Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Construction Manufacturers - Going Digital

One of the most debated topics at BIM conferences and on social media is around what building product manufacturers need to do to take advantage of digital opportunities.

Much of this debate is around 'do manufacturers need objects?' or 'do they just need information feeds?'.

I contributed an opinion piece on this topic for our 'What specifiers want' report that looks at how manufacturer information used to be delivered to specifiers by librarians and through physical product directories and what has changed in the last 4-5 years.

This report can be downloaded for free at:

Article in the What Specifiers Want report
The article looks at manufacturer content within models, but also the value of streaming well structured data straight into specifications (screenshot below), linked technical literature and the value of marketing through delivering knowledge to support construction professionals with their CPD. The value of face-to-face and relationship building is still there in a digital world!

The links below for those wanting to know more...

Download the free report

Read the comment piece on

Find out more about how NBS can support

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Autodesk University London Review

I've just been at Autodesk University London for two days. Almost 1,400 delegates at the fantastic (but *slightly* warm) Tobacco Docks venue.

A collection of the best bits from the two days below (told mainly through photographs and video) ;)

Starting with the keynote session on Day One, I think Martha Tsigkari from Foster and Partners stole the show. A fantastic passionate presentation on how cutting edge technology and inspirational design come together to produce an amazing built environment. The story from the Gherkin to Mexico Airport was told and it was a really good one.
Martha F+P
If you have the time, it's worth spending ten minutes watching the story behind the airport design...

Machine learning, the cloud and big data was maybe the theme of day one. And every AI presentation needs the Terminator (it's the rules!)...
The machines are coming!
Less scary than the Terminator (I think) is this machine-learning-paintball-machine that can er... paint the Mona Lisa in 80 milliseconds :)

Back to reality (and more relevant to AEC) is the functionality that nobody knows about on your iPhone that categorises you photographs by recognising the objects in them! Try searching for 'dog' or 'football' or 'beer' or 'skyscraper' or 'bridge' or 'sun' on your phone now...

Automatic image recognition
What are practical applications of this? There was a presentation showing how health and safety issues can be captured in real time through video recognition - 'no hard hat' - 'no high vis jacket'. How machines can design the strongest structure with the least material through cloud iterations. How machines could potentially help predict the most likely specification decisions based on the parameters that are entered... some mind blowing things.

Back to the here and now, we had the pleasure to launch the public beta of our new NBS Online Viewer. This has been a collaboration between ourselves and Autodesk that allows model and specifications to be viewed in the cloud. It was fantastic to be on Stage One presenting to a big crowd and also to have Brian Roepke from Autodesk and Don Kelman from BDP as part of the same joint presentation.
Always great to present to a big audience
Fantastic to have Don from BDP Glasgow on stage giving the customer story
Please check out our BDP case study video below...

For the NBS Online Viewer we used components from the Autodesk Forge toolset. Later in the day Adam Nagy from the Forge team presented showing some sample code and demonstrating live prototypes on the stage.

Live software demos

I wonder what these guys thought would happen over the next 35 years?
Throughout both days we had two stands within the Exhibition Hall. We demonstrated the viewer at the Forge Stand and also had a main NBS stand to showcase the full NBS BIM workflow.
Live software demonstrations

Discussions around the NBS stand
The day two keynote looked at the latest developments in the Autodesk product range from all of their sectors. The themes that go across the industry include the need to

  • Change from a paper world to a digital world
  • Connect data from different software solutions together
  • Utilise the power of the cloud and big data to be able to design, build and monitor use more effectively.

A simpler plan of work - design it, make it, use it

Sarah Hodges looking at an industry that relies on paper
I attended the ISG Smart Building presentation from Paul Cook that was interesting. The summary being, if you want to have a truly smart building in the operation stage - then you must consider the information structures that will get built up from the strategy stage.

There were also sessions on the creative software used to produce the special effects in movies.
I'm one with the Force and the Force is with me
Then moving back to the AEC sector I learnt a little more about Smart Motorways and how CH2M are managing and delivering information models on these projects.

I was on again on day two (last session of the conference) where I looked at some example BIM projects where information coordination was being seen. In our NBS National BIM Survey we ask the question about BIM adoption, but how do people judge whether they actually are? Is modelling in 3D to generate drawings, schedules and detect clashes enough?
A smaller project (when compared to a railway station!) case study below:

Fantastic to see so many people staying right to the very end to listen to my second talk
So an intense, inspiring, very worthwhile couple of days. Really fantastic to meet up with so many people. For more information on how NBS can help with your BIM adoptions please check out the website below:

A little cooler, quieter and with some very beautiful spaces down on the lower floor

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

20 Fenchurch Street - The Walkie Talkie

I've known for sometime that it is possible to book a free visit slot at the Sky Garden at the top of 20 Fenchurch Street (The Walkie Talkie) London.

So I used the opportunity before the the Autodesk University London set up afternoon to do a bit of lunchtime work there.

Photographs below...

The Walkie Talkie

The initial view

The writing on the glass indicates the view points

The contrast of old vs new

The fantastic space at the top

Natural ventillation combined with artificial watering provides the environment for the garden

Quiet at the back for those wanting a view of the Shard and the Gherkin

Zoom in to spot Wembley in the distance

Plants + Glass + View

Not a bad location to work from

Pretty high
Other tall building blog posts...
- Tower Hill
- Durham Cathedral
- Marina Bay Sands
- The Gherkin

...and a BIM presentation from Hilson Moran on this project from five years ago...

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

NBS BIM Case Studies

A couple of new case studies have been published on our website that feature aspects of how NBS can be used on BIM projects.

Videos are embedded below, please click the links to go to the full case study.

1. Primary School
This is one of a number of school projects from Manchester City Council following their move as a client to standardise their BIM process. This looks at the design stages of the project following the production of a standardised digital plan of work.

All members of the project team used NBS to produce a standardised set of design information.
Find out more about this project at...

2. Historic building refurbishment
This is the story of our very own building project in city centre Newcastle. This looks at the information flow through the project timeline from the original laser scan of the existing historic building.
Find out more about this project at...