Nov 30

10 years of BIM

BIM Technologies was established nearly ten years ago. We started off with a small number of modelling projects but our first project was 240 Blackfriars for Great Portland Estates. This project had been developed in 2D by AHMM Architects before the 2008 recession.

GPE were keen to de-risk the project by coordinating the fabric and structure. In the first instance, BIM Technologies needed to model the building to allow the clash detection to take place.

Mace, the main contractors, were going through a learning process - as were the supply chain. The design and construction team worked together closely and the project was a success.

Within the next year, we completed further projects with GPE, Derwent and Argent.

The reason for telling this story is to demonstrate how far the industry has come in under a decade. At the time, there were only a handful of BIM projects in the UK being delivered by only a handful of BIM consultants. Level 2 didn’t exist, meaning we had to develop our own documentation through collaboration with the US.

Today, the vast majority of large commercial projects are designed and constructed using BIM. All parts of the supply chain - from design through to delivery - use models. Only the private sector adopted BIM initially, but today universities, schools and hospitals all use BIM as part of their standard development approach.

BIM has helped to successfully deliver hundreds of projects and the benefits must have been demonstrated, otherwise, we would not have seen the level of adoption increase.

Over the past ten years, the industry has developed some fantastic models which are fully co-ordinated and packed with data using the COBie schema. As an example, our second project for GPE was the Rathbone Square development in Fitzrovia which included 600 models without a single clash.

However, early adopter clients are always looking to see how they can continually improve their process to maximise value. As BIM continues to mature, they have models and data which they are not using beyond the construction phase.

The commercial office market is changing and landlords are realising their tenants have different priorities, such as carbon use and connectivity. With data-rich models linked to Internet of Things (IOT) devices, landlords have far more information to share with their tenants. Millennials want to connect with their workspace through a mobile device and this is now achievable.

As the systems in buildings become increasingly sophisticated, users will also want to use their mobile device to connect to services and controls such as lifts or vehicle charging points. They will want to locate colleagues, book meeting rooms or check out café menus within a single app.

The detailed and data-rich handover models have the potential to continue to evolve through the lifetime of a building and become a true digital twin in operation.

Whilst there is an opportunity beyond handover, there is still lots of potential during the design and construction phase.

Back in 2011, being able to federate models and carry out clash reports was innovative. Today, this is expected on every project. In recent years we have seen the emergence of generative design and even artificial intelligence. On-site opportunities to use VR are also being developed.

There is lots more we can do to improve a building lifecycle using digital construction. Let’s hope that we can continue to make the same level of progress that has been made since BIM Technologies was established.