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The newsletter for RIBA Chartered Practices Valuable support for the business of your practice

In this issue: Building Information Modelling – ‘BIM’, Simpler Core Curriculum CPD, RIBA Conferences, RIBA HomeWise and the autumn talks and exhibitions programme Autumn 2011

RIBA President

Angela Brady

“ I have come to realise the importance of BIM for our future.”

Practice Issues

Angela Brady, RIBA President

Since taking up office as President, I’ve become acutely conscious of the need to focus on my priorities. I’ve already spoken publicly on the subject of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and a major priority of mine is to help the profession take advantage of the opportunities offered by this new way of working. As a practitioner myself, my colleagues and I have come to realise the importance of BIM for our future. It is nothing to be afraid of, in fact, it’s the way forward. We have got to embrace it, because if we don’t we will be left behind. We won’t even be able to tender for many jobs in future. I’ve already set up a new group to work on BIM at the RIBA who will lead on researching and presenting the options at every level of the profession. In the meantime, I hope you find some useful information in this issue of the RIBA Chartered Practice newsletter and that it whets your appetite for more.

CPD Core Curriculum

The Core Curriculum CPD requirements of chartered members in your practice have now become simpler. This ensures that you are able to more easily use CPD tactically to: • Build your business and practice • Meet targets • Acquire new skills • Get new work and new clients • Maintain competence The revised requirement is for at least two hours in each of ten topics per year (previously it was 31 topics over five years.) Note that CPD can be any relevant learning activity, whether structured or self-directed. CPD ranges from weekly reading at one end of the spectrum, to additional qualifications at the other end, with an endless variety of activities in between. The topics are: • Being safe: health and safety • Climate: sustainable architecture • External management: clients, users, and delivery of services • Internal management: professionalism, practice, business and management • Compliance: legal, regulatory and statutory framework and processes • Building procurement and contracts • Designing and building it: structural design, construction, technology and engineering • Where we live: communities, urban and rural design and the planning process • Context: the historic environment and its setting • Access for all: universal/inclusive design 2 RIBA Chartered Practice Newsletter

Each of the topics comes with study notes: these are not mandatory. This extra information represents a potential approach to competence in each topic or as a study guide. You may pick and choose your CPD based on elements of that guidance, or you may choose alternative paths in each topic, depending on what expertise you need. Many members may only need general awareness CPD for some or all topics. However, the more expertise you require in a topic, the more detailed your CPD in that topic ought to be. The RIBA is delivering a full programme of core national events from January, offering detailed CPD in each of the topics. Booking will be live from this autumn on Help and advice are available from your RIBA office in the region, or from the head office on 020 7307 3697 or


Isn’t BIM just 3-D CAD? by Dr Stephen Hamil, Director of Design and Innovation and Head of Building Information Modelling at NBS The benefits gained from Building Information Modelling (BIM) correspond to the quality and depth of information in the model. Dr Stephen Hamil explains how BIM is not just 3-D CAD and how master specification systems make a huge contribution to the ‘I’ in BIM.

Figure 3 – External wall description in NBS Domestic Specification

A CAD example When analysing the benefits of Building Information Modelling it is often worth taking a step back and looking at a very simple example: Consider an external wall (as illustrated in Figures 1 and 2). Within the latest CAD systems, walls are now three-dimensional objects. The wall object is then broken down into the key products that make up its structure. For example, render, external brick leaf, cavity insulation, internal block leaf and plasterboard dry lining. Each of these is an object itself; this allows the creation of automatic schedules and quantity take-off. For example, within a click of a button, the number of bricks or the sheets of plasterboard within the building can be calculated.

Figure 1 – An ‘out of the box’ wall in 3-D CAD

Figure 2 – Products that make up this wall’s structure in 3-D CAD

Product definitions Below this system description of the external wall, each of the products that make up the wall may be defined in greater detail, as for blocks in Figure 4. In the vast majority of cases this detailed information would not be in your 3-D CAD model. For example, what standard a particular product must comply to or what its compressive strength and thermal conductivity is. The question arises: “will this information one day be in CAD?”’. If so, the follow-up question is: “who will maintain its currency?”.

In addition to automatically generated quantities, 3-D CAD models from different disciplines can be combined for clash detection. Users can add quite complex constraints so that the objects interact as expected. And, of course, spectacular visualisations can be created. However, can the full benefits of BIM be realised in these present 3-D CAD models? Consider the same external wall in a master specification system, for example, NBS Domestic Specification, our product for domestic new build, refurbishment and alteration work. Figure 3 displays the template description of the wall as a system in NBS Domestic Specification. Additional key products Immediately, it is apparent that in addition to the key materials such as bricks, blocks and insulation, there are a number of other products that are not described as objects in the 3-D CAD model. The external wall in NBS Domestic Specification describes wall ties, cavity trays, weep holes, and lintels, also it is evident that key products vary above and below the damp-proof course.

