Present and future of digital building models

BIM – no panacea but a model with a great future

Axel Bienhaus, Managing Partner at AS+P responsible for Architecture and Building Construction

The vision, propagated by individual companies, that all those involved in planning can simultaneously work on one single model using cloud-based infrastructure makes no sense at present from AS+P’s perspective; this contradicts any regulated and structured planning process. The idea of the architect’s model providing a framework for the expert planners is still reasonable. For this purpose, the architectural model is adjusted in consultation with a structural engineer, before it serves as a three-dimensional planning basis for the MEP design.

Models can be updated in short intervals, allowing close coordination with maximum transparency. Clear visualization of conflicts and collisions facilitates the cross-trade coordination process without fundamentally changing it. Against this background, AS+P perceives no conflicts with the HOAI (Official Scale of Fees for Services by Architects and Engineers) by the BIM method and no blurring of the liability interface, because every design discipline handles and is responsible for their respective model. 

In this form, BIM is a powerful working tool, which should be established in Germany without making unsustainable promises. For constructional implementation, the procedure will remain unchanged until further notice, in that the definition of project specifications for the construction companies is carried out via the scope of works, which primarily consists of drawings and bill of quantities.

The digital model is appended to the tender documents as a calculation aid, resulting in significantly improved costing accuracy and transparency. In this approach, the possibilities of product-neutral tendering do not differ from conventional planning, as long as the model together with its parameters and objects is not defined as contractually binding. In market situations with high demand, this procedure improves the tenderers’ response because the calculation process is made significantly easier and a trust basis is created between tenderers and client.

AS+P’s aim is that the construction companies can also use the planning and tendering models for calculation and project realization.

In AS+P’s view, while model-based definitions of project specifications should be possible in the future, due to a lack of standards and missing specific BIM experience on the part of most of the supply chain parties, they are not expedient at present.

Generally speaking, there is a tendency that design and construction are moving closer together. As with any progress, this includes opportunities as well as risks. Despite reports to the contrary, from AS+P’s perspective, the consistent use of the BIM method is reconcilable with the successful structure of small and medium-sized businesses in Germany.

In the foreseeable future, the planning or tendering models will be continuously used by the construction companies in the course of project realization. This target makes sense at a macroeconomic level, because the previous practice with its variety of data breaches is now streamlined and the overall efficiency increased. This issue has to be addressed by all those involved in order to remain competitive.

AS+P’s aim is that the construction companies can also use the planning and tendering models for calculation and project realization. Since the approach based on multiple models, which was previously used by the calculating companies, consumed unnecessary capacities and resources.

BIM – think ahead.

Currently, at AS+P we are working on an external database solution that is bidirectionally to the BIM model for structured recording of numerical data and requirements that are not directly geometry-related. This includes in particular the low voltage trades, which play a key role in highly installed buildings and extensive technical fire protection – keyword “fire case control matrix”. In parallel, we put an even greater focus on communication with our clients and potential customers in order to reflect more accurately in our data models their demands for continuous use of BIM data for the operation of individual buildings or entire areas.

Further fields of activity for the future include parametric design and “evolutionary computation”. In the early design stages, this allows optimization of buildings or building elements, such as façades, automatically according to defined parameters on the digital model. In doing so, computers carry out a large number of design iterations, evaluating them in relation to predefined design criteria.

Depending on the complexity of the issue, the optimal solution can be developed within a short time. The combination of iterative planning processes, the use of digital building models and the respective simulation tools make it possible for us to develop optimized building solutions according to specific customer needs.

AS+P will consistently pursue the path we embarked upon and extend the application of BIM towards city planning. This is one of the essential objectives of our corporate strategy within the framework of our BIM culture, since its parallels with the GIS methodology open up a broad field of applications.

The combination of iterative planning processes with BIM and the respective simulation tools makes it possible for AS+P to develop optimized building solutions according to customer needs.

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