Why not just stick with Uniclass 1.4…..for now?

So, I have mentioned this to a few people recently and don’t seem to of been shot down so I thought I would put it out there.

It seems to be common knowledge that the currently the Uniclass 2 proposals for classification are not quite as complete as we all hoped they would be. It is easy to criticise the proposals (and I have done myself) but let’s be fair, this creation, organisation and publication of a structured data format is onerous, time consuming and as we all know never going to be able to please everyone. The classic, dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t scenario.

In light of this and the fact that the BIM Task Group are looking to finalise the definitive requirements for Level 2 BIM Maturity toward the first quarter of next year I pose a question…

Why not just stick with Uniclass 1.4 legacy version for now? By this I mean; make Uniclass 1.4 the classification structure that is used to achieve mandated Level 2 BIM Maturity.

The impression to me is that most of the industry may or may not have used Uniclass 1.4 or in fact a proper classification system to date and this may be an opportunity to introduce classification in a way that is a lot easier to understand and implement than perhaps Uniclass 2 that is a bit more daunting.

Other upsides i see of using the legacy version of Uniclass is of course the current guise of COBie-UK. It is based against it and certainly in conjunction with it and IFC we are able to produce COBie outputs that should meet the Level 2 deliverable requirements.

This step back and re-evaluation of the classification structure required for Level 2 could provide a chance for Uniclass 2 to continue to be developed with the time and consideration it needs and deserves rather than rushing something out.

I do appreciate there may be downsides to this approach also and what firstly comes to mind is the link between Uniclass 2 and NRM as highlighted in the PAS1192 but I am certainly no QS and as such can’t comment on the way that Uniclass 1.4 or Uniclass 2 links with estimation and costing tools.

I’m sure there’s are others and would be interested in opening this up to comments and some common sense debate!

Anyway, just my ramblings as always….


BIM saved me…. could it save you too?

I never wanted to be an Architect. The irony is that I am still not an Architect – I’m stuck somewhere half way through my Part 3 and about to embark on a new chapter of my life, but this is my choice and I have BIM to thank for that.

You might find that a strange thing to say, but in all honesty, I just ‘fell’ into Architecture; My A-levels suited the job description and after a visit to the oh too cliche Sydney Opera house and a panic that I had to ‘make’ something of my self, off to uni I went.

I never had a passion for Architecture really. I mean, I do like Architecture, but its never ran through my veins per say. I remember at Uni wishing I could be like all those students who knew every Architect, every building they produced and philosophy behind them, but alas it was never to be. I muddled my way through and came out the end with a not too shabby degree.

As I went into practice, I still wasn’t totally sure that the Architecture lark was for me, but I persisted, and boy am I glad I did. BIM came to the fore for me at a time when I was starting to become a little bit frustrated at the process of “building”. The constant breakdown in communications, ever moving goal posts, the un-transparency of the industry but to name a few. It all just became a grind; did I really want to become an Architect? There seemed to be no method to the madness…

Now I don’t expect BIM to resolve all of my frustrations over night, but it really has given me clarity when it comes to my profession choice. I have truly believe that BIM can bring order to the chaos and with it I hope produce remarkable results as we strive towards a digital UK.

I have come to the conclusion that BIM is my passion. It must be, I wouldn’t be writing this now (on my holiday!), spending countless evenings on twitter discussing documents, protocols, classification structures and looking for those few hours at the weekend to try and mess around with mapping BIM authoring software to COBie!

This is what has been missing from Architecture for me and in turn where BIM has done me a huge favour. I am a technical minded at heart (perhaps I should of been a arch technologist!) and BIM (currently) allows me to mess around with the ‘inner’ workings of things. It allows me to deliver solutions to people on so many fronts. It could be a technical solution that allows architects to work much more efficiently. It could be a people solution that allows teams to collaborate freely. Ultimately, the way I see it, is that through these solutions they will allow us to create buildings rather than just build them in the future.

With BIM the building process is no longer just design team focused. It is all encompassing, a project team focus where lines are blurred between traditional consultants and periphery parties that collide in a more integrated and controlled manner. It allows people to take ownership of a project on a much more vested level, rather than something that is in front of them one minute and forgotten about the next.

Although I am not an Architect (and may never be), I hope that whatever role I play in the BIM process going forward in the industry that I will be actively and fundamentally involved in the real creation of buildings.

I see my job in BIM currently as a facilitator of solutions; to provide the right information and the right time to the people who need it. Personally I think, Architect’s (or similar) don’t need to bogged down with the IFC schema inner workings, quite frankly they don’t care, they would rather being doing what they have a passion for, designing and as such to use a phrase my good friend and former colleague Neil Marshal (@NeilTDB) taught me “not everyone needs to know everything, they just need to know where to find it”.

To provide an analogy, for example; I know the law (that is what is right or wrong) but i don’t know the law – that’s what a lawyer is for. I like to think of my role as that person for BIM.

