Digital Practice

We seek to enhance the human experience through the application of technology.

We firmly believe that the successful application of digital technology will transform the design and construction industry and more generally, bring significant economic, environmental and social benefits for all. We understand that the digitisation of the construction industry is much more than BIM. Digital construction, to us, encompasses the way we communicate, the way we collaborate and the way we deliver information. We’ve undergone own digital transformation which has enabled our business functions to operate more efficiently, bringing huge benefits to the company, our clients and our staff.

Our digital strategy continuously evolves to maintain our position as a leader in our field. We monitor industry trends, assess new technologies, and often create new digital processes or tools of our own to make us better, smarter and faster. But we never lose sight that we are designing and communicating with and for people, and it is the human experience we seek to enhance through the application of technology.

Research and Development

Our commitment to contribute to knowledge and understanding.

We continue to have a strong and relevant voice in our industry. Our research and development programme provides us with new tools and capabilities to improve our design process and outcomes for our clients. We often collaborate with consultant specialists, higher education institutions as well as policy and research bodies, to ensure that we remain at the forefront of design thinking.

Our current research programme covers several key themes including:

  • Digital Technology
  • Offsite Construction
  • Stakeholder Engagement
  • Sustainability
  • Wellbeing
  • Social value
  • Special Educational Needs

These themes resonate with our own values and the concerns of our clients and society. We are continuously developing thought leadership, research papers, digital tools, and further collaborations to ensure that we can make meaningful contributions in all these areas.


Innovation, but not for its own sake. Recent Initiatives include:

HLM_Insight is a web-based building-user engagement tool. Accessible by any user group our clients wish to identify, it explores personal preferences for the quality of the built environment under a number of key physiological and psychological criteria. The results enable us to develop a building brief that genuinely supports people’s health and wellbeing. HLM_Insight is now embedded in our design process with no extra cost to our clients and enables the whole design and commissioning team to make better informed design and property investment decisions. Download our HLM_Insight brochure here.

Coming soon, Healthcheck is a digital tool taking key data from concept design stage and quantifies the likely impact on environmental performance – and in-turn people’s health and wellbeing. In application it will enable our designers to test whether early concepts will deliver the desired outcomes in terms of sustainability and environmental best practice.

This digital engagement tool compliments HLM_Insight and HLM_Healthcheck to complete a digital toolkit that helps ensure that we design with people in mind. This bespoke Post-Occupancy Evaluation questionnaire draws on a number of industry standards to create a rounded, easy-to-use feedback platform that considers qualitative and quantative aspects of completed projects. It helps us to ensure that design intent is matched by people’s experience. It provides invaluable lessons learned.

The topic of offsite construction or design for manufacture and assembly (DfMA) is close to our hearts as we have been pioneers in this area for the past 15 years. Now that government and industry is beginning to openly embrace this approach to construction we are spearheading an innovative approach to digital technology and manufacture that will maintain our position as DfMA market leaders and contribute to the success of our industry in delivering major infrastructure.

Algorithmic design
With an increasing prevalence of modular and offsite manufacturing and assembly, HLM now utilises algorithmic design techniques to create complex and repetitive geometry which may be exported to directly drive factory CNC machinery.  The graphical algorithm editor, Grasshopper and advanced 3D modelling platform, Rhinoceros (Rhino) by Robert McNeel & Associates create a dynamic link to our BIM platforms, Graphisoft ArchiCAD and Autodesk Revit, to enhance the architectural design process with precise engineering methodology and analysis.

Virtual Reality and Visualisation
We have successfully integrated VR into the workflow of many of our teams. This technology is no longer seen as a gimmick but rather an integral part of our design review and development process. It also serves as a tool for client and end user consultation by providing a fully immersive experience into the design for our teams and clients. Real time integration of our models in a VR environment provide valuable feedback and an increased understanding of the space.

BIM Standard Deliverables
This initiative supports the aspirations of BIM Level 3 and the Digital Built Britain programme which attempts to integrate technologies and processes of infrastructure and building projects with related manufacturing. This delivers data rich models capable of being used for construction, manufacture and digital twin simulation and training. This next level information delivery relies on full team and client buy-in and we can help guide everyone through this with model and BIM process management.

The Digital Business
We have continued to invest in new technologies to provide best in class facilities for our staff. Our aim is to provide an environment to support our designers without putting up barriers or restrictions to the design process by certain software or facilities. All of our information is available on a data management system available anywhere and from any device ensuring our staff can operate from anywhere and from anything.

Marcus Earnshaw – Digital
Philip Watson – R&D