Figure 4 – Specification clause for one of the many products that make up the wall

Workmanship A true BIM must contain all of the information required to build and maintain the building. The expected standards for workmanship are a crucial RIBA Chartered Practice Newsletter 3

Isn’t BIM just 3-D CAD?


part of this. Figure 5 displays a sample of the level of detail required to specify workmanship for our external wall.

Figure 5 – Specification clause to ensure high quality workmanship

Figure 6 – Co-ordinated project information

Performance requirements and their verification The final component of a true BIM that this article considers is performance requirements - crucial in many designs. In modern procurement the designers quite often produce outline schemes and describe the included systems in terms of their performance requirements. For instance, our external wall will not be specified in terms of the materials it is made from, but in terms of its structural, acoustic, thermal or aesthetic performance. However, listing performance requirements is only half of the picture, how these requirements are to be verified once the wall is complete is also essential. Master specification systems world-wide are increasingly providing

and maintaining this content. This information must now be linked to the corresponding objects in 3-D CAD systems. Summary It is clear that the use of 3-D object-based CAD packages provide huge benefits over traditional 2-D CAD. However, to really appreciate the true benefits of BIM, the information in 3-D CAD models must be coordinated with information in master specification systems. Figure 6 is an illustration from the very first edition of NBS in 1973. It shows the information on the drawing coordinated with the specification, quantities, standards, regulations and manufacturer information. Technology is now allowing us to accurately and more efficiently coordinate this information. This process has adopted the buzz word ’BIM’. The 3-D CAD example that has been considered in this article is a simple wall, but multiply this across all of the systems and products that make up a building and its surrounding landscape and it is clear that integrating CAD and specification information is a vital step to truly adopting BIM. When you say you have adopted BIM, pause for a moment. Ask yourself have you really adopted BIM or are you currently just using 3-D CAD? Find out more: Stephen is currently blogging about how NBS is embracing BIM at his blog: label/NBS 2012 Join Stephen’s LinkedIn network:

CPI and Uniclass by Sarah Delany, Technical Author, NBS For some time the Uniclass working group of CPI has been discussing how to simplify and improve the tables in Uniclass. When Uniclass was first compiled it brought together into one publication a series of tables that were in use in the construction industry. However, there was no attempt to link or co-ordinate these tables. In some cases the tables are a framework for development. The working group have been working to try to improve this situation. The early tables are clear and fully populated, so that facilities, entities and spaces can be classified easily. It is the elements’ tables where the first challenge arises. The working group took the decision that the two tables of elements should be combined into one table of elements for construction. Table G was a table of elements for buildings and Table H was a framework for elements for civil engineering. In practice, deciding which parts of a project were appropriate for the table G classification or table H was not always clear and straight forward. The new proposal allows the use of the entities table to define the project followed by the elements that are appropriate, therefore creating a clearly understandable classification. This new version is in use on the London Crossrail project and a mechanism for dealing with requests for new classifications has been established. At present the main users of the elements table are those involved in creating the construction models in CAD/BIM 4 RIBA Chartered Practice Newsletter

during the design development phase and implementing the recommendations of BS 1192:2007. Throughout the design development more information relating to performance, costs and specification will be linked to the models. This information must be classified in a way that logically links to the elements tables currently in use. This is the second area of Uniclass that the working group are working to improve. Consideration is being given to a separate table for design development but the most important part of the development is to link from one table to another clearly. As more information about components and products is added throughout the design and construction process, these links will become more and more crucial. NBS are currently developing a unifying table for Uniclass, dealing with work sections, as part of their product development and have submitted this to the working group to help with the discussion. The working group are using this table as a basis for linking and harmonising all the Uniclass tables. CPI has just launched an online tool to help users search for classifications of layers for use in CAD and BIM. This tool also allows users to request classifications that don’t yet exist. The advantage of this is that where new classifications are added by the Uniclass working group, everyone can use the same classification which means that only one version of the classification system exists. See for more information.

Business Watch

BIM – a round-table discussion

Recently Richard Brindley, RIBA Group Director of Membership and Professional Support, met with Paul Fletcher of Through Architecture, and Richard Saxon CBE – both of whom act as RIBA Client Advisers. They discussed everything from the wider implications of BIM – within and without the profession – to the very relevance of the term itself. Here are their thoughts.

