number of new workflow variants to the MEP design services sector. The previously tried and trusted method of a 2D design, from a designer, that was developed into a 3D coordinated MEP model by contractor is no longer the workflow solution used as firms now have many other variants and alternatives available. Along with BIM Modeling, other developments in the construction sector, including collaborative online working and work sharing have also contributed to the uptake levels for BIM and impacted the changes to workflow.

In terms of the MEP design workflow options, the most popular of these as we move forward will be the third option, which is the consultant creating a BIM model that is spatially coordinated, or the fourth option which is the contractor taking on the design responsibility as well as creating the coordinated BIM model. Both options are effectively a change to the traditional approach for MEP design and both point to a single source for the model and drawings as opposed to the historical two-tier design approach. All options discussed will require competent BIM coordination and MEP modelling teams and resources. XS CAD, with its large MEP coordination team and MEP engineering design team, which consists of mechanical and electrical engineering professionals, is well placed to deal with such projects for companies based in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. As all are regions where BIM is now the preferred solution, XS CAD, with more than 16 years’ experience and a presence in each market is an ideal option for such companies.