Thursday, September 26, 2013

BIM: An NZ, AU and UK Perspective - Videos

Following on from my post earlier this month I am pleased to be able to upload all 3 videos from the BIM Event held in Christchurch on the 28th of August.

Video one – I give an overview of BIM in New Zealand, the plans of the Productivity Partnership and MBIE, and details on the NZ BIM Handbook

Video two – Steve Appleby gives an overview of BIM in Australia

Video three – David Philp, Head of BIM Implementation for the Cabinet Office gives a UK BIM update and a presentation on H.M Governments whole sector approach to the implementation of digital collaborative working.

Monday, September 23, 2013


Below is an adaptation of an article that was put together for the UK BIM Task Group newsletter by myself, Steve Appleby, Chris Tate and David Philp on Dave’s trip over to Australia and New Zealand, it outlines important meetings between Dave and ANZ officials, and the launch of the first Collaborate ANZ free BIM event, followed by a BIM event in Christchurch.


On Monday the 26th of October David Philp (@ThePhilpster) was in Sydney Australia and present at the inaugural Collaborate ANZ industry briefing. Collaborate ANZ (@collaborateanz) is a not-for-profit initiative, working with and run by the industry. They aim to foster and disseminate BIM best practice and align industry practices 'by osmosis. This free event attracted key members of the AEC industry from across Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) and was focused on communicating the goals, progress and aspirations of various organisations involved in the promotion and development of BIM together with Collaborate's own story of the prominent work they are undertaking in this area.

An international perspective was provided by David who provided the audience with a update on the UK industry and its impending BIM mandate through informal questions and answers - with the assistance of Bob Owen, Associate Professor, QUT – who gave a comprehensive presentation. Of note; most of the Collaborate leadership committee and Bob Owen are again from the UK but have exported their BIM knowledge across the Pacific Rim.

Chris Tate (@CR_Tate) of BVN Donovan Hill & Chair Collaborate ANZ commented "David's presence at our inaugural industry event strengthens our commitment to distilling and sharing best practice beyond our immediate working environments, projects and territorial borders. I am confident that the ANZ market has benefitted from this initial dialogue and I look forward to building on this relationship over the coming months. We are beginning to explore how this international conversation can continue through expanding Collaborate's values and framework into Collaborate UK (@collaborateUK_ launching soon). We'd like to thank David for his time in Australia; the information provided will no doubt inspire and influence decision making within the industry for some time to come."

On Tuesday morning, AECOM hosted a roundtable with David and representatives from Consult Australia (CEO Megan Motto and COO Julia Lemercier), Collaborate ANZ, the BIM in Practice Steering Committee, led by John Hainsworth (@BIM_OZ) and the Australian Procurement and Construction Council (APCC) Executive Director, Teresa Scott. This meeting proved a lively discussion on the path Australia has taken to date and what is required to ensure a consistent approach to the adoption of digital technologies and process that will improve efficiency across the construction sector. It was agreed that the technical argument is not the path to follow with the Commonwealth government and the best argument is the economic argument around improving and maintain GDP and competition with the nations of Asia Pacific.

AECOM’s BIM Practice Lead, and Vice Chair Collaborate ANZ, Steve Appleby (@SteveApplebys) commented: “The insights shared at this meeting will provide a lasting reference point as industry works alongside the Commonwealth to advance the adoption of BIM in Australia. The advice and feedback we received from David reinforces the requirement for industry to partner with the government to develop consistency in the procurement and delivery processes of the built environment. The risk of adoption is reduced as we learn from the successful policies implemented by HM Government in the UK.

On Tuesday evening, after a very productive morning with Consult Australia, BuildingSmart Australia, and Collaborate ANZ David boarded a flight to Christchurch in New Zealand, a city which was devastated by a series of powerful earthquakes in September 2010 and February 2011. The purpose of David’s trip was to attend a meeting with New Zealand Government and present an international and UK perspective on BIM at an event sponsored by New Zealand Institute of Building (NZIOB), New Zealand Institute of Architecture (NZIA), Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) and Collaborate ANZ.


After a morning of sightseeing including earthquake damaged areas, The Pallet Pavilion, The Container Mall and The Transitional (Cardboard) Cathedral, David attended a meeting hosted by Beca, with The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), The Ministry of Education (MoE), Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA), The Productivity Partnership, BuildingSmart Australia and Collaborate ANZ.

