Friday 7 December 2012

Think BIM 2012 – Design and pre-construction

Throughout 2012  I have chaired the Think BIM half-day conferences at Leeds Met Uni. Today was another good one.
Old and new - Leeds Met ThinkBIM

RIBA Plan of Work 2013
First up was John Orrell from DLA Design Group who presented the changes to the RIBA Plan of Work. The new plan of work will be published at the end of the first quarter of 2013 after consultations with members earlier this year. John explained:
  • The previously published green and BIM overlays to the plan of work will be incorporated into the new publication.
  • There will be variable work streams for procurement, programme and planning to allow for the differing needs of members (from domestic extension to multi-million pound development).
  • The stages will change from letters (Stage A, Stage B…) to numbers (Stage 0, Stage 1…) to align with the CIC and other institute plans.
  • An interactive web version will accompany the hard copy publications [Note – our NBS R+D team are developing this currently – but I don’t think I can say too much about it yet].
There was also a presentation on the new plan of work at the recent RIBA guerrilla tactics event – see link below:

Round-table sessions
The room was then split into four round-table discussion sessions. These looked at the level of detail/development that would be expected at various stages along the plan of work. I decided to go to the two sessions that were most closely linked to NBS.

1. BIM level of detail at “developed design”
“Developed design” was interpreted as roughly RIBA Stage D or E. Twitter-er Rob Jackson from Bond Bryan Architects hosted the session. Some notes below:
  • At this stage there would ideally be certainty about the spaces in the building and also the usage. From this the room dimensions, key performance data (heat/light) and important finishes would be developed.
  • Lots of polygons would not be needed in the model. The layered objects would be made from concept materials and have a notional thickness. Any doors would be box like without the need for vision panels or any other geometric data.
  • Where the rooms are fixed then work could be done in terms of designing the performance of the concept objects – maybe fire and acoustic performance.
Rob Jackson Bond Bryan demonstrates level of detail through beautiful sketches of walls
However, everyone accepted that clients do change their minds, so a balance had to be struck in terms of how much design work was done at this stage.

I then did a quick 10 minutes presentation on Build Qatar Live - but maybe this is a subject for a future blog post.

2. BIM level of detail at “technical design”
Duncan Reed from Balfour Beatty (also a twitter-chap) hosted the second session I attended. This was one stage short of “specialist design” so the general feeling was that pretty much everything was in place. The client and main contractor would probably want certainty on cost, quality and schedule. So enough information to accurately build and price the job would be necessary. A lot of “prelims” information would be complete – temporary work, health and safety reports, CDM. The building user guide (soft landings) would be well developed. I suggested to the group that by the stage there would be clarity on the products specified:
  • Which had been specified by brand
  • Which had been specified by performance and were to be “contractor’s choice” or “submittals”
  • Which systems were performance specified and would get specialist design
Duncan Reed from Balfour Beatty runs the next session
Keynote speaker – Rob Charlton _Space Group
Rob Charlton Chief Exec of _Space Group was the keynote speaker. He explained how a changes in technologies had allowed them to diversify as an organisation to offer more services using an entrepreneurial spirit. Within _Space Group they are now involved in BIM consultancy, BIM object creation services, software development, off-site construction – all in addition to the more traditional architectural services.
_Space Group Rob Charlton - Keynote Speaker
The need for organisations to reinvent themselves has come from both the technological opportunities as a pull force and the push from the tough economic conditions. This has forced many practices to adapt and in some cases practices to disappear. And who is driving this change? Clearly there is the top down push from UK Government. But equally there is the “young professionals” coming through hungry for new more efficient ways of working.

There is a bubble in London at the moment that is forcing practices in the regions to look for work there more often. In terms of improved UK skills, this is also presenting opportunities overseas. Rob also mused how there is a lack of really talented BIM people around and this was creating a market for those with the skills – especially in and around London.

Looking at a construction project timeline and how digital information develops. A V-diagram was shown in which questions could analysed – “has the building been built as designed?” – “does the building operate as intended?”. Rob spoke of how buildings loosely could be split into two categories 1. A building with a clear function and shelf life (build it operate it no value at end-of-life) – maybe a supermarket or a petrol station, and 2. A high profile beautiful building that would be an investment and would actually increase in value in x numbers of years. This is the sort of business discussion that is essential at the outset of any project.

As a final note, Rob commented that the industry had now accepted that the “good old days” of BSF were not going to return. As an organisation you had to be leaner and had to work harder to be a success. And those that were adopting BIM were the ones that would succeed.

Pecha Kucha
Quick fire Pecha Kucha presentations finished off the day. I didn’t take many notes:
Beers donated by Leeds Brewery
- celebrating a great 2013 set of sessions
  • Paul Coates talked about the Infra project and how structured standardised data was essential
  • Paul Wilkinson and Martin Brown who work so hard through each event doing the social media promotion then had separate sessions on technology changes wider than just construction and how our world was changing because of it.
And finally, I did 20 slides on the changes to Uniclass – see the blog post below:

And then finally, (finally), it was time for some free beer kindly donated by Leeds Brewery. I did my best to help those attending to empty the keg of 76 pints – but I then had to make my excuses and get the train over to Manchester for the BSI event. (Blog post still to upload at time of writing).

Quick comment to finish to say a massive “well done” to Claire and Darryl for organising these events. Martin, Paul, Duncan and Rob also need a mention for helping making them so successful.

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