Following lots of interest at a well attending BIM expo in 2017, RIBA WM organised an extended 2 day event in January this year, welcoming over 500 architecture and design students from the UK and South America alongside 200 built environment professionals. The BIM Expo aimed to uncover the endless possibilities within BIM, including demonstrations, presentations of live and past case studies, workshops and a variety of other educational activities to help guests both learn about BIM and aspire to achieve best practice.
The event featured over twenty key BIM pioneers and showcased unique insights from world class designers & BIM managers practising BIM on projects across the world.
Our own Lydia Moth, Architectural Assistant and BIM Guardian of Architype was invited to talk about her experience of BIM. In the following blog, Lydia summarises her talk…
I have been using Revit for over 7 years and have been aware of and engaging with BIM for 5yrs. During this time, I have had a range of interactions with BIM both in practice, education, as a BIM manager and as member of the design team.
My first exposure to Revit was during my term out from the University of Bath, when was fortunate enough to be able to travel to Texas and take an internship at Johnson & Pace Ltd. The firm was multidisciplinary and although the architectural element was relatively small, all members of the design team worked together under the one company. They all also used Revit. This allowed for simultaneous sharing of the same models and meant issues could be flagged quickly as they were being designed.
I took this knowledge of Revit and practice and applied it back at University, using Revit to track shadow paths, move between scales, and interrogate my designs in a way I wasn’t doing before.
I then moved onto work at Architype for my year out in industry. This was a very different experience than before. The ethos was far more collaborative within the office however the flow of information between design team members was less instantaneous. This is mainly due to slower uptake in the UK by other design team members to use BIM and the fact that each discipline was a separate company. At that time use of a CDE or things such a BIM glue to host federated models were not as commonplace, with 2D information often being given over.
I went to Birmingham City University for my masters where I picked a studio that focused on technology and how it could be pushed. At the same time, I was working at The Space Studio freelancing as a BIM Manager. The duality of using Revit both at university and while in practice with the added element of the BIM responsibilities was invaluable experience. It gave me a much more rounded appreciation of each aspect of the processes involved.
After I graduated I returned to Architype where my new job role involved helping to develop Revit within the office. This evolved to becoming the BIM Guardian with one of my colleagues when the current BIM manager left. I focused initially on using Revit to help with the Passivhaus aspects of design, as 70% of our projects in the office use Passivhaus this offered a great way to increase efficiency.
In my story, I fell in the role of BIM Guardian, rather than pursuing it, but I have stuck with it for a number of reasons. The first and foremost being that BIM is the future of the construction industry. As the NBS National BIM report shows there is an increasing trend of BIM use within practices. This is both because of the benefits it offers but also the BIM level 2 mandate in the UK. I believe embracing BIM means job security and that I can better fulfil my role as an architect within the changing industry.
It is also important to show that women can also be part of the more technological side of architecture. In an industry where women are marginalised, BIM can be a vehicle for female empowerment within a practice. I have been very fortunate to work in a practice that has supported this, however as shown by the statistics on payscale.com, only 9% of BIM managers are female.
Since my job role has evolved and grown to include more BIM we have been working on several elements to improve the office. This includes overhauling the systems in place, both for BIM and Revit to increase efficiency, reduce stress, and improve our offering. This has included creating a Revit skills matrix to target training and resourcing. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses within the team is invaluable in ensuring that the office can work coherently.
We have also been exploring using VR more to improve client engagement and the design process. As well as myself personally looking into personal BIM accreditation after completing the RICS BIM Management course.
The main change however is to change the structure of how BIM is run in the office. Initially Architype came to BIM/ Revit through one person implementing the systems. This led to an imbalance within the offices and meant everyone was reliant on one member for BIM help. We have overhauled this system so that the role is shared, and small working groups help inform the process and disseminate the information within the offices.
Diagrams showing previous BIM management structure and new structure
So what does the future hold. BIM level 3 is a strong possibility for the near future, but what does this mean for us? Honestly, I do not know; the future of BIM is an ever evolving and changeable thing. We have yet to decide what BIM is presently and this leaves us as architects lots of scope for exciting opportunities. It is important that we embrace what BIM has to offer and shape it to the betterment of the industry and the design of quality buildings instead of letting it be defined for us.
Of course there will be increasing automation too and new technologies to explore and utilise as well and it is this that excites me most.
The RIBA BIM Expo was a great melting pot of ideas and interesting debate. I hope that the students were inspired to grasp BIM firmly with two hands and take ownership of the process. For me it was uplifting to hear similar stories to mine and Architypes’ and see how each person or company was engaging with BIM to solve previously unsolvable questions and push design.