The purpose of this meeting was simple; to bring together senior leaders within government and industry to learn from the UK’s experience to date. The agenda focussed on the UK journey and how the NZ government could adopt BIM in a structured manor during what is the largest building programme in the nation’s history. The 2 hours flew by and the meeting and the conversation moved across a number of topics and concerns about mandating BIM on such a large scale over such a short timeframe. Key to this was understanding what the UK has achieved to date, and if there are any cross overs or lessons learnt that New Zealand can benefit from.

The evening saw over 200 people swarm on the main auditorium of Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT) for the NZIOB event BIM: an NZ, AU and UK Perspective. Speakers Glenn Jowett (@RevitST, BECA & Collaborate ANZ) giving a presentation titled BIM: A New Zealand Update, followed by Steve Appleby @SteveApplebys (AECOM, BuildingSmart Australia & Collaborate ANZ) giving a presentation titled AU BIM Update, followed by the main event David Philp, giving a presentation titled H.M. Government’s whole sector approach to implementation of digital, collaborative working. The session ended with a panel Q&A session where the speakers were joined by Naylor Love, one of the main contractors in New Zealand. The whole session was recorded by NZIOB and will be made available via the BIM Task Group website.


Alistair Pearson, Construction Manager for CERA commented “The NZIOB hosted event I attended regarding the BIM presentation by Dave Philp was both fascinating and informative.

The content of the talk was an insight into the task ahead for the Southern Hemisphere, BIM is the future and one that will be accepted as the norm before too long, David’s method of presenting held the 200 strong audience’s attention and by the amount of questions after the event struck a chord with the Consultant and Construction community. I look forward to watching this develop and applaud the team for putting together this informative evening”

Glenn Jowett of BECA and Collaborate ANZ commented “once I heard David was going to be in Australasia I knew it was important to get him to New Zealand to meet with Government officials, a major part of BIM is collaboration, and at the moment we have Governments in several countries all recreating the wheel with their own BIM mandates and guides, if we can work together to align Australia, New Zealand and the UK that is one step towards true clarity around BIM and global collaboration. Both the afternoon meeting with NZ Government and the evening presentations have done a lot for informing industry and Government on what the challenges and opportunities are relating to BIM.”

After a few #BIMBeers and musing over COBie UK it comes back to the same BIM story, actually it’s much more than the smart technology it’s about reshaping the industry we are all passionate about and ensuring we leave a digitally integrated legacy.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Interview – The Orangery: Point Cloud to Revit to Gaming Engine

A virtual experience to encourage greater public participation in the arts.


The building may be 18th century but the inspiration for The Orangery’s latest project is firmly rooted in the 21st century.

While The Orangery was built more than 200 years ago as a place to cultivate oranges, lemons and other exotic plants, it has been a stunning arts and conference space since 1996 when it was bought by the charity Public Arts (known as Beam).

The Grade II listed facility is currently running a three-year programme to develop the work of Wakefield artists and encourage greater public participation in the arts, with a particular focus on The Orangery. Its latest project aims to allow online visitors to take a virtual tour of the grounds, giving them the best possible experience without actually being there.

The online model was developed in Revit, a building information modelling software that allows users to design a building and its components in 3D. However, building models from scratch in the software is one thing, transferring information for existing assets is a different matter. Architects DLA needed to capture 3D digital images of the grounds and buildings for the software, and contacted Opus to help.  

The solution was to create ‘point clouds’, digital images that are captured using a laser scanner which fires out millions of laser points. The laser points measure the distance from the scanner to the surface they hit. The combination of all the measurements builds up an image of the scanned surface – almost like a 3D connect-the-dots picture.

Opus’ subsidiary Tower Surveys spent two days on site using a tripod-mounted laser scanner to build a complete picture of The Orangery. The point cloud was then given to DLA to transfer into Revit, allowing them to build a 3D model of The Orangery’s buildings and grounds.

British artist Richard Woods, known for his sculptures and innovative work with surfaces, designed a sculpture which was scanned and reproduced in Revit so that it could be accurately represented in the virtual tour.

Opus’ project coordinator Glenn Jowett, says the industry is increasingly turning to point clouds to bridge the information gap between new and existing building models.

“A lot more companies are now doing laser scans, and some are building Revit from point clouds,” Glenn says. “The innovative aspect was putting the information into a gaming engine where users are able to walk around the buildings.”

A gaming engine is the software that drives first-person experience computer games. Using the technology for The Orangery means users can experience exactly what they would see if they were actually walking around the grounds and buildings of The Orangery. Using mouse and keyboard, they can walk through Richard Woods’ maze sculpture, into the complex’s conference rooms and exhibition spaces, and even fly high above it all for a bird’s eye view.

