Collaboration Towards Recognition of Architecture, Building and BIM in Education

This weeks article will be looking at how collaboration between industry and universities can help towards educational recognition of architectural excellence.  Are we doing enough to recognise the achievements of our students in the UK? If you or we are then great but if not then are there any lessons to be learnt from comparative countries or systems. Part of the focus this week will be to look at what I feel is a good example of what can be achieved if a group of individuals work together to achieve a defined set goal, the newly established Tamayouz Award.

Iraqi Academics in collaboration with the Tamayouz award committee are attempting to improve and publicise architectural excellence within Iraqi education through their ‘Excellence in Graduation Projects’ award.  A further award titled ‘Women in Architecture and Construction’ was set up to recognise the contributions of women within architecture. The goal as outlined by the Tamayouz Award team is to achieve improvements within these areas within Iraq through the creation of the Tamayouz Awards by recognising and highlighting the success and achievements of students and academic institutions within Iraq.

First Place Desert Research Centre Anwar Sabah Abbas University Of Technology – Baghdad Supervised by Dr Ibrahim Jawad Al-Yousif Comments: “The design considers the environmental challenges of its location and incorporates engaging communal spaces; encouraging interaction and discussion between researchers and visitors.” Dame Zaha Hadid.

First Place
Desert Research Centre
Anwar Sabah Abbas
University Of Technology – Baghdad
Supervised by Dr Ibrahim Jawad Al-Yousif
“The design considers the environmental challenges of its location and incorporates engaging communal spaces; encouraging interaction and discussion between researchers and visitors.” Dame Zaha Hadid.

The award was set up on the foundation of a volunteer system in which all parties in-putted their efforts for no fees!  This to me is possibly one of the biggest stand out points about this project is the fact that so many people are putting in their own time to help push forward the drive. As an academic myself I know that a lot of the work that needs to be put into any job, whether that be to help students achieve the best they can or whether that means  hitting an industry/commercial deadline goes far beyond that of the 9-5 job remit. As many academics and all collaborative teams for that matter probably know is that to achieve goals as a team you often need to go beyond that of the normal job remit.

Additional to the first two awards that run last year a further award has been created by Tamayouz to recognise ‘Design Excellence – (in the) UK’. Similar to the Iraq award is has been set up to recognise design excellence within education, only this time based in the UK. This year it has been run at Coventry University.

Within the UK a similar ethos is being taken in regards to improving the knowledge base and practice in regards to BIM in education and industry.  Many of the parties involved are attempting to drive forward a culture change within the construction sector on a voluntary basis. In my eyes I guess the message is that sometimes it’s not technology, cultural setting or processes that drive forward new changes and innovations. Instead it’s more about the people behind the drive that are important, whether the target is gaining recognition for architectural education excellence within Iraq or whether it be a Construction industry or academic culture change in regards to teaching architecture and construction. The people are what matters!  Within any effort certain bridges need to be surpassed to achieve the goals set out and many of the obstacles are ‘people’ obstacle rather than systems. Now I don’t want to sound too preachy but I feel that if collaboration and openness is improved on a people level between all parties whether that is an award programme or an industry level project then it will benefit both academia as well as industry in the long run.  This ethos in my eyes is a reflection of what changes need to happen within the UK construction and education sector where more practices way towards people level collaboration between integrated teams.

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I’d like to return the focus now back to the first award of  ‘Excellence in Graduation Projects’ in Iraq and outline how I feel we can learn some lessons from it in certain aspects.  I know we have certain awards from the professional accreditation bodies within the UK which are a great way to encourage students to push their work to the limits of their ability and beyond.  What I think we can learn from the above award however is that it doesn’t have to be discipline specific,  the Tamayouz award is open to a vast array of students in Iraq. One other aspect which I commend is the level of collaboration that has been achieved to establish the award; there are quite simply too many people to individually name within this article. However, if you take a look at the images below you will be able to see the level of collaboration from a multitude of sectors that took place.  (You may notice that my name is on there but please ignore this as I was a late arrival who simply gave a couple of opinions on a single document of award criteria, hence how I came across the award. I was not part of any founding team who made the awards work!)

