Thursday 1 December 2011

RIBA and BuildOffSite - Towards Intelligent Construction Conference

Yesterday I was one of the speakers at the RIBA and Buildoffsite Towards Intelligent Construction Conference at the RIBA in London.

The conference was kicked off by talks from Richard Ogden, the chairman of BuildOffSite and Angela Brady, President of RIBA. A few quotes I tweeted...

  • "Build off site is not a cottage industry anymore"
  • "Stunning design is possible by building off site"
    Richard Ogden

  • "Architects must make the most of the latest technologies, such as BIM"
  • "BIM - we need to grasp the opportunity now"
    Angela Brady

The first part of the conference was a number of presentations from the team behind the Leadenhall Building (aka The "Cheesegrater"). On stage were representatives from British Land, Rogers Stirk Harbour, Arup and Laing O'Rourke. It was absolutely fascinating stuff. And for BIM fans there was lots and lots there. How the structural steel was modelled and also a key part of the architecture. The myth that BIM is a single software package was dismissed as presentations showed rich digital information being passed from Tekla to Rhino to ANSA to Excel to Nastran. My favourite quote from Andy Butler from Laing O'Rourke was that "the construction was engineering, the engineering was architecture and the architecture is what is making the project work".

The second case study was from Circle's hospital construction team. Representatives from Circle, Fosters and Partners and Brydon Wood took the stage and again it was an inspirational set of presentations. How costs can be brought down from £3,500 per m2 to £2,500 m2 with a view to going down to £2,000 m2 whilst maintaining architectural integrity was shown. How was this being done? By using BIM to standardise rooms and equipment within the hospitals and also from learning from the previous build and feeding this knowledge into the next one - standardising what can be standardised, but giving enough freedom for the architecture.

Those that have been on this blog before will know how much of a BIM fan I am. But one thing I especially loved today was the completely un-ashamed use of slides showing initial concept designs using felt tip pens and pencils. When it comes to designing and developing the RIBAE software we use the latest technology and push the boundaries, but it all starts with pencil sketches on the back of envelopes. So I show no pictures of hospital or cheesegrater visualisations with this blog post, but some simple early stage sketches...

At the end of each case study was a RIBA presentation to summarise. This was a presentation from myself and one from Paul Fletcher. My job for the day was "BIM - the future". Whenever I think of "presenting the future" it takes me back to childhood and BBC's Tomorrow's World. So here are some slides, hopefully the narrative is self-explanatory...


  1. I am a structural engineer and please tell me whether i can use RIBAE software for my work or not??

  2. It's good to know about some insights about the conference. I can say, Towards Intelligent Construction Conference is a significant conference arhitect must attend to. I get curious about BIM and I want to learn more about it.

  3. @Universal Engineering
    Please check out NBS Building - our specification product for building fabric:

    @Tony Cooke
    We are building up quite a strong BIM mini site at the NBS now, please see: