We started out as a micro-architecture practice (a team of four) in the mid-2000s and it soon became clear to us that if we adopted a risk-averse approach, especially on publicly funded projects, we could miss out on the very type of projects that excited us. We quickly realised that to be able to grow and have the opportunity to work on larger and more interesting projects, we needed to find a way to differentiate ourselves.
We believed that BIM provided the opportunity to break the mould of traditional design and construction processes, and by adopting and investing in a digital strategy, we are now a team of 20 forward-thinking architecture and design professionals, working on the types of projects that we had set our sights on. We specialise in living, learning and placemaking and use BIM tools on all our projects at every stage from inception to completion.
Although we’re clearly BIM-advocates, we recognise this isn’t the case for everyone. Even with the UK Government’s April 2016 BIM Level 2 mandate, there is still a need for a large precentage of construction product manufacturers to recognise the benefits of digitising their products and providing dynamic information.
BIM has created an environment where manufacturers have the opportunity to present their products to designers and specifiers in such a way that makes them stand out from their competitors, containing the accurate and structured information needed on the geometry and technical data of the product(s).
There has never been a better time to embrace advanced technologies, having the vision to understand digital construction and in particular BIM, and taking advantage of the technologies that are shaping the global built environment can only be to the suppliers’ advantage.
BIM objects in operationWe are fortunate however that many progressive product manufacturers have adopted BIM and are now adhering to Level 2 requirements, providing all their products’ data in intelligent formats that we can compare and analyse in project workflows and models.
When we first started working with one of our residential developer clients, Columbia, we quickly realised there was an advantage in creating a suite of products that we could use on multiple projects. Having agreed the needs and requirements of the client, we set about selecting manufacturers’ products via the NBS National BIM Library which could offer the suitable properties and met the required standards.
Our first project for Columbia was Salter Street which completed in August 2013. It is a six-storey building immediately adjacent to the Docklands Light Railway viaduct and Westferry Station providing 17 new homes with a variety of types including larger family units and a mix of tenures to create a sustainable development.
On this project, we worked closely with the client to set-up the first range of BIM objects which were then used again on the second project - Boleyn Road in Hackney.
In May 2015, we completed the third development on Finchley Road, Hampstead.
Having this standard format to use for product/object selection meant we could bring significant efficiencies to our project planning and help our developer client achieve their financial goals where speed to market is critical.
Benefits of intelligent objects
Having used high-quality BIM objects on the first project at Salter Street, we had developed a strong baseline where we could evolve and refine our suite of objects which we have grown to trust. By pulling them through to our latest and largest development for Columbia yet - Gateway House, Finchley, a £15m mixed use scheme with 77 homes, commercial space and a new public libarary - this has given us full technical optimisation.
This article features in the NBS National BIM Report for Manufacturers 2017 - download our full, free report today!