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The award has some big headline names involved in judging from Architects such as Dame Zaha Hadid (DBE) and Angela Brady the President of the RIBA right the way through to Iraqi and UK based top academics and industry representatives.  Along with these larger faces is a large collaborative team which after speaking to the founder of the awards, Ahmed Salah, he says they made the award possible. I know this is often said in post reference to large projects that all the cogs make the system work but I feel it is something that needs to be highlighted as the focus I’m trying to establish is on collaboration to achieve success.

The main lesson I feel we in the UK could learn would be the collaboration processes between multiple sectors to gain recognition for excellence.  Could we create more opportunities like this one within the UK, additional to the already valuable professional body awards looking at recognising multi-discipline projects?   I’ve recently been involved in discussions within the BIM circles of education, most notably the BIM Academic Forum (BAF) which is attempting to replicate the ethos of collaborative BIM people/working processes by working together as a team to push forward BIM in education.  One idea is to create a nationwide award to recognise the achievements of student’s use of BIM within their projects.  With the ethos of collaboration at the heart of the award, and I don’t just mean the students projects,  I’m also referring to the infrastructure behind award.  Could we not have more awards similar to this with the UK education sector, driven by the drive of collaborative teams and educational institutes? I know this would take a leap of collaboration between universities which I know that in pockets does take place, overall though I feel that the gains would be great for students as well as academia and industry.


Sustainable Drainage Systems for Green Roofs – SUDS

This week’s article is a follow up to the previous article on green roofs looking at SUDS. Within the ‘To Green or Not to Green?’ article I mainly asked the question of why are we not using green roofs more often within our urban landscapes, the main focus was on the aesthetics qualities of green roof as well as the benefits in regards to well-being. This time around I will be focusing more on the technical aspects, in particular the Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems, otherwise known as SUDS.

Sustainable drainage systems can be incorporated into our urban landscape in a multiple of ways such as through green roofs, permeable pavements, rainwater harvesting, infiltration trenches, infiltration basins and many more. Green roofs can be extremely useful in reducing the amount of rainwater run-off especially in urban environments where much of the area is often hard surfaced which in consequence creates stormwater management issues within our urban landscapes. One solution to this issue can be through specifying and installing SUDS into our urban systems. If SUDS are is integrated into a green roof the benefits are numerous. Not only can it improve the aesthetics of an area as discussed in my previous article on green roofs, it can also brighten up the grey drab urban landscapes many of us are subjected too. Further benefits can be gained through improving environmental and drainage system management in technical terms as the plant species and substrate held on a green roof will naturally absorb rainfall thus reducing run-off into man made drainage systems considerably. green roof suds

As there are on occasion, limited or no natural stormwater management systems in urban areas most if not all of the rainwater runoff has to be managed by manmade systems, these systems can become overloaded at times of small and large events (storms or heavy rain). Green roofs can provide a double edged solution to help reduce this issue.  As stated in the Green Roof Guidelines (2012) “Once a green roof has established, both peak flow rates and total runoff volume of rainwater from the roof are significantly reduced compared to a conventional roof.”

Green roofs are particularly efficient at reducing rainwater run-off when encountering small events (light rain) but are less effective at times of larger events (heavy rain/storms).  According to CIRIA in (2007), green roofs will reduce the annual volume of rainwater run-off by between 50% and 85%! The variation in the percentages is down to the variations which can be found in the construction of the SUDS green roof, which as you can imagine are vast.  But if were to take those figures as an average that’s a reduction of 67.5% in rainwater run-off! That’s a significant amount.  Even when a SUDS green roof becomes saturated it still has beneficial affects as the run-off is at least slowed down through having to pass through the drainage systems, vegetation and substrate.

To understand exactly how a green roof can reduce rainwater run-off it is important to understand the process of evapotranspiration in SUDS systems. When a green roof is exposed to a small event, much of the rainfall which falls on the roof is captured by the substrate, the drainage layer and also upon the surface of the plants and vegetation.  A large amount of the rainfall which is held on the green roof, through the process of evapotranspiration is generally removed.  The rainwater that is absorbed and passes through the vegetation and substrate layer and then runs off will have reduced pollutants as much of it will be removed through the natural filtration process as it passes through the layers of the roofs. That nature and passive design at its best doing all the work for you!

