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Digitising the construction industry

Building Information Modelling (BIM) brings construction into the digital age. BIM is the structured creation, sharing, use and re-use of digital information about a building or built asset throughout its entire lifecycle. This involves the use of coordinated 3D design models enriched with data that are created and managed using a range of interoperable technologies.

By 2016 the UK government requires all publicly-funded construction projects to feature collaborative 3D BIM. The ambition is to reduce by 20 per cent the capital cost and the carbon burden from the construction and operation of the built environment.

Northumbria University is an internationally recognised centre of excellence for BIM. Research carried out here has helped to generate the empirical evidence base for the financial and efficiency savings to be found in a much more collaborative approach to construction projects. Researchers have applied their knowledge to develop software, toolkits, best practice and training to aid the industry’s uptake of BIM.

BIM gathers and applies digital data from every stage of construction to ensure a smooth, efficient transaction from one phase to the next. It also provides a life-cycle overview where architects, engineers and project and facilities managers can achieve a fully-rounded picture of, not only how a build is progressing and the impact of any modifications, but how that building will behave and hold up to different environmental challenges throughout its life-cycle.

BIM Academy is an innovative joint venture between the University and Ryder Architecture to support the construction industry in using BIM as a catalyst for collaborative working. It is impartial and industry-facing, undertaking research, consultancy, software development, outreach and training. BIM Academy works closely in the UK with industry bodies such as RIBA Enterprises and the Government’s BIM Task Group.

BIM Academy’s knowledge leadership has been recognised internationally, winning both the Build Qatar Live and Build Sydney Live competitions. In 2013, Professor Lockley of the Academy was invited to sit on the panel of experts advising Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority on adopting BIM.

One of the Academy’s most high profile achievements is the creation and authoring of the National Building Specification’s (NBS) award-winning National BIM Library, a free-to-use resource of standard BIM content. The National BIM Library allows access to digital standard objects such as walls, windows and doors. This saves time re-creating them digitally for each version of the plans and ensures industry standards are met. NBS’s services and products are used by thousands of professionals in the construction and property industry on a daily basis.

Professor David Philp of the Government’s BIM Task Group, says of BIM Academy: “It is an effective route to disseminating results, effecting technological and organisational change and influencing the uptake of BIM in the UK and beyond. Through application and example it is highly supportive of the Government’s stated ambitions for transforming the UK construction industry through innovation.”

Additional Information
BIM Academy
National BIM Library
The xBIM Toolkit


Case studies

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