Q: What does BIM mean to the profession and for the RIBA? Paul Fletcher: BIM has been adopted as an acronym without people realising what it’s about. Which, in essence, is how an integrated and collaborative team can work with a shared information repository. Richard Saxon: BIM also means legal risks are potentially removed, to a large extent. Instead of getting up in the morning into a sea of liabilities, the BIM world says, “don’t worry, the information is all there and is internally consistent – therefore you can just collaborate”. This last generation’s culture of defensiveness and adversariality can all go. We can go back to the business we hear it was in the early part of the 20th century – when everybody just mucked in.

From the top: Richard Saxon, Paul Fletcher and Richard Brindley.

Richard Brindley: It is an enormous sea-change facing the profession. The RIBA is looking at it in two ways. One, helping upskill and support the profession in adopting and developing BIM. The other is using members’ experience to help advise and influence Government and those designing BIM systems. The Government is actively driving this – but there’s an obvious need to make construction speedier and less costly in these straightened times. It will undoubtedly deliver better performance – lower energy consumption and CO2 reductions. Richard Saxon: I say BIM is what you want it to be – some architects see it as something being done to them, others as something that will enable them to get their job back. Remember that the architect used to be the master of everything. That’s become impossible in the last 20 years. But BIM gives you back the tools to be that – because nothing is forgotten, uncoordinated or inaccurate. “We need to let go of stuff we have held onto dearly that actually tends not to add value to the process.” PF: But it means that, as a profession, we need to let go of stuff we have held onto dearly that actually tends not to add value to the process. Most significantly, the creation of details for construction that, quite frankly, someone else knows more about than we do. BIM enables architects to work with the fabricators and constructors of buildings – allowing them literally to “build before they build”. That addresses so many of the issues we currently face with fragmented, two-dimensional presentation of information. BIM could mean the end of diagrammatic drawings as we understand them. Which is a huge challenge to the profession. We have been trained in the art of plan, section and elevation. Are they relevant anymore? Big question.

RS: If you look at the way aircraft are designed; integrated design and modelling has been in use in that industry for 20 years. Undercarriage assembly for an aircraft is designed by one expert specialist. They provide it as a 3-D integrated model to the aircraft manufacturer, who imports it into the plane and then back-and-forth to say, “Is this going to work, can somebody access such-and-such for maintenance purposes?” etc. Well, that’s exactly how a bathroom could arrive for your design. As a package that will stick into the drawings exactly as it will arrive on site.

Q: Is the use of the term modelling rather than management helpful or harmful? PF: Back to the idea of the master builder – in the days of creating St Paul’s, Christopher Wren would have done nothing but a few concept sketches. Then he oversaw the co-ordination of masons and everyone else critically involved, who did the detailed work to his overall orchestration. So I prefer the word management because modelling suggests it’s about creating a computer model used for a visualisation purposes or possibly clash detection. As a profession, our intellectual design thinking skills are the greatest value we bring – our ability to manipulate information and coordinate the information inputs of others to create a singular unit, a fully resolved building. RS: That said, building simulation during the design process is crucially important. Making a model is a part of deciding what the thing will be like – running thermal simulations, structural simulations, site assembly simulations. A virtual building is a better idea to hang onto when trying to decide if it is a model or is a bunch of information that needs managing. It is a model, but it’s also a bunch of information that needs managing. So could I suggest BIM stands for ‘Building Information Mastery’? PF: A phrase that I came up with, before the days when BIM was coined, was Virtual Prototyping. Every single building we used to build was a prototype. We didn’t really know how we were going to build it, or indeed how it was going to perform. Now, with this technology and way of working, we can simulate that prototype in a virtual environment and analyse how the building will perform in the arena where we can afford to make changes. So I think Virtual Prototyping is a more helpful phrase – but people like three-letter acronyms! RB: Actually, BIM is increasingly a four-letter word, incorporating Modelling and Management, but I think if you had to choose one of those I would choose management. Whatever we call it, it’s not just a system – it’s actually a whole approach, a way of doing things, whatever the letters are. RIBA Chartered Practice Newsletter 5

BIM – a round-table discussion (continued)

PF: Absolutely – attitude is hugely important. There are cultural and process barriers to working in this way that far exceed any of the technological ones.

Q: Does BIM mean architects will be living with their buildings for a longer time? RS: Definitely. At the moment we don’t really know how our buildings work at all. BIM creates a model of the building that sits alongside the real thing. This vastly simplifies things. The virtual building and the real building are in continual conversation. Building managers make huge cost savings – bigger than are made during the construction phase. We’ll end up with the virtual building running the real thing – the building becoming self-conscious.