Sourced form- Google Images

Sourced form- Google Images

So as I talked about earlier a green roof can significantly help to reduce rainwater run-off and thus reduce the pressure on man-made drainage systems which in turn reduces the peak flow rates by reducing the volume of total rainwater run-off.  The amount of rainwater which will run-off a SUDS green roof is dependent on the construction type used which as touched on earlier can have many variables such as; the depth of the substrate, the type of vegetation, the specification of the drainage layer and of course the local weather. According to the Green Roof Centre of research (2012), run-off can be prevented from all rainfall events up to 5mm. Further figures from the same source state that, “In summer, green roofs can retain 70–80% of rainfall and in winter they retain 10–35% depending on their build-up”. The variation between the two seasonal periods is due to the higher intensity of winter rainfall and the reduction in evapotranspiration by the vegetation, which in essence is the process when the water retained in the SUDS systems and evaporates as I discussed earlier.

Now believe me many lucky people may not see this factor as an issue, which in many cases it may not, however when you live in a built up urban area and you leave your front door to casually make your way to work, with a well thought out length of time allocated for your morning journey only to realise that with a shock the whole walkway is blocked due to the ‘gentle’ waterway that usually presides 50 metres from you path has now burst its banks and completely flooded your route the issue become a more pressing concern! SUDS green roof

Now over the last two articles I’m not out right stating that green roofs are perfect for every case, what I’m eluding to is that under the right circumstances green roofs are a viable if not extremely beneficial specification.  Some of the concerns or issues which should be understood when fully assessing the viability of green roofs and SUDS include the on-going maintenance which a green roof will require. For extensive green roofs it would be minimal, annual maintenance would suffice after the first few years bedding in period has passed (which many companies generally provide as part of the installation costs). However intensive green roofs do require some more regular maintenance, such as planting bedding plants and maintaining the removal of weeds etc. so additional costs have to be accounted for over the whole life of the roof. If the right vegetation is selected the maintenance levels can be reduced as many types such as wildflowers will naturally look after themselves.

Looking at the whole picture there are multiple benefits to green roofs and SUDS such as reducing the rainwater run-off, improving the energy performance of buildings and improving the biodiversity of our habitats. Yes there may be additional costs through increased set up and maintenance costs but much of that can be offset if you look at the whole lifecycle cost of the roof.  Aiming for a reduction in pollution and an improved low impact and sustainable environment, in spite of the recent recession should still be a topic that we as responsible inhabitants of our landscape should continue to drive towards.  My hope is that with the obviously needed cutbacks and austerity measures that this ethos isn’t cast aside for cheap, bottom line construction. 


What is BIM? Part 2 – Building Information Modelling and BIM Maturity Levels

It’s clear that BIM’s popularity is on the rise, with an estimated 47% of the participants who took part in the NBS National BIM Survey 2013 stating that at some point they had reached Level 2 BIM. What I’m interested in hearing this week is how far down the BIM maturity levels are you today and what gains do you feel BIM tools and protocols are bringing to your design and management processes? A look at the BIM levels of maturity and BIM for Professions ;
How we use BIM tools can differ depending on each each party involved, whether you’re coming from an Architects point of view or whether you’re looking at it from the Facilities Management angle, what gains you take away from following BIM practices can vary. Some of you out there may see and use BIM tools purely to enhance the communication of 3D designs in an isolated design environment.  While others may be at BIM ‘Maturity Level 1’, still preferring to work in 2D yet adopting the ‘Information’ protocol aspects of BIM to enhance file based collaboration. According to the NBS National BIM Survey 2013  47% of you out there have already at some point reached BIM ‘Maturity Level 2’, which is great news for BIM. Within the same NBS National BIM Survey 2013  8% stated that they have reached the iBIM Level 3 of maturity at some point, working within a fully collaborative and integrated environment, does this mean the future is surely bright for?
The UK Government has mandated that all public building projects will have to be using BIM design processes at level 2, fully collaborative 3D BIM with Library Management, or higher by 2016. To briefly outline the levels of maturity to give you a general idea of what all this means here is the BIS-BIM-strategy-Reportsmaturity level definitions;

Sourced from - BIS-BIM-strategy-Report (2011) BIM maturity Level BIM task group

Sourced from – BIS-BIM-strategy-Report (2011)

0.Unmanaged CAD probably 2D, with paper (or electronic paper) as the most likely data exchange mechanism.

