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New Approaches in Planning

Building Information Modeling (BIM)

What is behind the idea of »Building Information Modeling«?

Not very much, in fact this idea is not really that new. For decades, no new models have been developed in the automotive industry without all the design and construction issues being simulated, tested and decided on the computer before the first stroke of real work is done – right down to the smallest screw. It really only involves transferring individual planning stages, collision checks, calculations, etc., into the virtual world of the computer. If we apply this to architects, it means instead of having to present a building in different, individual plans and describe it in a manifold of documents and descriptive texts as was the case previously, a highly detailed and comprehensive model is created on the computer, which then forms the basis for all subsequent decisions and documents such as plans, specifications and calculations, etc. Of course, that is something of an over-simplification, and the shift to the same level of detail as in other industries will not take place in the foreseeable future. However, the direction has clearly been set. The key advantage is the creation of a more detailed design at a significantly earlier stage in the planning. This provides the opportunity for extensive optimisation of the planning; potential misunderstandings between clients and architects, critical planning situations, general difficulties and sometimes also planning errors can be identified on the virtual model and resolved where necessary without any major additional costs. Correcting a digital model is also much more cost effective than rectifying a defect on the building site.

When will BIM become mandatory?
For years there have been strong initiatives (including from the state), for example in Scandinavia, the Netherlands and Great Britain, to make these model-based planning methods the standard. In the UK, it will be mandatory for the planning of large public buildings from the beginning of 2016. However, the »BIM train« has now also arrived in Germany. In January of this year, leading German associations and institutions from the fields of planning, construction and operation, including the Federal Chamber of German Architects and the Association of German Architects (BDA), formed the »planen-bauen 4.0 – Gesellschaft zur Digitalisierung des Planens, Bauens und Betreibens mbH« (German association for the digitalisation of planning, building and operation).

How will it change the planning process?
With the BIM process, more of the important decisions are made in the very early planning stages. On the one hand, transferring to BIM requires more work from the architects at an earlier point in the planning than is currently the case with the German fee scale for architects and engineers (HOAI). On the other hand, in a good BIM model, many more building components should be used that are actually available from real manufacturers with defined properties than merely placeholders from an »electronic Rotring template« that is provided as a library with every CAD program as standard. Many manufacturers of building materials and products, such as Schüco, have therefore already invested a great deal into making their products available to developers in digital form (see also the BIMobject.com portal). The advantages of the BIM planning process for all those involved in the different phases of a building through to its use or demolition are undisputed nowadays. How the position of architects and the way they work in Germany will change over the next few years will become clear in the near future. What is important is that all those involved engage with the subject and gather the necessary experience. This is the only way to prevent development moving in an undesirable direction. However, the first steps have been taken with the foundation of planen-bauen 4.0.

Various BIM solutions