Q: How much do architects need to see this as a process affecting the whole project lifecycle? RB: BIM not only helps us make those strategic decisions in the early stages and through a building’s life cycle, but also how you demolish and recycle the building. So we’re looking at updating the RIBA Outline Plan of Work to extend the process at the beginning and the end. In effect, to make the process less linear and more circular. “The RIBA needs to help the profession see that BIM is so much more than just software.”

Q: What part do you think standards and classifications and open standards will play in the future of BIM? PF: It’s hugely important – there needs to be a common way of describing elements of buildings and performance of buildings. If we have any discontinuity across those, we are prone to errors. RS: It’s a process in development. There’s a standard called COBie [see page 10], developed by the American defence department, to describe the information the client is given when they receive a building. RB: It’s not just the UK – there’s an international dimension too. The RIBA is involved in this, working with international standards groups as well, because this is an international business. Components come from all over the place, so it’s got to work worldwide.

Q: Is BIM as much a construction management as a modelling tool? PF: There is clear interest in the contracting community on the power of BIM. The co-ordination of the various trades that they get working in a BIM way gives them incredible savings that mitigates any of the so-called cost of implementation. That massive drive to use BIM will come from the 6 RIBA Chartered Practice Newsletter

large contractors because they have already realised, “This is brilliant.” Conversely, look at the profession’s current understanding of these things. Most people see BIM as CAD computer modelling and visualisations. And maybe, if you’re a bit clever, you might be able to produce a few drawings from it. That is a huge concern – how we shift that attitude. The RIBA needs to help the profession see that BIM is so much more than just software or any of the other so-called “BIM products” that are merely reinventions of CAD products with a few bolt-ons. It is all about information – the 3-D geometrical realisation of that information is but one part of it. COBie, as Richard Saxon mentioned, is actually a methodology. A very well structured methodology, that allows information to be contained and managed and understood by all parties involved. But there’s no geometry there whatsoever – it’s all about information. The profession needs to grasp that – as opposed to just creating abstract diagrams, which is what we’ve done for years. Specification counts for more than it ever did. RS: One of the things making the biggest difference to practices I know, is that they’re starting to use a library of preferred solutions. Instead of reinventing everything for every building, they’re capturing successful stuff and storing it. Laing O’Rourke recently won the contract to build 122 Leadenhall Street, London – the ‘Cheese-Grater’ – for British Land at only two thirds of the expected price. All rivals blown out of the water. BIM just takes away the risks. Because a large amount of what you quote for in the building is to cover the unknowns, contingency money to cover the incomplete information. PF: There was a study carried out in Australia, which showed that typically an architect will spend about 40% of their time on abortive work. Drawing details that someone will subsequently re-draw and then re-draw again to make them build-able. If you were to say we could take 40% of the cost of fee generation off your bottom line, would your margins look better? Simply, yes. “BIM just takes away the risks. Because a large amount of what you quote for in the building is to cover the unknowns, contingency money to cover the incomplete information.”

RS: Richard Rogers and Laing O’Rourke’s collaboration on Terminal 5 is a good example to use. While many will remember it for the baggagehandling fiasco that followed its opening, the project was in fact on time, on budget, everything snapped together. That was one of the first thorough examples of Building Information Modelling. It was early days; everyone had to move to the same building, because it had to be run on a Local Area Network. Rogers’ team always works with the same people – they know how to share 3-D models, they’ve done it for a very long time. Laing has a supply chain of subcontractors that it normally uses, many of whom it has subsequently bought. It’s that integration of the supply chain, where everyone

BIM – a round-table discussion (continued)

knows each other – that puts you well up the learning curve even before you start. “There is, quite possibly, a leveller playing field for practices of any scale to play a meaningful role. If they’re able to step up to the challenge and embrace the new ways of working.”

PF: Coming from a small practice – I’d like to say: many of the examples we’ve given are of large projects that could only ever involve large practice. Or could they? There is, quite possibly, a leveller playing field for practices of any scale to play a meaningful role. If they’re able to step up to the challenge and embrace the new ways of working. RB: The consistent message about BIM that’s coming through here, is that it’s so much greater than how it’s portrayed at the moment. It’s starting

at the top with big projects, but it will trickle down. There is significant investment needed by the whole industry in terms of time and money and up-skilling, but there are real benefits to be had from it. It’s a big number to get right – but one the profession really can’t afford to ignore. RS: RIBA used to be said to stand for: Remember, I’m The Bloody Architect. Now that should read: Really Integrated Building Authorship. RIBA Enterprises is running in the autumn a series of CPD BIM events. An RIBA Good Practice Guide to BIM is due to be published at the end of the year. RIBA South/South East presents ‘What is the case for adopting BIM?’, a half-day event on Building Information Modelling (BIM). Tuesday, 22 November, 2011. 1.45pm – 5.45pm, Holiday Inn Brighton Seafront. For full details and to book, email