1.Managed CAD in 2 or 3D format using BS 1192:2007 with a collaboration tool providing a common data environment, possibly some standard data structures and formats. Commercial data managed by standalone finance and cost management packages with no integration.
2.Managed 3D environment held in separate discipline “BIM” tools with attached data. Commercial data managed by an ERP. Integration on the basis of proprietary interfaces or bespoke middleware could be regarded as “pBIM” (proprietary). The approach may utilise 4D Programme data and 5D cost elements.
3.Fully open process and data integration enabled by IFC / IFD. Managed by a collaborative model server. Could be regarded as iBIM or integrated BIM potentially employing concurrent engineering processes.
This week additional to briefly discussing the Levels of BIM I’m going to be giving a brief outline of how BIM tools can assist a differing selection of disciplines;
BIM for Architectural Design and Modelling
As many are aware BIM models can be used to allow the designer to present and communicate 3D designs in a clear, easily accessible way for all to see. BIM models and information analysis packages provides a platform for multiple discipline teams to analysis, interrogate and navigate the project further, beyond the limitations of 2D design. Once the information is data dropped to the core model further clash detection analysis can take place, reducing issues and conflicts. As discussed earlier having all of the information centralised in one core model will inevitably lead to improved design and document efficiency. It is these added values that take BIM beyond that of a simple 3D visual model.
Sourced from- ARUP BIM Structure Model ECB Coventry

Sourced from-

BIM for Structural Modelling and Analysis

BIM software can assist the structural designer in their analysis of the structural performance of a structure. Employing one core structural model means that there is no need for multiple models to be created for each different structural analysis that’s needed. Time is saved through not having to continually transcribe information from one design package to another. All the related information to the project can then be easily shared and accessed by multiple project disciplines.
BIM for MEP Modelling, Detailing and Energy Analysis
Creating MEP details in a BIM model allows building service engineers’ and Architectural designers alike to be able to visually appreciate how the services within a design relate to the building as a whole, ensuring that clashes and issues are identified early on. Using MEP and energy analysis software many analytical programmes can be run to test the overall efficiency of the design. This should result in a circle of design – analysis – redesign, with an aim at establishing the most energy efficient design at as early stage as possible.
BIM for Programming and Scheduling (4D BIM)
BIM 3D models can be utilised to assist contractors in the programming and scheduling of BIM projects. This is achieved by adding programming and time data to a BIM project, once the data is married to the building project then the 4D programming schedule can be established. The 4D programme can then be used to assist contractors and designers to improve and refine the schedule of the project.
BIM for Quantity Schedules and Costing Information (5D BIM)
Quantity Surveyors and Designers are able to produce accurate quantity schedules and cost information for building projects. Standardised data can also be integrated into BIM models ensuring that all the building components meet the required Building Regulations. Your probably picking up on the theme here…. all of this information can then be stored and accessed within the BIM core model by all those involved in the project.
BIM for Facilities and Asset Management (6D BIM)
The management processes and time that it takes for a facilities management team to continually assess and maintain their asset stock can be considerable.  For instance if you think of a University estates team, with tens of buildings to manage trying to find a detail specification of a fixture or fitting in a building that was built 40 years previous you can imagine, it can be a tough task. Having all of the information available within one core model could be invaluable, at the click of a button the details, manufacturer, performance criteria and cost could be accessed almost instantaneously.

How far down the road of the BIM maturity levels do you feel you or your offices are at today? What gains if any, do you feel that BIM tools and protocols are bringing to your design and management processes within your working environment?
Feel free to comment and discuss the topic further.  
Information/opinions posted on this site are the personal views of the author and should not be relied upon by any person or any third party without first seeking further professional advice. Also, please scroll down and read the copyright notice at the end of the blog. 


What is BIM? (Part 1 – Building Information Modelling)

In the context of ArchitectureBuilding Information Modelling,  BIM is a design methodology, which enables all of the design details, decisions and characteristics to be held within a collaborative digital model and information package. Having all of the information centralised in one core model will inevitably lead to improved design and document efficiency. It is this added value that takes BIM beyond that of a simple 3D visual model.
Designed by and Property of Danny McGough  BIM Model

Designed by and Property of Danny McGough

I’m going to open with a few statistics but don’t be too frightened, 4 stats and I’m done!