Glenn says that projects like this one could point the way to the future. “Although, I would say that future was unimaginable to the Dowager Viscountess of Galway when she had the original Orangery built more than 200 years ago. This is an exciting development in technology, but most importantly our clients have been able to bring their vision to virtual life. It’s fantastic to be part of that vision.”

The impressive end result can be seen at

Original interview can be seen here

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Revit Collaboration

Definition of collaboration - col·lab·o·rat·ed, col·lab·o·rat·ing, col·lab·o·rates

1. To work together, especially in a joint intellectual effort.

Collaboration is the foundation of all successful designs; ‘working together in a joint intellectual effort’ is exactly what architects, engineers, contractors and supply chain partners do to successfully take a project from design through to construction. The way in which we collaborate has changed from 2D visual collaboration on paper or with AutoCAD to 3D digital collaboration with tools such as Revit and Navisworks. We are building things twice; once virtually and once again on construction sites physically.

Image 2

Why collaborate?

The benefits of the collaboration process are similar to the BIM process, collaboration follows a 360 degree circle starting with and ending with the client, and like the BIM process, every member of the design and construction team will benefit from improved efficiencies through collaboration.

· For the Client – Early collaboration will give the client a clearer understanding of their building, and the spaces they have to work with.

Not everyone understands how to read a drawing, but people can relate to images and animations. The ability to show a Revit model or a Navisworks walkthrough to a client and discuss their needs early in the design stage is quite powerful; this will assist in ironing out any issues the client may have, early in the process where most benefit can be gained.

· For the Design Team - Improved collaboration = improved coordination which makes the whole design process smoother.

Revit gives Architectural, Structural and Building Services designers the ability to collaborate in a digital 3D environment, the tools available in Revit such as interference check make coordination between all disciplines a much simpler process when compared with traditional 2D drawing. For me, the main advantage of interference checks lie with Structural and Building Services elements.

· For the fabricators – Collaboration with supply chain partners such as steelwork fabricators streamlines the process from design to fabrication.

More often than not steel fabricators will use tools other than Revit to produce shop drawings, I’m not saying Revit can’t be used but there are tools out there that are more suited to the job. For a steelwork fabricator receiving a Revit model in the form of an IFC there is a two stage process to go from Revit model to fabrication. A fabricator will import a Revit Structure model as an IFC, depending on the software they are using they have the ability to convert a model from ‘reference’ to ‘physical’ members in the model, this method isn’t fool proof as catalogues can vary slightly between packages but once the model is converted, profiles and orientation of members can be checked and amended as required. Connections can then be detailed. Working from the same model as the structural designer saves the fabricator a huge amount of time and ensures the team is working with the same data, and reducing waste from the overall design to fabrication process.

· For the Contractor – Collaboration results in improved design coordination between disciplines, which results in a practical, buildable solution when the project gets on site.

There is a lot of talk in the industry globally about virtual construction, “build it twice, once virtually,(a digital prototype) and once on site” is one of the tag lines coming out of the UK Governments BIM mandate. Revit not only allows the design team to virtually build a 3D model of a building, it allows the contractor to take that model, and use Revit to break it down into a ‘construction model’ (for example splitting floor slabs from one large slab into a series of pours.) From here the contractor will import the Revit model into Navisworks and use Navisworks to ‘virtually construct the building’, creating construction sequences to ensure every element slots into place, almost like a jigsaw. Linking the model to packages like Microsoft project will allow digital construction monitoring against the project schedule. This is happening all over the world, large contractors in the UK, the USA, and Australia are all doing this; there is also at least one major contractor in New Zealand following this exact process.

· For the Client - As designers our end goal is to deliver a project to a client on time, within budget and to the best of our ability with minimal waste. Collaboration is essential to achieving this.

Using Revit to collaborate digitally across the different design disciplines has a number of client benefits. A key point that is raised over and over again when discussing the benefits of Revit is a reduction in RFI’s, because the design team collaborated throughout the design phase to ensure no clashes between services and structure for example, and the contractor followed this up with a more in depth look at the construction process, the RFI’s should be cut right back, I’d go as far as saying some projects could be completed with no resulting RFI’s in relation to the team listed above. This results in a construction schedule that is on time, within budget and with little to no variations.

There is a lot of waste in what we do.

The construction industry is an industry that still has quite a lot of waste embedded in its processes. If you look at the process of designing a steel framed building there is the potential for at least four steel frame models to exist within one design team, four models that have been built from scratch by different people within that design team.

· Architect - The architect will add steel framing members to their model during the early design stage to try get a feel for how the structure will look and how it will impact the architecture.

· Engineer - The engineer will create a structural analysis model using packages such as Robot Structural Analysis.

