For a very long time, the construction process of buildings remained the same. Specifically, architects were primarily responsible for the design phase, whereas general builders were responsible for the construction phase. However, there has been a strong shift towards digitalisation in the construction process over the last decade. Digitalisation primarily involves Building Information Modelling (BIM), which is a digital representation of a building in 3D, 4D, or even 5D. Such models allow immediate changes to walls or materials. Why is this relevant, and how does this change the construction process? For instance, because BIM allows for clash control which makes it easier to already detect possible problems in an early stage.

The European Architectural Barometer Q4 2019 shows how the cooperation between different parties in the construction value chain goes and what information are architects are sharing with other parties in the construction process.

European Architectural Barometer Q4 2019 - USP Marketing Consultancy

BIM is used within the entire chain

The general idea of BIM is to link people, technology, and processes to improve outcomes in building and construction. While architects were the first professional group that adopted BIM, the exchange of information has begun to happen on a broader scale with other parties also being involved in the BIM model in the last few years. Architects indicate that information sharing is currently happening with structural engineers. MEP engineers and main contractors have become part of the BIM process as well, indicating a change over time from mainly architecture users towards a broader usage of BIM-models within the entire chain.

Most shared: 3D drawings 

3D visualization and animation, and the generation of 2D drawings from 3D models are the most used functionalities of BIM. Therefore, it is not surprising that 2D and 3D drawings are among the most shared information with other parties in the construction process.

It is worth mentioning though, that about one third of the architects already share complete models of the projects with other parties using BIM, which is an important step towards better collaboration and efficient communication. Working in one BIM model has many different advantages, amongst which are preventing data loss and making sure that stakeholders have easy access to up-to date project information.

Dutch architects share most in BIM

In the Netherlands many architects share information using BIM with engineering companies and main contractors. Next to engineering companies and main contractors, one third of architects also share BIM information with electrical and HVAC installers. Dutch architects are among the most advanced in terms of the type of information they share – 41% share the complete model of the projects already, suggesting that the parties they work with are also BIM ready, having the knowledge and software to work in the model.

An expanding role for BIM

BIM has far more added-value than only facilitating a projects during the design phase, or offering clash controls and 3D visualization. Determining quantities of construction materials, equipment, and man hours is done on a limited scale and linkage with planning and costs is still not very common in the architects practice. The fact that main contractors already start being involved in the circulation of BIM information is very positive, and the same refers to the involvement of electrical and HVAC installers in the Netherlands. With this, the role of BIM is expanding from the design phase to the building phase as well. However, the steps towards using BIM models in operation and maintenance still needs to be taken.

Published by

Dirk Hoogenboom
Dirk Hoogenboom
Research Consultant at USP Marketing Consultancy

European architects
are sharing more information with more other parties in the construction process through BIM. The main topic of the European Architectural Barometer Q4 2019 report is BIM, and this report shows how the cooperation between different parties in the construction value chain goes and what information architects share with them.