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Systematically integrating processes and tools - Plan.One architecture

Trained in the fields of architecture, product design and civil engineering, Patric de Hair is a founding partner of Plan.One ccs GmbH and head of the Digital Innovation Lab at Schüco. Profile met him in Berlin to talk about the new platform Plan.One.

Interview with Patrick de Hair, founding partner of Plan.One ccs GmbH

PROFILE: Plan.One forms an interface between digital planning in architecture and the manufacturers of building products. What are the benefits exactly?

Patric de Hair: Plan.One architecture is a product search engine. We offer software add-ons for all of the current BIM planning systems. During the planning phase, the architect does not yet know which manufacturer they will use to be able to construct the individual components of their building. Initially, they design the units and define specific requirements – such as the fire protection class or burglar resistance for a door. With the Plan.One button, you have the ability to search our manufacturer- neutral database for products which feature all of these technical properties. Gone are the days of poring over product catalogues or searching on the internet: a click of the mouse provides a list of product suggestions sorted by relevance or best-fit. This search is optimised based on construction projects which have already been carried out, the user behaviour of other developers and therefore a type of user evaluation.

PROFILE: What else does the system offer?

Patric de Hair: In addition to the technical product properties, all of the downloads provided by a manufacturer are also made available, such as specification texts. We also display reference projects which are similar to the planned building. There is also the option to contact the manufacturer, for whom all of the information has already been pre-entered. Last but not least, there is the ability to integrate the specific product data directly into the digital building model.

PROFILE: Are there also details that canʹt be represented in your tool?

Patric de Hair: Yes – not everything is a standard product. If something is geometrically very complex or has unusual dimensions you wouldnʹt find anything in our system. For this type of situation, a search is made for manufacturers who are involved in creating special solutions. In this instance, Plan.One will offer a contact or suggest a system which is similar to the selected requirements. A special solution can then be constructed from that basis. However, we are also looking further ahead. For example, for this type of scenario, specialist developers who are implementing the relevant designs could be suggested.

PROFILE: In other words, networking the developers together?

Patric de Hair: Exactly. Who is the right façade developer for each project? Which structural engineer is most suitable? However, this is an area for which we have already made technical provisions, but which we have not yet brought to life.

Interview with Guido Höfert Architekt, HHS Architekten

PROFILE: Which areas of the Schüco exhibition stand have interested you in particular?

Guido Höfert: I have used the time to concentrate on the new Plan.One platform. BIM and the digital planning chain are becoming more and more important for our company. We would like to position ourselves clearly here. The exhibition and the Schüco stand are great inspiration for this.

PROFILE: Why are BIM and digital planning so important for you at the moment?

Guido Höfert: It should be possible to configure components while being certain they are available on the market. That is essential for me. This is because, as an architect, you often fall into the trap of designing functions which are not offered by the available construction products. Or youʹre stuck in a predicament where certain approvals do not exist. It would be really practical to be able to avoid this from the outset by using a configurator.
Furthermore, the combination of specific qualities is extremely important to us. For example, combining climate protection and fire protection in one product. This may become easier in the future using digital systems like Plan.One.

PROFILE: How much does BIM already shape work at HHS?

Guido Höfert: We have to deal with it and prepare ourselves for the digital change. That is part of our companyʹs strategy. It involves training employees, making them aware and setting up BIM specifically for one or two projects. We are in constant contact with various specialist planners who also work with BIM methods. You simply need to start, to face the issue.

PROFILE: Where do you see potential for digital planning and where is analogue planning still important?

Guido Höfert: I think weʹre still at the beginning. Iʹm really enthusiastic about the topic – for me, the fact that we now have a digital building and data model is the right development. The next step, i.e. moving from the model to the fabrication processes, would be fantastic. This vision exists and there are initial completed projects in completely different branches of industry. Bringing it to the trades, however, is much more difficult. And then using the digital interface on the building site, in the building process – thatʹ s definitely a challenge.

Interview with Cornelius Buhl und Dafni Filippa

PROFILE: Our living environment is becoming increasingly digitalised. Ms Filippa, Mr Buhl, what do you as students think of this development?

Cornelius Buhl: For me, digitalisation is positive in principle. Its impact can also be felt on my course of study. We draw exclusively on the computer. On the one hand, this is good because it is much quicker to try out different things and make changes, for example, to the floor plan. On the other hand, we no longer learn how to draw properly ourselves. We only drew by hand in the first two semesters. But digitalisation opens up completely different worlds.

PROFILE: Do you also work with BIM objects on your course?

Dafni Filippa: Yes. In the 3rd semester we now have to go into greater detail and therefore also work more with CAD. Over the last 20 years, technology has improved and developed so much that we have many different and many more opportunities. Despite that, an architect must still be able to draw by hand! Sketching is very important. We have learned that too. I believe that you lose your grounding when you cannot master traditional tools.

Interview with Joachim Rind Architekt, Naujack.Rind.Hof

PROFILE: Do you use BIM?

Joachim Rind: For each project, we immediately start to form a planning community with the building services, the structural design and the building physics. We then combine these disciplines with our ideas on the computer. We have been using a platform like this for a long time. Three-dimensionality is a new part of this. We have been planning buildings in 3D for years. However, not all specialist engineers do this. This is why it always results in complications.

PROFILE: It is hotly debated whether or not BIM should be considered a special service. Whatʹs your view?

Joachim Rind: Well, in theory, we could indeed outsource this service. BIM is essentially what a project manager has been doing up to now in large projects, more or less well. BIM is supposed to solve all of this now. However, BIM is not the magic wand which makes everything a success. Itʹs still about the quality of the developers and engineers who operate a system and mutually contribute to the success of a construction project. In my opinion, there is still a lack of extensive and constructive discussion of the issue. There is also a lack of discussion surround ing the reward of BIM as a special service.

PROFILE: What other obstacles do you see?

Joachim Rind: Many small design offices are failing because they cannot afford the equipment. However, not only is it difficult to acquire the technical equipment, purchasing additional technology and keeping it up-to-date is also a huge cost factor. To return once again to your original question: yes, we are working with it, we will not avoid BIM. It is a development that cannot be stopped. However, I doubt that BIM is suitable for every building project. There are also very small, straightforward construction tasks. For the large, complex tasks, however, it will surely be a model that will become standard in future.

What interested you most of all today?

»I think Plan.One is innovative. We use BIM a great deal for our designs and this platform would be a great supplement. The inclusion of the fabricator is interesting. If we make changes to the façade, for example, if we move a window, then everything is recorded directly. We have the exact measurements and amounts that we require, and the fabricator can further process it directly.«

André Tülp, Architect, dt+p Dorkowski, Tülp und Partner, Bremen/DE

Photos: Schüco International KG and Frank Peterschröder