BIM: Here to stay

BIM or Building Information Modelling is a term which is now common place in the construction industry. Some see it as the natural evolution of the industry and some the magic pill to solve all problems. Others see it as the unwelcomed revolution adding unnecessary process and complication where it is not needed. One thing for sure is that BIM is here and there is no turning back.

Perhaps the biggest barrier for those less accepting of a future with BIM is the understanding of the core principles of what BIM is trying to achieve; and they have my sympathy. Learning how to speak BIM is not easy, especially in an industry already flooded with abbreviations. The world of BIM has brought with it a multitude of additional letters and numbers to understand, PAS 1192, EIR and BEP to name a few. Even the acronym BIM invokes thoughts of a technically sophisticated process; the evolution of CAD (Computer Aided Design) with the comment ‘isn’t it CAD but in 3D?’ being a common misunderstanding. With so many technical standards, documents and complex software systems to understand there is little surprise that some see BIM as the emperor’s new clothes.

As a practice we embarked on our BIM journey over 5 years ago with a small number of the team undergoing training in Autodesk Revit. For a short while it was true to say that the intelligent 3d modelling which Revit facilitated was seen to be the essence of what BIM was all about. With a number of BIM led projects under our belts, over half our staff using Revit and the Practice working towards STROMA BIM Certification (PAS 1192 Compliance), our thoughts about what BIM is have been completely transformed.

Today we take the view that all our projects are BIM projects, and they always have been. In short, there is no such thing as a non-BIM project. No matter what we work on, all our projects involve the creation, communication and management of information.

The delivery of complex products such as buildings relies on the integration and collaboration of people, process and tools. All parties involved in the construction process need to have a willingness to align, share, and work together as a team. The success of a project is based on these behaviours being correctly applied as well as the appropriate skill being deployed. So what does BIM do? It defines how we collaborate and where we are heading!

In the relatively new world of BIM we now define how we are going to work together and what the outputs will be for each commission. We model for the benefit of others as well as ourselves and we are simply being asked to work in a structured, co-ordinated and managed way. But if we have always applied the principles of BIM, then what is all the fuss about?

The BIM process has developed as a result of technological advances predominantly with digital solutions used by the industry. Thanks to these advances we are able to work more effectively, efficiently, communicate with greater detail and clarity. What is more critical is that these advances allow us to work together with ever increasing intimacy and reliance.

Working in BIM signals the end of design team disciplines producing information in silo’s before bringing it together to co-ordinate prior to construction. We now work together from the outset, working around and with each parties information. The advantages on this are clear and co-ordination becomes inherent to the process, you simply can’t avoid it. What it also means is that we are more reliant on each party delivering their information to the right level of detail and at the right time. If one party fails to deliver, the impact is felt throughout the team.

As our digital production methods become increasingly sophisticated and our reliance on each other intensifies so does the need to manage the outputs and processes. This is why BIM is such a widely discussed topic and ultimately why our industry has a BIM led future.

Written by Scott Lunn

  • Watson Batty Architects; Leeds; Guiseley; Loughborough; Construction; Architecture; Yorkshire; FutureBuilt; WBA; BIM; Modelling
  • Watson Batty Architects; Leeds; Guiseley; Loughborough; Construction; Architecture; Yorkshire; FutureBuilt; WBA; BIM; Modelling