Back to Vocabulary

Area: Design, planning and building

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is the process of creating a set of digital representations which consists of both graphical and non-graphical data for the entire building cycle  (Eastman et al., 2011). This process involves documenting, gathering, organising, and updating this information throughout the whole life cycle of a building from conception to demolition (Eschenbruch & Bodden, 2018). Beyond the demolition stage BIM can also support circular principles; managing the re-use, recovery, and recycling-potential of a building (Akbarieh et al., 2020; Xue et al., 2021). Whilst the concept of BIM as a process is supported by the International Organisation for Standardisation in ISO 19650-1:2018 (ISO, 2018), the National BIM Standard describes BIM as a digital technology (NBIMS-US, 2015). Despite the origins of BIM dating back to the 1970s, it did not become widely adopted by the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry as a computer design tool until the 2000s (Costa, 2017).

The digital building information model uses intelligent objects to store information in the form of three-dimensional geometric components along with its functional characteristics such as type, materials, technical properties, or costs (Eschenbruch & Bodden, 2018). This model forms the basis of a shared knowledge resource to support the various digital workflows of multidisciplinary stakeholders (Chong, Lee and Wang, 2017; Barile et al., 2018). Moreover, it serves the purpose of visualisation, clash detection between different building components, code criteria checking, environmental analysis, and cost estimation to name a few (Kamel & Memari, 2019; Krygiel & Nies, 2008). Therefore, utilising BIM can improve construction accuracy and enhance the built asset’s performance (Kubba, 2017; Love et al., 2013). The building information model facilitates the knowledge transfer between experts and project participants to satisfy end-user needs and support early-stage decision-making (Chong et al., 2017; Lu et al., 2017). Therefore, BIM can be considered a transdisciplinary practice as it communicates AEC, computation, and science (Correia et al., 2017).

In the AEC industry implementing BIM involves several stages, which are known as BIM maturity models. The maturity here means the extent of the user’s ability to produce and exchange information. These stages are the milestones, or levels, of collaboration and sharing of information that teams, and organisations aspire to. Defining these milestones is the main purpose of the different BIM maturity models that exist nowadays (Succar et al., 2012). The European Commission (EC) encourages step-by-step maturity models starting from BIM level 0 up to 4, to move the industry from a traditional modelling approach towards an open BIM approach. According to the EC, to reach BIM level 4 “all project, operational documentation and history are linked to objects in the model” (European Commission, 2017).

Due to growing concerns over the environmental, economic, and social impacts of the built environment, BIM is increasingly used to facilitate various sustainability analyses. In this regard, the concept of Green BIM initiated as the systematic digitalisation of building life cycles to accomplish established sustainability goals (Barile et al., 2018; Wong & Zhou, 2015). As such BIM has been integrated with Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), Life Cycle Costing Analysis (LCCA), and recently with Social Life Cycle Analysis (S-LCA) (Llatas et al., 2020). Today several BIM applications perform sustainability analysis in conjunction with Green Building Rating Systems (Sartori et al., 2021). In relation to housing BIM plays a crucial role in addressing affordability and sustainability issues from creation to maintenance, as well as the beyond end-of-life phases. However, many challenges remain for it to be fully and inclusively integrated within the AEC practice and for the full potential of BIM to be realised.

References

Akbarieh, A., Jayasinghe, L. B., Waldmann, D., & Teferle, F. N. (2020). BIM-based end-of-lifecycle decision making and digital deconstruction: Literature review. Sustainability (Switzerland), 12(7). https://doi.org/10.3390/su12072670

Barile, S., Orecchini, F., Saviano, M., & Farioli, F. (2018). People, technology, and governance for sustainability: the contribution of systems and cyber-systemic thinking. Sustainability Science, 13(5), 1197–1208. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-018-0621-y

Chong, H. Y., Lee, C. Y., & Wang, X. (2017). A mixed review of the adoption of Building Information Modelling (BIM) for sustainability. Journal of Cleaner Production, 142, 4114–4126. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.09.222

Correia, R. M., Brandão, F., & Paio, A. (2017). Transdisciplinary insight of digital architecture. XXI Congreso de La Sociedad Ibero-Americana de Gráfica Digital, 3. https://doi.org/10.5151/sigradi2017-034

Costa Jutglar, G. (2017). Integration of building product data with BIM modelling: a semantic-based product catalogue and rule checking system [Universitat Ramon Llull]. In TDX (Tesis Doctorals en Xarxa). http://www.tesisenred.net/handle/10803/450865

Eastman, C., Teicholz, P., Sacks, R., & Liston, K. (2011). BIM Handbook: A Guide to Building Information Modeling for Owners, Managers, Designers, Engineers, and Contractors. www.EngineeringBooksPdf.com

Eschenbruch, K., & Bodden, J. L. (2018). Chapter 17: Integrating BIM in Construction Contracts. In Building Information Modeling - Technology Foundations and Industry Practice. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-92862-3

European Commission. (2017). JRC Technical Report Building Information Modelling (BIM) standardization. In JRC Technical Reports. https://doi.org/10.2760/36471

ISO. (2018). ISO 19650-1:2018(en). https://www.iso.org/obp/ui/#iso:std:68078:en

Kamel, E., & Memari, A. M. (2019). Review of BIM’s application in energy simulation: Tools, issues, and solutions. Automation in Construction, 97, 164–180. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.autcon.2018.11.008

Krygiel, E., & Nies, B. (2008). Green BIM: Successful Sustainable Design With Building Information Modeling. Wiley Publishing.