BIM interview with Tom Jacques of Jacques Partnership

Q: Tell us a bit about the size and scope of Jacques Partnership Tom Jacques: We’ve been active since 2000. Much of our work is with existing and historic buildings – many of which are listed – rather than completely new builds. That said, we practice across a wide range of sectors – for private clients, schools, PFIs, the health and fitness sector, as well as plenty of small developers, commercial and office work. We also do strategic, site and masterplanning work. What unites everything we do is our ethos – working closely with clients, identifying and clarifying their building requirements and aspirations, and designing and implementing their project in relation to clear goals and targets. In-depth communication, efficient use of project resources, informed negotiation of the statutory and legislative framework, and effective management of time, quality, cost, and contracts, are central to our service. My partner is Robin, my father, who joined me from working as a planning inspector. He is an architect and academic and therefore, as you can imagine, an invaluable voice of experience and sounding board

Q: How do you promote yourselves? TJ: Mostly by word of mouth and personal recommendation. Our profile as an RIBA Chartered Practice brings in client enquiries – a recent update to our online entry certainly helped create more interest. We’ve also found that the Architect In The House scheme (the joint RIBA/Shelter initiative)

helps put us in front of the more unlikely clients – and often serves as a rather fun diversion! In addition, I sit on The Chippenham Vision board ( It’s a “SpecialPurpose Vehicle” – a slightly odd term, I know! – that represents a range of local authority and stakeholder groups. Originally set up by the local Chamber of Commerce – now supported by Wiltshire Council – to identify key aspirations for the town, to be pro-active in promoting the town and generally to champion regeneration and the quality of local design, development and town planning.

Q: What was your first acquaintance with BIM? Were you always interested in technological innovation in the workplace?

“Our profile as an RIBA Chartered Practice brings in client enquiries – a recent update to our online entry certainly helped create more interest.”

TJ: I like technology where it’s useful, rather than being a gadget junkie. But my first exposure to BIM was pretty early on. Back in 1989, as a student, I shattered my right collarbone playing lacrosse, so could no longer draw. I faced a fairly stark choice – learn to use one of too shiny new Macs just bought by the department (left-handed) or take the year again when I recovered. As you can imagine, it wasn’t too tough a decision! What it did mean, effectively, is that I spent the next year acting as a guinea pig for the school of architecture. Remember – this was before even 2-D CAD had taken off, and many practices were reluctant to make that jump until the early 90s recession. It was interesting, but also could be pretty frustrating. Systems were so much slower and a lot less evolved. But I was aware that ArchiCAD enabled me RIBA Chartered Practice Newsletter 7

BIM Interview (continued)

to work in a way more closely related to how I was thinking and designing than the CAD packages. So, rather than putting my thoughts into drawings which then would have to be translated into a building through dimensional and technical plans and sections, I was creating a more holistic model of a building and then extracting the information I needed. I continued using ArchiCAD as part of a suite of tools during my first and second degrees. However, throughout my first year placement in Hong Kong I had my first full exposure to industry-based CAD, all 2-D and a completely different experience. (Although at that time I was mostly still using pencil and paper, and telling a team of technicians what to draw in CAD.) By the time I worked in the UK in ’93, AutoCAD had become the industry standard. As far as I could see, this was entirely led by engineers, contractors and clients, with architects arriving late and being forced to fit in. I was unable to persuade employers to change. Some of the complaints I hear about architects being forced into BIM sound a little familiar.

Q: What were the challenges of your first BIM job?

Below: Early design development models showing different views for discussion, all based on the same information which will ultimately be used as the design progresses.

TJ: Probably extracting information in the most meaningful and useful form. Relearning to use a significantly improved and altered software, and breaking habits which came with the use of 2-D CAD took some commitment. (There is a comfort in 2-D CAD in that you put in what you print out, so you can see it straight away. However, the focus is in producing a drawing, not in resolving the building. This is ultimately wasteful and misdirected.) An issue in early years of using BIM was how to communicate with other consultants, information both in and out. But now that’s not so much the case – even if you do have to convert to pdf or 2-D CAD to send information out.

Some of the projects we undertake use contractors who have enough trouble with e-mail, let alone compatible CAD packages. BIM output is more flexible for even these situations. The information you extract can be tailored to the audience and purpose. Many engineers we work with do not have the capacity yet, so we incorporate their design information into the model. One slight drawback is the temptation to go into more detail than is necessary at any particular point, prettying the model to make it look better – even if this isn’t the strict purpose at that stage. But, to be honest, we architects always run the risk of getting caught up in the joy of it, creatively. We really need to focus on what’s needed, and how we can communicate best with the information users, so as to raise the right questions throughout the process. Because that’s the approach that’s most likely to result in a successful outcome. “By the time we emerge from this recession, virtually all practices will have BIM, in the same way that from the last recession virtually all practices had CAD. They will need it to be competitive.”

