I am a building information modelling (BIM)...
What if you could bring together all the potential of building information modelling (BIM) in one project? Could that transform people’s understanding of the potential of the virtual design process? These were the questions in my mind when I proposed an internal research and development project called ProjectOVE.
I wanted to do a project that focussed on improving processes and defining new ways of working. And I wanted a project that would grab people’s attention, even before they found out how we created it. So I pitched the idea of bringing BIM to life by modelling a fully functioning 170m tall 35-storey building that replicates the human body as closely as possible.
The ProjectOVE data set gives us a foundation to continually build on our BIM capability. It will enable us to improve the processes included in the first model, such as the structural design and the design of our mechanical, electrical and public health systems that create environments that are comfortable for occupants. And future versions will include more processes – I know my fire, acoustics and lighting colleagues are keen to be involved. Indeed, the project has generally met with much enthusiasm.
For me, this demonstrates a benefit of creating such an eye-catching model. We could have modelled a run-of-the-mill building but I don’t think this would have captured imaginations the way ProjectOVE has. It’s inspired people to get involved and give their time to something out of the ordinary.
I think this makes ProjectOVE an invaluable communication and education tool for BIM. I know from experience that trying to enthuse kids about something like air conditioning systems isn’t easy. But if you can show them a model like ProjectOVE we can make the experience much more immersive and engaging. This has already made a big difference.
I hope our work will make a big difference to the industry too. No single firm can deliver a building by itself. So we’ve made the ProjectOVE data set freely available to any architects, contractors, operators and clients who want to investigate it and help us understand how we can most effectively share data.
Ultimately, ProjectOVE can do what other projects cannot. Real-life projects must be tempered by the needs of clients, and as designers we have a responsibility not to fail them. But an internal research project gives you more space to be creative and the freedom to take more risks.
That’s why, when it comes to BIM, I think this is the sort of thing the industry should be doing more of. We should all invest as much time, energy and money as possible in perfecting our processes.