The knowledge of BIM within the construction industry is on the rise, the recent NBS National BIM Report 2013 states that only ‘6% of the industry were neither aware nor using BIM’ in 2012, compare this to previous years of 21% and 43% in 2011 and 2010 respectively it is clear that the awareness of BIM amongst construction professionals is rising. Looking at these particular statistics it does paint a promising future for BIM.
Designed by and Property of Danny McGough BIM model

Designed by and Property of Danny McGough

However following on from this, in the same NBS BIM Report 2013, the statistic that ‘74% of the industry is not clear enough on what BIM is yet’ does mean that we’re not completely past the ‘What’ stage just yet for all construction professionals. It’s with this in mind that has led me to write this week’s blog, ‘What is BIM?’ In the context of Architecture Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a design methodology, which enables all of the design details, decisions and characteristics to be held within a collaborative digital model and information package. All of the design and project information can then be shared, accessed and even altered live, facilitating an efficient and fluid collaborative design and asset management process across the whole life cycle of a building. For the wider range of parties involved the concentration may be more on the ‘Information’ sharing aspects of BIM.  A predominate aspect of BIM which continually needs to be expressed and driven home is that the ‘Information’ side of BIM is just as important as any design model. Working within a BIM environment, adopting BIM information sharing protocols, collating the data in an interoperable format, and utilising documents such as BuildingSMART’s ‘Project Execution Plan’ into a project aims to improve how information is shared amongst all varying parties involved in an efficient interoperable manner, regardless of whether you’re the Architect or the contractor.

A core feature of working within a BIM environment is the drive towards encouraging multi-disciplinary collaboration from the very outset of a project. The benefits of all disciplines working together within one core BIM environment are multiple. A major issue that is experienced within non BIM design processes is the matter of conflicting design issues; the ethos of having a core central BIM model is to facilitate a smoother transition through these issues by identifying conflicts earlier on in the project stages thus reducing the negative effects on schedule and costs. From an early stage projects can be visualised allowing the client and designer alike to gain an appreciation of how the design is going to materialise, this allows for important design decisions and alterations to be made at an early stage where the cost repercussions are little cost or even zero. The efficiency of the effects of changes within documentation or design is greatly improved as any changes made which are linked to the main BIM package will be carried through and updated to all corresponding linked documents and models automatically.

Designed by and Property of Danny McGough  Independent silo separated design BIM Closed

Designed by and Property of Danny McGough

To the right you can see a graphical example of an ‘Independent Separated Design Environment’. This simple graphical representation expresses the chaos when all parties are working independently of the others.  Having the design process completed within a BIM environment using 3D BIM models with a core 3D BIM model at the centre of the project leads to multiple benefits post model creation. The models can be analysed allowing for a multitude of model interrogations to take place including; energy analysis, structural analysis, accurate schedules and quantity take-offs to name a few. It is argued that by using BIM processes for building projects it will improve the energy efficiency, improve the scheduling, facilitate a reduction of waste and possibly paramount to this, a reduction in costs.

Below is another graphical representation , of a  ‘BIM Collaborative Design Environment’ showing how a BIM core model and digital information package can assist the project team to deliver a fluid fully collaborative project.

Designed by and Property of Danny McGough OpenBIM BIM collaborative integrated design

Designed by and Property of Danny McGough

In summary, through carrying out all of this pre-construction design analysis and interrogation the result will be a reduction in conflicts and changes made during the construction phase which usually will have a detrimental effect on a project in terms of wastage, quality, time and costs. At the same time the stringent energy analysis that can take place in the early stages of a BIM project aims to improve the performance of a project in regards to low impact design. And finally post project completion the BIM model can continue to be utilised by the FM team to assist in the management of their assets in an environmentally conscious manner.What are your thoughts and experiences on BIM today? Is BIM something that is completely new to you, a foreign confusing topic or are you in the, we love it and were flying with it category?

I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts below in the comments as it would be great to hear where you are all coming from so we can keep the discussions and articles moving.
Information/opinions posted on this site are the personal views of the author and should not be relied upon by any person or any third party without first seeking further professional advice. Also, please scroll down and read the copyright notice at the end of the blog. 


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