Kubba, S. (2017). Building Information Modeling (BIM). In Handbook of Green Building Design and Construction (pp. 227–256). Butterworth-Heinemann.

Llatas, C., Soust-Verdaguer, B., & Passer, A. (2020). Implementing Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment during design stages in Building Information Modelling: From systematic literature review to a methodological approach. Building and Environment, 182, 107164. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.buildenv.2020.107164

Love, P. E. D., Simpson, I., Hill, A., & Standing, C. (2013). From justification to evaluation: Building information modeling for asset owners. Automation in Construction, 35, 208–216. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.autcon.2013.05.008

Lu, Y., Wu, Z., Chang, R., & Li, Y. (2017). Building Information Modeling (BIM) for green buildings: A critical review and future directions. Automation in Construction, 83(June), 134–148. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.autcon.2017.08.024

NBIMS-US. (2015). About the National BIM Standard-United States® | National BIM Standard - United States. National Institute of Building Sciences. https://www.nationalbimstandard.org/about

Sartori, T., Drogemuller, R., Omrani, S., & Lamari, F. (2021). A schematic framework for Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Green Building Rating System (GBRS). Journal of Building Engineering, 38, 102180. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jobe.2021.102180

Succar, B., Sher, W., & Williams, A. (2012). Measuring BIM performance: Five metrics. Architectural Engineering and Design Management, 8(2), 120–142. https://doi.org/10.1080/17452007.2012.659506

Wong, J. K. W., & Zhou, J. (2015). Enhancing environmental sustainability over building life cycles through green BIM: A review. Automation in Construction, 57, 156–165. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.autcon.2015.06.003

Xue, K., Hossain, M., Liu, M., Ma, M., Zhang, Y., Hu, M., Chen, X., & Cao, G. (2021). BIM Integrated LCA for Promoting Circular Economy towards Sustainable Construction: An Analytical Review. Sustainability, 13, 1310. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031310

Created on 16-02-2022 | Update on 08-03-2022

Related definitions

Transdisciplinarity

Author: A.Davis (ESR1)

Area: Community participation

Transdisciplinarity is a research methodology crossing several disciplinary boundaries, creating a holistic approach to solve complex problems. A transdisciplinary approach fosters bottom-up collaboration, provides an environment for mutual learning, and enhances the knowledge of all participants (Klein et al., 2001, Summary and Synthesis). Transdisciplinarity is a relatively young term, first used just over fifty years ago at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) congress by Jean Piaget, who described it in a broader sense as “a higher stage succeeding interdisciplinary relationships…without any firm boundaries between disciplines” (Piaget, 1972, p.135). Transdisciplinarity goes beyond interdisciplinarity through a fusion of academic and non- academic knowledge, theory and practice, discipline and profession (Doucet & Janssens, 2011). Stokols (2006) asserts transdisciplinarity is inextricability linked to action research; a term coined by Lewin (1946) as comparative research leading to social action. Lewin sought to empower and enhance the self-esteem of participants, which included residents of minority communities, through horizontal and democratic exchange between the researcher and participants. Familiar devices rooted in action research, such as surveys, questionnaires, and interviews are common in transdisciplinary research (Klein et al., 2001). A transdisciplinarity approach has been used to address complex global concerns in recent decades, beginning with climate change and extending into many areas including socio-political problems (Bernstein, 2015). Lawrence et al. (2010) stress that in addressing community related issues such as housing, it is crucial a transdisciplinary approach is adopted not only to integrate various expert opinions but to ensure the inclusion of affected communities such as the residents themselves. Housing is a complex social issue, therefore requiring such an approach to foster participation of non-academics to provide socially relevant solutions. Salama (2011) advocates for the use of transdisciplinarity in the creation of affordable and sustainable housing, which is often restricted by stakeholders working in silos, the oversimplification of housing-related issues, and a disconnect from local communities.

Created on 05-07-2022 | Update on 06-07-2022

Read more ->
Mass customisation

Author: C.Martín (ESR14)