· Modeler - The Revit Structure modeler will build a structural model for coordination and structural documentation.

· Fabricator - The steelwork fabricator will create a fabrication model showing all connections, cleats, and bolts for fabrication purposes.

Sharing models and data across the design team will reduce a lot of this waste, I don’t think the tools are ready yet for designers to “create the information once and pass it downstream” without the need for some rework, but there are a lot of efficiencies to be gained by all disciplines from sharing information.

Model things once

In some instances Architects will need to model structural members in the early design stages if all they have to work from is engineers hand sketches, but as the design progresses it is important that elements within the models are not duplicated across different disciplines Revit models, duplicating elements across models can lead to uncoordinated design, changes could be made in one discipline and not followed through into the other disciplines model. The design team should sit down at the start of a project and map out who owns what elements at what stage of the project. This might mean that in the early stages the architect models and owns all elements, when the structural engineer is on board the architect will relinquish ownership of all structural elements (delete from their model, or put onto a workset that is not visible by default in all views) in favor of using elements modeled by the structural designer, likewise with elements such as plumbing fixtures. As owner / operators become more educated in BIM and the benefits to their facilities management eventually all design team members will hand ownership of all model elements over to the facility manager. This is still some way off, but in an ideal world this is what will happen, and maybe as designers we should play a part in this and start to educate our clients in what full circle BIM has to offer.

One common “issue” I regularly hear from Architects is that while they want to show the Structural model for steelwork etc. as a linked file, they don’t want to have to spend the time turning of the other elements in the model like structural rebar, steelwork connections, etc. This is where view templates come into play, each discipline should create view templates for their views based on what they do and don’t want to see in the other disciplines models. The one problem that is still to be resolved is who owns walls? Structural walls need to host reinforcement, and architects also need to host windows and doors in some structural walls. The copy monitor tools within Revit are far from perfect, but this seems to be the only option for walls at the moment.

Communication is critical.

In the digital age we live in it is becoming more and more common for architects and engineers to make changes to their Revit model and by simply sharing that model with other design team members they feel that all the changes they have made will be picked up ‘because it is in the 3D model.’

A lot of people have forgotten how to use something which has been around since 1876, the telephone. The simplest form of collaboration is verbal communication, and as design evolves into a digital process I think the need for communication is critical to making collaboration work, just because I have modeled my structure in Revit, that doesn’t necessarily mean the architect will instantly pick up any changes I make.

In traditional 2D, drawings would be issued and revisions clouded; in the 3D model revisions can’t be clouded and drawing issues between the design teams are becoming less and less frequent. This means any on-going changes that are being made to the model that aren’t visible on drawing sheets can be difficult to pick up.

BIM start-up meetings are important

An initial BIM or Revit meeting should take place at the start of every major project, purely from a Revit and collaboration point of view items for discussion should be:

· File format for data exchange

· How often are files exchanged

· Clearly define what the model is to be used for at what stage in the design process

· Who models what and when

· Who owns what and when does element ownership go from one discipline to another

· Level of development (LOD) – what level of model information should I expect to receive at what stage? And does that meet my expectations

· How often should clash detection take place

· Project coordinates and project north position.

It is important that the above items (at least) are discussed before a project really starts to evolve, and the decisions on each item should be documented and set out in a BIM Execution Plan. Collaboration will be much easier to manage if every member of the design team has the same set of core principles to follow from start to finish.


Revit and other Autodesk 3D design tools have vastly improved the way we in the design and construction industry collaborate with each other in recent years. As we move further into this digital era we shouldn’t forget the basics, combining the 3D digital design tools we have at our finger tips with careful planning, regular communication and good team management. This I believe is a recipe for success.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

ETabs to Revit – The Failures

In the past I have written posts about the links between Revit and CSC Fastrak and the links between Revit and Robot these posts have generally pointed out more problems than solutions. Unfortunately, this post is more of the same.

I still maintain a view that the bi-directional link between analysis packages and Revit will not work fluently, this was exposed when I trialled Revit and Robot interoperability, it can be read about in the post above, and there are extensive discussions from myself on AUGI. Despite my thoughts on bi-directional interoperability, I do still see a benefit in linking analysis software to Revit.

In the past I have used CSC Fastrak to create a “throw away” model and set of rough and ready documents for concept design, the ability to use an existing model and easily knock up a set of plans, elevations and sections is a huge time saver. Concept designs change that much anyway it makes sense to create a “throw away” model and start from scratch once the design is firmed up.