Q: How many of your projects are working with BIM or entirely BIM centered? TJ: They all use BIM to different degrees, depending on the information we need. We’re so used to ArchiCAD + BIMx, it’s simply become the main tool, and our judgement about how to get the most effective use from it is fairly well tuned. The beauty of it is that you just input once, rather than having to do it three or more times over. Changes are made to the model and are reflected in the drawings set up, they can be made in plan, elevation, schedule and 3-D and checked in other views. Clashes can be detected, thermal performance modeled, specialist information sought and inputted, and clients informed and consulted, all with basically the same core information. Producing 2-D drawings for planning, production information and other purposes from the model often still needs some refinement individually, but you have continual cross reference, and we are familiar with what is most effectively input at each level.

Q: Are you now BIM-led inasmuch as you only do or only want to do projects that use the BIM way of working? TJ: We use BIM as a core but we don’t practice to use BIM. BIM is an important part of a range of tools we draw on – but that range still includes the pencil and layout pad. In fact, I use hand drawings scanned into a BIM package for presentation, and use pencil and paper within the design process, often using BIM-sourced drawings as a base. Often roughness of presentation helps represent the preliminary nature of the ideas being discussed. That said, we could still get more from it as manufacturers add their products to libraries for quick insertion, and as it becomes possible to share 8 RIBA Chartered Practice Newsletter

BIM Interview (continued)

Q: What are the pros and cons of BIM for a small practice like yours? TJ: Having spent years with 2-D CAD, with all its attendant frustrations, I felt it was essential to spend on ArchiCAD + BIMx from the beginning of our practice. While it still isn’t that easy to find staff who can already use it fluently and in practice, let’s face it, anything that lessens the repetitiveness of your production tasks and the risk of inconsistency has to be a good thing. And it keeps improving – sometimes a bit too regularly as we need to keep adapting to new releases – but each has so far been worth it. Whether your practice consists of one person or several, if you can be more efficient and effective, you’re inevitably providing a better service, with less risk, for the time (and money) you and your clients are spending. In a certain light, you might think that to proselytize about BIM means slightly to lose some of one’s competitive edge. But as a way of working, it is so much more useful. So why would you not?

Far left: Two different views of the same model, used to communicate completely different relationships, ensuring consistency and reducing risk. The timber structure can be organised into schedules if required. Below left: Modelling to both resolve and then illustrate a complex set of relationships for a glazed sliding rooflight for an existing building.

information in compatible BIM formats rather than converting in and out. It’s already happening, and at an increasing rate. I’m interested in progress NBS is making in this direction, and will be interested to see NBS Create when it emerges, although there is already some co-ordination with ArchiCAD. By the time we emerge from this recession, virtually all practices will have BIM, in the same way that from the last recession virtually all practices had CAD. They will need it to be competitive. The BIM way of working is fundamentally compatible with the way we work as architects. It makes it easier, not more difficult.

Q: What does BIM mean to your clients? TJ: BIM as a term and an idea, in and of itself, very little! But in practical application, a great deal. It helps us to explain the whole process and what they can expect to get. In short, they see more from us, and earlier. And, when they do, they are much better able to understand what’s presented to them – they don’t have to learn to “read” drawings, as they did previously. It can give them courage to go beyond their comfort zone, because they can better see and understand the possibilities. We don’t often go to the stage of producing photorealistic models because that’s an additional process and cost – and can be more to do with sales and promotion. We use 3-D visualizations of the model more as a design tool, work-in-progress props and in client communication. In essence, we want the client to have a clear understanding of what we’re producing and how that responds to and informs their brief. All the client wants is to feel more confident about what they’re seeing and getting. For all this the BIM approach really helps.

Joined-up thinking: connecting relevant information in BIM New web technologies are giving architects and designers greater access to the increasing amount of relevant information available throughout the design and procurement process. The RIBA Technical Research Department, along with University Arts London, has secured funding from the Technology Strategy Board to investigate the application of Semantic Web (‘the web done right’) and linked data principles in the BIM lifecycle. This is just a part of the BIM work being carried out by the RIBA, and we want you to help by sharing your experiences and expectations of using BIM; contact us at or join the conversation on the RIBA Communities at:

RIBA Chartered Practice Newsletter 9

“The idea behind COBie is that the key information is all pulled into one format and shared between the construction team at defined stages in a project.”