Area: Design, planning and building

Mass customisation (MC) is a process by which a company approaches its production in a customer-centric manner, developing products and services according to the needs and requirements of each individual customer, while keeping costs near to mass production (Piller, 2004). MC establishes a new relationship between producers and customers which becomes crucial in product development  (Khalili-Araghi & Kolarevic, 2016). Alvin Toffler (1970, 1980) was the first to refer to the MC concept in his books “Future shock”  and “The third wave”. Stanley Davis (1987) later cemented the term in his book “Future Perfect”. But it was not until 1993, when Joseph Pine  developed its practical application to business, that the concept started gaining greater importance in research and practice (Pine, 1993; Brandão et al., 2017; Piller et al., 2005). Nowadays, MC is understood as a multidimensional process embracing a combination of mass production, user-driven technologies, big data, e-commerce and e-business, digital design, and manufacturing technologies (Brandão et al., 2017). In the last twenty years, almost every sector of the economy, from industrial production to consumer products and services, has been influenced by mass customisation. The difference between mass customisation and massive customisation is the ability to relate the contextual features to the product features. This means that a random generation of design alternatives would not be sufficient; these alternatives should be derived from the cultural, technological, environmental and social context, as well as from the individual context of the user (Kolarevic & Duarte, 2019). As a business paradigm,  MC provides an attractive added value by addressing customer needs while using resources efficiently and avoiding an increase in operational costs (Piller & Tseng, 2009). It seeks to incorporate customer co-design processes into the innovation and strategic planning of the business, approaching economies of integration (Piller et al., 2005). As a result, the profitability of MC is achieved through product variety in volume-related economies (Baranauskas et al., 2020; Duray et al., 2000). The space in which it is possible to meet a variety of needs through a mass customisation offering is finite (Piller, 2004). This solution space represents the variety of different customisation units and encompasses the rules to combine them, limiting the set of possibilities in the search of a balance between productivity and flexibility (Salvador et al., 2009). The designer’s responsibility would be to meet the heterogeneities of the users in an efficient way, by setting a solution space and defining the degrees of freedom for the customer within a manufacturer’s production system (Hippel, 2001). Therefore, an important challenge for a company that aims at becoming a mass customizer is to find the right balance between what is determined by the designer and what is left for the user to decide (Kolarevic & Duarte, 2019). Value creation within a stable solution space is one of the major differences between traditional customisation. While a traditional customizer produces unique products and processes, a mass customizer uses stable processes to provide a high range of variety among their products and services (Pine, 1993). This would enable a mass customizer to achieve “near mass production efficiency” but would also mean that the customisation alternatives are limited to certain product features (Pine, 1995). As opposed to the industrial output of mass production, in which the customer selects from options produced by the industry, MC facilitates cultural production, the personalisation of mass products in accordance with individual beliefs. This means that the customer contributes to defining the processes, components, and features that will be involved in the flow of the design and manufacturing process (Kieran & Timberlake, 2004). Products or services that are co-designed by the customer may provide social benefits, resulting in tailor-made, fitting, and resilient outcomes (Piller et al., 2005). Thanks to parametric design and digital fabrication it is now viable to mass-produce non-standard, custom-made products, from tableware and shoes to furniture and building components. These are often customizable through interactive websites (Kolarevic & Duarte, 2019). The incorporation of MC into the housebuilding industry, through supporting, guiding, and informing the user via interactive interfaces (Madrazo et al., 2010), can contribute to a democratisation of housing design, allowing for an empowering, social, and cultural enrichment of our built environment. Our current housing stock is largely homogeneous, while customer demands are increasingly heterogeneous. Implementing MC in the housing industry could address the diverse consumer needs in an affordable and effective way, by creating stable solution spaces that could make good quality housing accessible to more dwellers. Stability and responsiveness are key in the production of highly customised housing. Stability can be achieved through product modularity, defining and producing a set of components that can be combined in the maximum possible ways, attaining responsiveness to different requests while reducing the complexity of product variation. This creates customisation alternatives within the solution space which require a smooth flow of information and effective collaboration between customers, designers, and manufacturers (Khalili-Araghi & Kolarevic, 2018). ICT technologies can help to effectively materialise this multidimensional and interdisciplinary challenge in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry, as showcased in the Sato PlusHome multifamily block in Finland[1]. Nowadays, there are companies that have integrated a systematic methodology to produce mass customised single-family homes using prefabrication methods, such as Modern Modular[2]. On the other hand, platforms such as BIM that act as collaborative environments for all stakeholders have demonstrated that building performance can be increased and precision improved while reducing construction time. These digital twins offer a basis for fabricated components and enable early cooperation between different disciplines. Parametric tools have the potential to help customisation comply with the manufacturing rules and regulations, and increase the ability to sustainably meet customer requirements, using fewer resources and shorter lead times (Piroozfar et al., 2019). In summary, a mass customisable housing industry could be achieved if the products and services are parametrically defined (i.e., specifying the dimensions, constraints, and relationships between the various components), interactively designed (via a website or an app), digitally fabricated, visualised and evaluated to automatically generate production and assembly data (Kolarevic, 2015). However, for MC to be integrated effectively in the AEC industry, several challenges remain that range from cultural, behavioural and management changes, to technological such as the use of ICTs or those directly applied to the manufacturing process, as for example automating the production and assembly methods, the use of product configurators or managing the variety through the product supply chain (Piroozfar et al., 2019).   [1] Sato PlusHome. ArkOpen / Esko Kahri, Petri Viita and Juhani Väisänen (http://www.open-building.org/conference2011/Project_PlusHome.pdf) [2] The Modern Modular. Resolution: 4 Architecture (https://www.re4a.com/the-modern-modular)

Created on 06-07-2022 | Update on 06-07-2022

Read more ->

Related case studies

No entries

Related publications

No entries

Relational graph

icon case study Case Study
icon case study Concept
icon case study Publication
icon case study Blogposts