I don’t see any added value beyond concept for bringing a model into Revit from an analysis package for a number of reasons, but mainly because of the simplification of dimensions for analysis tools. A package like Robot or ETabs doesn’t need to know that a beam is offset 25mm from grid. However, I do see real added value in going in the other direction depending on the complexity of the building in question. If a time saving can be made by building a Revit model first then exporting into an analysis package I strongly believe we should be taking advantage of that efficiency. In this post I am going to take you through my findings when going from ETabs to Revit.

This came about with a project that had been modelled in ETabs but documented in AutoCAD, I cannot name the project or show any images of the project but it involved 2 36 story (approx) towers coming down onto a podium level with 4 or 5 stories below the podium. There was a desire to get the model into Revit so the people involved in the project could take a closer looks at the facade framing which was fairly complex in nature.

The ETabs model contained 18,733 individual members.A lot of members!

My initial idea was to simply import the ETabs model into Revit using our default template file and see what the results are.

During the import process some elements automatically mapped, meaning that the CSiXRevit tool was doing its job, other elements only stated “use default,” at the time I could only assume that during the import process further elements would be created and mapped.

Some mapping - Automatic Name recognition  Use Default - No Mapping

The whole process took a  good 4-5 hours, once the import was complete the results were interesting to say the least.

  • A total of 21,101 errors
  • 17,979 Element join errors
  • 3050 Line too short errors
  • 32 Point Load errors
  • 40 Wall Errors

and a huge database log file containing a lot of error messages.

Having said that, I was left with a Revit model, the geometry was there despite the members being incorrect. The few concrete members that mapped automatically were all the same size and all other framing members were steel.

First Attempt Final Import

The next step was to let the CSi Exchange tool do all the work, after all the CSi documentation does say that:

Steel Sections Will be mapped to equivalent Revit Structure sections. Will be loaded if not already loaded.
Concrete Sections Equivalent Revit Structure sections will be automatically created and mapped (See note 1)

Note 1.

To facilitate the mapping of concrete sections, it may help if you have the various Revit Structure sections already loaded before you import your ETabs model into Revit. If CSiXRevit cannot easily map the names, then you can set the mapping at time of import. If you would like CSiXRevit to be able to automatically create equivalent Revit members of families you must load at least one member of the family for CSiXRevit prior to import.
Walls All wall geometry and openings will be created in Revit Structure

There is a table in the CSi guide that shows the naming of the families that have to be loaded into the Revit template prior to import, these are essentially the out of the box families;




To save myself another 4-5 hours for the second trial I set up a beam family within the Revit template named in accordance with the CSiXRevit documentation and purged out all other families from the project file. This would allow me to see whether or not the CSiRevit tool could automatically create framing members as suggested above.

The simple answer to that question is no it can’t, it did map one type of concrete beam and again made every other concrete beam exactly the same.

All conc Beams the same with auto Mapping 

The third and final attempt was to create every single element type that was contained in the ETabs model, the trick for automatic mapping of elements is to create the element within Revit and make sure the name is exactly the same as the name within ETabs, or so i thought……

  • 364 Frame Sections (Beams and Columns)
  • 36 Floor Types
  • 24 Wall Types

Create Types to Match ETabs Members

One thing I noticed during this process is that within ETabs individual member definitions aren’t only constrained to the size of the member, material is also taken into account. This means you could easily have 3 concrete beams that are exactly the same size, but all have different names because the material is different. This process was quite cumbersome but once complete I felt confident the import process would be a success. (how wrong I was)

The third attempt was complete with 13,599 element join warnings, and a total of 6972 warnings from CSiXRevit itself.


Second attempt - Warnings 

Unfortunately there isn’t a happy ending to this story, after leaving my machine on overnight for the import to take place, and waiting another 2-3 hours for the element join warnings to be resolved and the model to regenerate I was left with this


Absolutely nothing………. The model geometry is clearly visible behind the  CSiXRevit warning dialogue box, but once Revit has worked through its ‘issues’ all the geometry vanishes, the file size stays exactly the same as the initial template file, and thankfully I wasted no time because I left the machine working in the background and overnight.

I do still believe there is a place for the link between Analysis and design software such as Revit, but my opinion as stated at the start of this article is that place should be going from Revit to analysis software, I went through the process above because of need rather than want, it was required to assist a current project rather than an R&D exercise because I saw true benefit in doing this.