There has been so much talk about accreditation and job titles recently in the industry. I wholeheartedly agree that BIM should become part of a person’s everyday role, but at this point it may just not quite be possible. If accreditation does anything for us, it may allows us the time to educate and implement BIM as a culture so people subconsciously adopt going forwards.

Who knows, somewhere in the future there might be someone at uni studying the buildings of this digital age and asking, who was the information manager, what was their philosophy and what role did they play in the process…I can only hope.

Vectorworks 2014 Annual Conference & BIM Workshop 02/10/13

So what seems like a crazy few weeks in the world of BIM and Vectorworks culminated in The Design Buro Architects having a visit from the guys at Vectorworks in the USA, but also me giving a presentation at the Vectorworks BIM Workshop that followed the annual conference in the morning.

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Even though we as a practice have historically used Vectorworks for over 15 years, ever since it was MiniCAD, it is the first time we have attend these events – hopefully we will attend more in the future!


I think I may of been the only person tweeting from both the conference and the BIM workshop proper on the day, so rather than provide a full blog on the day, I will let the Storify tell the tale;


All in all a fantastic day and a big thank you to Vectorworks and Computers Unlimited to facilitating the two days. It was an honour not only to play hos to Vectorworks for a day but to also present in respect of our flag ship BIM project.


Heres to next year!

Amtech BIM Seminar – Donnigton Park

Much like my internal work blog posts aren’t the same if they don’t feature BIM, a external BIM blog post won’t be the same if I don’t mention the weather. Suffice to say, it was raining. After weeks of sun, the prospect of a BIM event at Donington Park on the opening day of the British Super Bike weekend was very inviting. Nonetheless though, regardless of the weather, the event proved to be extremely enjoyable. The seminar, “The Truth About BIM” fronted by Gary Ross, Director of BIM at Amtech Group and West Midlands CIC BIM Hub Champion proved to be a blunt (his own words!) view of the current truths and myths surrounding BIM.

Storify of the event here

Just to note, the next Amtech Group “Crystal BIM” Event will be held on 24/25th March 2014 – Check @AmtechGroup website for details

Manufacturers and BIM – SME Focused

Following some recent debate on twitter as to whether manufacturing SMEs should receive government funding in respect of BIM implementation, 140 characters was just not enough to get down what I wanted to say and thus this blog post was put together. I would welcome your thoughts and comments.

Original twitter debate here: https://twitter.com/AlexDNesbitt/status/378168442924187648


See that’s the problem not all manufacturers need to be authoring product content but rather I would argue that to meet the BIM level 2 2016 deliverable (COBie) they need to be structuring their existing and forthcoming product data in aforementioned format. Certainly as an Architect when producing design intent models I want content that is generic to attach intelligent structured manufactures data to, this provides design and specification flexibility, leading towards the development of the Virtual Construction Model.

I would hope that this organisation of data from manufactures would not cost circa £20k (admittedly ballpark figure on suggested) but may provide more fruitful return on investment for the manufacture than authoring product content. With this is mind I do understand there is a need for authored production content at certain points within the delivery of a BIM project Eg. post contractor engagement or pre approved client products, but at this point in time manufacturers and in particular SMEs need to be doing all they can to get ahead of the game. Not only to be on contractors supply chains going forward but for the longevity of their business.

As highlighted, the way to do this is via structured data. This ensures that no matter what, regardless of the level of detail of the graphical representation of the product they can ensure that their data is available for use and ultimately provide valuable FM asset information for the client. Lets not forget to quote Ed Bartlett of KyKloud,  “Fm keeps the data alive”.

For me, graphical representation of content, the LOD (Level of Detail) if you like, can come later from manufacturers as I already have enough generic components to see me through for the time being, but rather the data representation of these, the LO (Level of Information) needs to be addressed now ready to meet demand going forward.

Taking a step back from the politics of file formats and interoperability (something I strongly believe in) what I say next isn’t said lightly! If for instance, there came a need for an SME to provide a detailed graphical representation of their product, say for client visualisation or similar then I’d wager that it wouldn’t cost much (if at all anything if done by oneself) to curate some detailed content in Sketch Up, Blender, Rhino or the plethora of other free/ very low cost (in the context of BIM) 3D modelling software.

As BIM enthusiasts (I suggest most of you reading this are/will be) we are very good at work arounds, and any decent BIM manager etc will probably have a work flow for utilising those objects in their practises native authoring software. For example, only recently Rob Jackson of Bond Bryan Architects @BondBryan (infamous in the #UKBIMCrew community and at the forefront of information exchange work flows) demonstrated Sketch Up to ArchiCAD content use. I see no reason why this work flow cannot be adapted for other authoring software; in fact I will follow this post with an attempt at a simplified workflow for Vectorworks.


Essentially what I’m saying is, don’t let BIM bite you, start now with whatever resources you can – don’t delay your adoption of BIM due to the ‘barriers’ of cost that are thrown around. They are plenty of things that you can be doing now to get you ahead of the competition.