What is COBie? by Dr Stephen Hamil, Director of Design and Innovation and Head of Building Information Modelling at NBS In June 2011 the UK Government published its Building Information Modelling (BIM) Working Party Strategy. This report announced the Government's intention to require collaborative 3-D BIM (with all project and asset information, documentation and data being electronic) on its projects by 2016. The software and data requirements for this detailed in the report are Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBie). In this article, Stephen Hamil examines COBie and discusses the role of CAD and master specification systems in creating this data model. This article is aimed at construction professionals who work on Government projects and clients in the private sector interested in this approach.

The data inside a COBie spreadsheet In a typical construction project the information about the building is contained in drawings, bills of quantities and specifications. A number of construction professionals normally collaborate to put this documentation together. The documentation should then be updated through the construction phase and handed to the client. In reality, this does not always happen, or when it does, the documentation is supplied in a format such as PDF or paper that makes it very difficult for the client to use. The idea behind COBie is that the key information is all pulled into one format and shared between the construction team at defined stages in a project. Nick Nisbet, the co-author of the COBie2 format, says: “The argument that drives the demand for COBIe is the management of ‘space usage’, ‘operations’, ‘cost and environmental impacts’, ‘repair’ and ‘replacement’. In short, better value, cost and carbon.” Mark Bew, the co-chair of the team that authored the strategy paper, states why improved construction data is essential: “The strategy is all about using BIM and re-usable information to enable cost and carbon reduction. COBie is simply the exposure and exchange format we have selected for nongraphical data at level 2 [see Figure below]. The reasons for selection were pragmatics around cost, availability and forward compatibility with IFC to start the process of building a useful built asset legacy dataset.”

Introduction What did Paul Morrell, Chief Government Construction Advisor, mean when he said “For the first year, the total software requirement is Excel” when discussing the Government’s commitment to BIM on construction projects at the NBS BIM Roundtable? He was talking about COBie – a spreadsheet data format that contains digital information about a building in as complete and as useful a form as possible. In short, COBie is a Building Information Model (BIM). An exact definition of COBie is included in Appendix 10 on page 59 of the Strategy Paper for the Government Construction Client Group, published in March 2011. An Implementation and Mobilisation Task Group is now establishing how the COBie methodology can be tailored for Government requirements. Looking further at this strategy paper it reads: “5.5 Improved Information Handover in order to improve the measurement and management of public assets, it is recommended that public clients request that specific information be delivered by the supply chain. The specified information set, called COBie, delivers consistent and structured asset information useful to the owner-operator for postoccupancy decision-making.” COBie was developed by a number of US public agencies to improve the handover process to building owner-operators. It is, typically, a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, but other spreadsheet applications may be used. Figure: The Bew-Richards BIM Maturity Model

Level 0

NBS and COBie COBie is a collaborative effort: no one professional or trade organization will have all the information, so cut-and-paste is the minimum skill. However, at NBS, our new master specification product for the UK is embracing BIM and interoperability to open standards. It is being “built for BIM”. So, for release later this year, there will be an option to export to a format that can be easily added to a COBie spreadsheet. This ensures that information from the specification and preliminaries models can be added quickly and accurately to a spreadsheet for the client. By providing this export functionality from NBS, a huge amount of data can be incorporated on a COBie spreadsheet by those using NBS to write their project specifications.

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3


CAD Drawings, lines, arcs, text, etc

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CPIC AVANTI BS 1192: 2007 User Guide: CPIC Avanti, BSI



Lifecycle Management


ISO BIM ©2008/10 Bew – Richards

Models, objects, collaboration Integrated, Interoperable Data

RIBA Initiatives

RIBA Conferences 2011

Don’t miss out on a place at our innovative and informative conferences this autumn. Four events take place across the UK on specific current issues and policy direction, bringing together high-profile speakers and key experts with RIBA members, built environment professionals, local authorities, construction specifiers, public agencies and partners. The conferences provide knowledge and skills, facilitate business development and competitive advantage, and broaden networks and prospects, around the following themes: • Housing: Creating designs for life 13 October, Robinson College, Cambridge

Robinson College, Cambridge

Assembly Rooms, Newcastle

Watershed, Bristol

• Planning and Localism: Whose design is it anyway? 4 November, Assembly Rooms, Newcastle • Guerrilla Tactics for Small Practice 9-10 November, RIBA, London • Low Carbon Design: The power to deliver change 22 November, Watershed Media Centre, Bristol