I will however be undertaking a thorough R&D exercise going the other way, from Revit to ETabs in the near future, I will share the good, the bad and the ugly parts of my findings once that process is complete.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

BIM in New Zealand

The Productivity Partnership an initiative with MBIE are aiming to make a 20% productivity gain in the New Zealand Construction industry by 2020

On 7 May a workshop was held in Auckland to get industry input to a constructors’ guide to using Building Information Modelling. The Productivity Partnership is working through the National Technical Standards Committee (NTSC) to produce an online BIM handbook for New Zealand. The project is part of the Partnership’s strategy to accelerate the application of BIM in construction in New Zealand.

After reviewing BIM handbooks around the world, NTSC has commissioned NATSPEC of Australia to write the New Zealand version. The workshop gave 40 industry representatives the opportunity to discuss the content, structure and scope of the handbook so that it is tailored to our specific industry needs.

I was lucky enough to be in attendance and here are the key points I noted.

The Productivity Partnership is targeting a 20% productivity gain in the New Zealand Construction sector by 2020. Three core aims of this are:

  • Taking the complexity out of our build
  • Increasing the speed of our build
  • Building better for less cost.

A number of items have been identified to achieve a 20% Productivity gain by 2020, most of these items are small steps spread over a longer period of time.

BIM has been identified as a major step change – an immediate (and quite large) productivity gain can be achieved over a shorter period of time.

Steps to BIM

National Technical Standards Committee has been set up and will be tasked with looking at items like IFC, interoperability, etc.

A national NZ BIM Object Library will possibly be set up, similar to the NBS National BIM Library in the UK

Auckland University are on board with the productivity partnership and are looking at how the education sector can influence BIM in the industry.

A BIM policy will be proposed to Government by the productivity partnership by the end of 2013.


BIM can save the construction industry 5.5% per annum (Public Sector only) this equates to approx. $182 Million per annum.

Geobuild aims to bring together 3 core foundations of knowledge that can provide comprehensive location information.

National online consenting

Building Information Modelling

Location based information

A centralised internet based hub which receives, captures and allows consistent electronic processing of all building consent applications.

A digital representation of both the physical and functional characteristics of a building.

A complete digital picture of all land and data on the built environment. (i.e. a building, on a particular site, with all below ground services.)

It will take 3-5 years to fully implement Geobuild

CCoPE (Construction Centre of Procurement Excellence) has been set up to look into improving current procurement methods.

The 2 key components to getting BIM moving forward are a BIM Handbook and the Legal Framework for BIM.


Natspec have been commissioned to author the NZ BIM Handbook

The aim is to create a guide that will clarify BIM (on a national level) for all project stakeholders.

Natspec are experienced in writing guidance on BIM, their BIM Portal R&D projects can be found here

NZ BIM Handbook

To create a common industry language for BIM (a number of Handbooks exist around the world but it is felt that a New Zealand handbook needs to be created with New Zealand terminology)

Clarify the briefing process for designers and constructors

The Australian National BIM Guide produced by Natspec will be used as a starting point this decision was made after reviewing a number of countries BIM Handbooks, the Australian one seemed to be the most comprehensive and didn’t have hundreds of pages like some of the others.

The main focus of the Handbook will be aimed at the people directly involved in the BIM process. The start of the guide will be aimed more towards the lower end of the BIM knowledge scale, to give an overview of BIM to those in the industry who know very little about it.

Define the process, methodology and interface of BIM throughout the whole design stage and touching on FM (further FM information can be added in later revisions)

A common language combined with common expectations is the key to the handbooks success.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Cost of inadequate Interoperability

An infographic including a study by The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) showing that poor handover of data and documentation from a construction project can result in 66% of the total cost of rework, errors and downtime are incurred in the operations phase of a facility or asset. Estimates show this to be an annual cost to US industry in excess of $15.8Bm.

Source -

Inadequate Data Interoperability

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Christchurch Central Recovery Plan

Te Mahere ‘Maraka Otautahi’
The Christchurch Central Recovery Plan (CCRP) outlines the future development of central Christchurch.

It incorporates a spatial Blueprint Plan developed by a professional consortium working with the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority's Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) over a 100 day period.

It was released to the public on 30 July 2012.


Central Christchurch will become the thriving heart of an international city, it will draw on its rich natural and cultural heritage, and the skills and passion of its people, to embrace opportunities for innovation and growth. 
The redevelopment will acknowledge the past and the events that have shaped the city, while reflecting the best of the new. 

What do the people of Christchurch want for their city?

When Christchurch City Council asked people to share ideas about the central city recovery it received over 100,000 suggestions. Advice also came from professional institutes, interest groups, and community organisations.

From the responses, 5 key themes formed the basis of the plan.
  • Green city
  • Stronger built identity
  • Compact CBD
  • Accessible city
  • Live, Work, Play, Learn and Visit
The Blueprint

The blueprint plan provides a spatial framework for Central Christchurch. It describes the form in which the central city can be rebuilt as a whole, and defines the location of ‘anchor projects’ which will stimulate further development.