Architectural Instagram Facadism

So I recently began using Instagram. I know I know, I should of got with the program and been using it for years, but I just didn’t, OK!  As I’m sure many of you have, I have now started apply filters to everything and anything that gets I’m the way of my phones camera lens.

I know quite a few people have opinions about the use of instigram and such like filters on images, but for me, someone who is in noe way shape or form a photographer of any kind, it has spurred my want to take photos on my travels as I personally think you can get some great results with some simple post processing.

Recently I have noticed that I have been taking lots of pictures of architectural facades. In light of this I wanted to show some of the photos I had taken.





This self gratification of imagery through architectural facadism led me to wonder if there were any other budding #AIF (as I shall now coin it – all cool things need a hashtag right?) fans out there. To my surprise, there were. A quick search of the term ‘facade’ gave 93,000 results. I was going to have to refine my search technique. Fortunately, the instagram app shows similar search terms to your original search. First up; ‘facadeporn’ 567 results, this won’t disappoint…….

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#All_Shots #allshots_arch_apr13

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Next up, ‘facadelovers’

And then I found it. The absolute nirvana of facade imagery; none of this jaunty angled rubbish i had been taking but rather pure unaltered straight façades!

I haven’t tagged my images with anything yet. Perhaps #AIF is not the right tag. I think I will stick mine under #facadeporn…….. or if I can manage to keep the phone still next time I am out one may even go under #straightfacades

NOTE: I recently found out that ‘facadism’ is the art of demolishing an existing building apart from its main facade(s) and building another in behind it. I didn’t know this. If you google for it, there are some horrendous examples!

BIM Open Mic Night Ramblings – 05.08.13

Another train, another trip to London; it was raining as normal – it even rained on me on the train as the roof panel above my seat was leaking…it was turning out to be a great evening already. Alas, I should not of worried as the free beer and food made up for the weather, oh and of course the evening of BIM related discussions that followed…

For those who had the minerals, unlike me, the BIM Open Mic night, hosted at Arups London by Casey Rutland (@CaseyRutland) provided the invaluable opportunity to speak freely about BIM in an environment where everyone was there for the same reason.

Too often I see presentations at events that gloss over the cracks of BIM, and this event provided the chance to air your opinions about what does and doesn’t work for you.  This is needed if the industry it to organically grow – we can all say BIM works for us, when in reality it doesn’t necessarily.

Session 1: Richard Lane  (@richardlane) – Government as Client

It was great to have a strategic high level approach to BIM and representation by the BIM Task Group at the event – a daunting opener I would imagine given the open theme of the evening, but having survived without heckles, Richard put an invite out to those who would like to help disseminate the message of the Task Group to a wider audience. Get in contract with Richard if you think you can help…

Session 2: Carl Collins (@???) – To PAS or not to PAS?

An interesting if controversial look at the way PAS promotes the idea of collaboration; is this the correct way? Should it be a more organic process? The presentation was very timely in the wake of the upcoming PAS1192:2 review to be hosted by Casey – its almost as if they planned it? J It was evident though that there is some confusion on how PAS will work in the real world.

Session 3: Andrew Duncan (@AGDunc)   – Collaboration via DWFx

A presentation discussing the best way of outputting information from Revit to Navisworks with no mention of IFC – The horror! But Andrew taught us that when we are exporting what we think to be dumb 2D information it might not always be the case. In fact for those out there exporting 3D DWF a whole load of data that you may or may not want exchanged is being carried with it. At the same time this 3D DWF is freely viewable (and its inherent data) from a web browser; now there’s something to loose sleep over! Who thought they were just sending out a dumb 2D drawing file, I certainly did….

But this file format does have its benefits; speed of refresh in Navisworks, ease of visual representation, ability to share simply. Indeed the DWF file seems to be a good solution to review design data fast. But is it the answer?

Session 4: Allister Lewis (@allisterlewis) BIM from a County Council Architect POV

Allister filled in the first ‘open’ slot of the evening, representing Hampshire City Council. It was fantastic to see someone who works for local authority having this much passion for a way or working. Allister detailed the pilot project he had been working on, allowing for the freedom of exploration using new modelling and processes.

One of Alister at every LPA please!

Session 5: Liam Southwood (@liamsouthwood) The 10 BIM Commandments

Liam filled the second ‘open’ spot of the evening with a lighthearted look at the translation of the 10 commandments to BIM. There were some good analogies and some valuable lessons to be taken away from the presentation.

Session 6: Rebecca De Cicco (@becdecicco) – BIM2050 Intro and Trailer  

A sneak preview of the late summer block buster, I can only assume we are awaiting David Philp to return from holiday prior to the formal release and subsequent red carpet events… All it needs now is a snazzy voice over and to be uploaded to youtube and it’s sure to be a hit.

So, as I type this on the train on the way home, my shoes have still not dried out; I guess that’s the price you pay for an evening of BIM banter in London… Here is to the next BIM Open Mic night – I certainly hope thee will be many to come. Who knows maybe next time I might event speak if anyone is willing to listen….

A huge thanks must go to Casey for organising and hosting the event.