To find out more and book your place visit

HomeWise The RIBA campaign for better homes has just launched. The campaign, HomeWise, gave us the opportunity to engage directly with consumers and aims to seek changes to the way homes are built, helping to make a real difference to the quality of life for anyone buying or renting a new home. The RIBA took the campaign to all three party conferences in autumn 2011 through a series of fringe events that featured high-profile guests debating whether the need to increase the quantity of homes means sacrificing quality. To find out more about HomeWise visit RIBA President, Angela Brady and the HomeWise campaign at the 2011 Lib Dem Party Conference

RIBA CPD Providers Network Roadshows Want to gain a full day’s worth of RIBA CPD? Join us for a unique opportunity to gain up-to-date knowledge and enhance your personal proficiency on a wide range of subjects, as well as earning CPD points from some of the top companies in their fields. All of the sessions are accredited under the RIBA Core Curriculum in Construction Skills, Practice Management, Professional Context, Managing Projects and Health and Safety. Roadshows take place across the country over the next few months in: • Cardiff, 20 October • Edinburgh, 3 November • Leeds, 17 November • Brighton, 24 November • London, 1 December

September’s CPD Roadshow in London. Photo by Michael Duckworth

Each session lasts for an hour and you can book as many as five sessions throughout the day. Attendance is free. To book your place simply visit RIBA Chartered Practice Newsletter 11

Culture and events

Autumn 2011 talks, exhibitions and awards at 66 Portland Place

From David Adjaye to Art Deco photographs, enjoy a bumper season of RIBA talks and exhibitions taking place this autumn. Booking is open for all of our Tuesday evening talks, with a range of speakers to cater for every interest. In addition, Tuesday evening sees 66 Portland Place open late throughout the season for you to enjoy our exhibition galleries, restaurant, bar and Library. 11 October, sees the opening event of the ‘Architecture Open’ exhibition in Gallery 1, showcasing work by RIBA London architects from all sides of the profession. The aim is to demonstrate the wide variety of approaches taken to conceptualising and developing ideas, and to give an equal platform to both well- and lesser known practices. The first of a series of four talks on Cities of Tomorrow brings together a series of perspectives of the changing landscape of large-city growth around the world – acknowledging the fact that by 2020 only four of the 20 largest cities and urban areas will be in the current ‘developed nations’. The first talk on 18 October will profile Sao Paolo in Brazil, with upcoming Brazilian practices MMBB and ARKIZ. On Tuesday 25 October we take a look – both affectionate and quizzical – at the legacy of Postmodernism. Timed to coincide with the V&A exhibition Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970-1990, a panel of speakers including Terry Farrell, Piers Gough, Sean Griffiths and others will consider the movement’s lasting impact on architecture and design in the UK. The Cities of Tomorrow series continues on 1 November with Richard Rogers and his partners Graham Stirk and Ivan Harbour giving their take on the role of the sustainable city in the 21st century and how design affects the way we live.

On Tuesday 8 November Thomas Heatherwick will be speaking for the first time at the RIBA, giving the 2011 RIBA Lecture. The annual RIBA Lecture gives an eminent non-architect the opportunity to explore a theme that challenges the profession and Thomas, as one of Britain’s leading designers, explores the blurring of boundaries between architecture and design, asking ‘When does design become architecture?’. Art Deco and the Age of Glamour in Britain is the focus of ‘Putting on the Glitz’, an exhibition of 100 images drawn from the British Architectural Library photographic collection (until 26 Nov). Robert Elwall, exhibition curator, leads a discussion exploring the significance of Britain’s golden age of Art Deco architecture, 15 November. David Adjaye adds his voice to the Cities of Tomorrow series on 22 November, focusing on the African continent’s diverse metropolitan architecture. And to round off the cities series on 29 November architect and urbanist Jan Gehl will look at the need for people-inspired interventions in city development, using Copenhagen and New York as case studies. And finally, on Tuesday 6 December, the annual Jencks Award is given this year to renowned Culver City architect Eric Owen Moss, who for over 30 years has evolved a unique local grammar of architecture, showing a commitment to place and character that is rare if not unique. Together with other exhibitions on Emerging Architecture 2011, the President’s Medals 2011 and Pavilion of Protest: the cost of architectural education we hope that you will be able to enjoy this bumper season at 66 Portland Place. For full details, including all events taking place across the country, go to

Morris House, Stewart and Ardern Limited car showroom and service station, Staines. Architectural Press Archive / RIBA Library Photographs Collection

This newsletter is printed on 100% recycled Forest Stewardship Certified stock using vegetable-based inks

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RIBA Chartered Practice Newsletter Autumn 2011  
RIBA Chartered Practice Newsletter Autumn 2011  

RIBA Chartered Practice Newsletter Autumn 2011