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The North East BIM Hub SME BIM Challenge

Posted: 18th April 2013

The North East BIM Hub recently held a one day BIM challenge in Newcastle on 10 April 2013 and invited SMEs from across the region to form collaborative working teams to create a BIM enabled project. The design brief was to produce a social community hub with catering facilities, internal recreational space, multi‐use space for community groups, toilet and changing facilities. The teams had just one day to work together to produce a proposal using as many BIM processes as possible, including mandatory BIM practices such as: a BIM Execution Plan (BEP); federated multidisciplinary design model; clash detection and a visualisation. Other optional processes were COBie, open source validation, costing, structural analysis, environmental analysis, construction simulation (4D), costing (5D) and facilities management 6D.

Four teams headed up by Niven Architects, Cundall, Summers-Inman and the BIM Academy, each with seven members from different disciplines and from an array of companies took part in the challenge which was chaired by NE Hub Champion John Nielsen. Here is an account of the day from Team Niven.

Niven Architects brought together a diverse group of building professionals from engineers to interior designers including: Billinghurst George & Partners, Thornton & Firkin, Turner & Townsend, JH Partners, Shepherd Construction and representatives of the next generation of professionals through a team of Teesside University’s interior architecture students. The team included a wide spectrum of BIM expertise and utilised the 8 hours they were allocated to expand their understanding on a ‘live’ project.

Niven Architects is an active member of the BIM regional hubs and the idea for the challenge was tabled on the back of OPEN Build Qatar Live that we successfully completed in late 2012. The learning outcomes from that were fantastic and gave rise to the idea of engaging all our local supply chains and stakeholders. A key consideration was its suitability for BIM novices because about 80% of the OPEN Build Qatar team had never been involved with a live BIM process.

As a company we have taken huge steps towards a complete BIM process implementation, but it doesn’t matter how far we get, if our supply chain of consultants, clients and stakeholders are not on board, it defeats our ultimate objective.

The brief for the project was the development of a community hub in Byker, Newcastle- upon- Tyne, with the team focussed on collaboration, utilising in-house developed BIM processes and protocols to show what is possible in a very short period of time and the advantages of a thorough BIM process.

The challenge was about the delivery of coordinated information using BIM processes and protocols and not about beautiful architecture. One of the major learning outcomes for the team was how useful it is for a complete design team, from architects to contractor, to be sat round a table with a blank sheet of paper. From the very start of the design, architectural issues were resolved and valuable engineering was allowed to take place. This process is something that we will look to introduce in future projects.

From a technical perspective the project was anything but seamless, but this wasn’t what the challenge was about. The objective was to allow consultants to create BIM awareness within their firms in a safe environment.

With Johnathan Munkley’s leadership (Niven Architects’ BIM Manager) the team produced a package of basic design information in an extremely short time period. From the development of a concept design at 9am, the team produced a variety of documents and presentations from the multidisciplinary BIM data created. This included project visuals and flythrough, interior design concepts, budget costings, lifecycle costings, environmental analysis, structural analysis, M&E design and even COBie data drops,

“This was a great opportunity to test the protocols and processes we have been establishing within our practice and our supply chains are vital to successful and thorough BIM process implementation” said Johnathan Munkley.

“Having the main contractor (Martin Wing from Shepherds Construction) working directly with us during the concept data production saved hours of redesign work that would normally only happen 6 months into the design process” Marc Warren, Architectural Technologist, Niven Architect.

It is hoped in the future that a similar challenge can be rolled out across other regional hubs. The winner of the NE BIM Hub challenge are listed below and the overall winner will be formally recognised at the Constructing Excellence NE Awards in May.

‘Best use of Interoperability’ – Niven Team.
‘Best use of Visualisation’ – Summers-Inman Team.
‘Best use of Asset Management’ – Cundall Team
‘Team Best Support to SMEs’ – BIM Academy Team

‘Overall winner’ – Summers-Inman Team