A large multipurpose sports and entertainment venue is proposed for central Christchurch. wit seating for up to 35,000 people, the covered stadium will position central Christchurch as a world-class option for attracting and hosting sporting events and concerts. The stadium will include:
  • 35,000 capacity, with 4,300 demountable seats to allow for staging and scaling of events.
  • Corporate suites and lounge spaces with 4000 seat capacity
  • Option of a fixed transparent roof
  • Optimum spectator viewing through rectangular format for field of play and seating 

Justice and Emergency Service Precinct.
The Justice and Emergency Service Precinct will incorporate the government and emergency service sectors, along with Civil Defence and Emergency Management. It will bring a substantial workforce into the central city, stimulating recovery by supporting retail and commercial activity in the central area.

Metro Sports Facility

A new metro sports facility will attract people from across Canterbury, New Zealand and the world. They will be able to train, participate and compete in a broad range of sports for all ages and abilities. The facilities will also offer a pleasant and relaxing environment for spectators.


It will be a top-class venue and centre of excellence, accessible to people of all ages, abilities and sporting skills. Providing aquatic and indoor sport facilities, it will cater for the day-to-day needs of the recreational, educational and high performance sporting communities, and also host national and international events. The facility will be conveniently located in central Christchurch, close to other sporting facilities and easy to access by public transport, private vehicle and new walking and cycling links. The Metro Sports Facility will include:
  • Aquatic centre with a 50m, 10-lane competition pool, dive and leisure pools
  • Indoor stadium – 8 indoor courts including seating for up to 2,800
  • High performance centre with facilities for coaching and training
  • Day-to-day recreation, including fitness centre and outdoor landscaped space
  • Performance movement centre with studios and performance space
  • Administration facilities and parking
Health Precinct
A world-class hub for health education, research and innovation could be established next to the existing Christchurch Hospital.

The Health Precinct is an inspirational project in which private research and professional partners, educational and medi-hotel facilities will be within walking distance of the main hospital site. It will also form a world-class facility for learning and teaching in medicine located at the western end of the south Frame, the precinct will be well connected to the Metro Sports Facility and the Core.

Performing Arts Precinct

The arts and creative industries are crucial to the recovery of Christchurch. They contribute to the local economy, to community and cultural wellbeing, and support tourism and hospitality. Most of all, they draw people to the city and make it an inspiring place to be. A Performing Arts Precinct is proposed to offer facilities for music and the performing arts, and to act as a catalyst for recovery. The precinct will embrace different sites and will support co-location of organisations as far as is possible.
The precinct designation will be sufficient to provide for a range of facilities in the event that the Town Hall cannot be repaired. It will be in close proximity to the Convention Centre, Papa o Ōtākaro/Avon River Precinct, hospitality providers and hotels. The Precinct could include a performing arts centre made up of two auditoria of 1,500 and 500 seats respectively, with an appropriately high-quality acoustic environment. It could also provide a permanent home for the Court Theatre, the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, and the Music Centre of Christchurch. The location of the Performing Arts Precinct recognises the restoration of the Isaac Theatre Royal in its existing location.

Avon River Precinct

The winding path of the Ōtākaro/Avon River will mark Christchurch’s new river precinct. Papa o Ōtākaro will include Victoria Square (formerly Market Square) and be part of the central city’s spiritual and aesthetic identity. The historical contrast between the curving river and the linear grid of the streets is a key element of the city’s distinctive urban form. Ōtākaro holds great significance for Ngāi Tahu: the river was their commercial vein, transport route, source of mahinga kai, and place by which they lived and traded. The new precinct will give priority to people and provide for cyclists and pedestrians.


Convention Centre Precinct

A world-class convention centre will be developed to attract new and exciting events to the city. The precinct comprises of a number of buildings that will reactivate surrounding streets and public spaces, and generate new activity. The precinct will support retail and hospitality within the Core and visitor attractions and services throughout Christchurch.

The Earthquake Memorial
A place where people can spend time in reflection and honour those who lost their lives or were injured in the earthquakes will be developed in central Christchurch. The national Earthquake Memorial will be a place of local, national and international significance where individuals can reflect and large groups can gather. Because this is such a significant project, it should begin early, not be rushed and involve the community and families of those who died.

185 people died in Christchurch as a result of the 22 February 2011 earthquake, and many others were seriously injured. The earthquakes profoundly affected many people and cultures, within New Zealand. Nearly every person in the greater Christchurch region has an earthquake story and we all tell them in different ways. A community consultation process will be undertaken as part of the development of plans for the national Earthquake Memorial to ensure that the voices and ideas of the effected families and the community are captured in the design process for the Memorial. The Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Christchurch City Council and Ngāi Tahu will work together to identify the site and begin the community consultation and design process. A design competition will
be undertaken to attract the best ideas; international teams may participate but they must include local personnel.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Christchurch – A Shaken city

On the 4th of September 2010, the day I left New Zealand, Christchurch was rocked by a magnitude 7.1 earthquake, its epicentre was 35 miles away from Christchurch, with a depth of only 7.5 miles it caused widespread damage and a state of emergency was declared. Whilst the quake caused a lot of damage, and power to over 75% of the city was disrupted, there were no fatalities. Unfortunately for Christchurch this was the calm before the storm.

Footbridge over the Avon River was badly twisted in the September 2010 quake.File:Medway Bridge 76.jpg

On the 22nd of February 2011 (almost 6 months after the first quake) Christchurch was rocked by a magnitude 6.3 Earthquake, the epicentre was 6 miles away from Christchurch and at a very shallow depth of 3.1 miles. this earthquake has been described to me by engineers in the city as a 1 in 2500 year earthquake, the majority of buildings are designed to withstand a 1 in 100 year disaster.

This earthquake was responsible for 185 deaths, and insurance claims are expected to be in excess of $15 Billion New Zealand.

As an outsider moving to Christchurch it is hard to picture what the ‘garden city’ used to look like. Driving from the airport to my temporary accommodation all I was thinking is you wouldn’t even know an earthquake had hit, perfect suburbia springs to mind in some areas. The closer you get to the central city and things change, you start to see a lot of empty plots of land, almost 2 years on form the February quake and there is still so much demolition to be completed. A lot of the CBD is still closed off to the general public. This is known as the Red Zone.

IMG_1985                      IMG_1963

Looking over the chain link fence it is like looking at a Hollywood movie set, something you would see in one of the Resident Evil movies perhaps, traffic lights flashing on amber and not one person in sight.


Walking further into the city and into parts of the Red Zone which are now open to the public, the devastation is there for everyone to see. Mountains of rubble, damaged buildings, empty tower blocks.

IMG_2010                      IMG_2011

The most disturbing sight of all is the Cathedral, this once amazing part of Christchurch is completely ruined. 



Standing in the middle of Cathedral Square looking at this once great building, wondering how it will ever be restored made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. It is hard to understand what the people of Christchurch have gone through over the last 2 years, and will continue to go through for the foreseeable future.

One thing I did notice as I was wondering around Christchurch’s CBD was the Red Bus……. A bus tour that takes you ‘beyond the cordon’ and into the Red Zone. This is something that is been promoted as an educational tour, a tour guide will talk you through what happened on the day of the quake, and what the future holds for the city.


I can’t help but think this is a money making exercise for someone. There is plenty of information about the quake and the future plans for the city available online and in various leaflets and posters throughout Christchurch. It hits the nail on the head when the website offers a ‘Special package for cruise ship passengers’ – at $15 per person, this is something I will not be doing.

There is hope

The people of Christchurch have had to evolve and adapt, this can be seen if you look at the ‘Pop up Mall’ which is located on the edge of the Red Zone, built using shipping containers this quirky shopping centre is awesome, and I really hope it stays once the rebuild is complete.

IMG_2014                       IMG_2015

Cardboard Cathedral

A temporary structure is currently under construction in the heart of the city, ‘The Cardboard Cathedral’ is being built on the site of the old St Johns church which was demolished after the February quake. The Cathedral will be built using paper and cardboard tubes on a timber and steel A Frame. The site is opposite the CTV building where 115 people died in the February quake.

         11122012 News Photo: John Kirk-Anderson / The Press / Fairfax NZ<br /><br />The first frame of the cardboard cathedral goes up.


Christchurch Central Recovery Plan

The Christchurch Central Recovery Plan outlines the future of the city, a green city with 30m of walkway either side of the River Avon, a compact CBD, various precincts for healthcare, justice, retail, and sport. The masterplan includes:

  • Sports Stadium
  • Community Sports Facilities
  • Cultural Centre



As somebody working in the construction industry I can safely say there is nowhere on this planet I would rather be for the coming years, I’m excited to be involved in rebuilding and reshaping a city, it will be a very fulfilling challenge knowing that my work will make a difference to the people of Christchurch, and I am sure BIM will have a major part to play in this.


Christchurch Central Recovery Plan