The Italian path to Level 3 and the service provision-centred paradigm

Angelo Ciribini, Silvia Mastrolembo Ventura, Lavinia Tagliabue describe where BIM goes in the post-oocupancy phase of a building’s lifecycle.

The so-called levels of BIM maturity have proved a popular concept worldwide. Developed by Mark Bew and Mervyn Richards, the diagram depicting the levels are instantly recognisable by its wedge shape.

It has been a useful diagram for the supply chain to identify what it is to deliver and the competences required, while the client can understand what the supply chain is offering.

They align in the UK Public Available Specifications and will also form the basis of the corresponding ISO Standard for BIM (ISO EN 19650 Standards), published by BSI.

However, these BIM maturity levels have been adopted at different speeds and different rates of implementation within the various countries and the AECO industry’s reluctance to embrace innovative and disruptive processes can be found everywhere throughout regions and continents.

The wedge diagram’s original intent would envisage a sequential and incremental approach: in our opinion, the evolutional stages could be, at the opposite, partially overlapped, being not so linear.

In Germany, a Competence Centre (for the Digital Infrastructures), similar to the British Centre for Digital Built Britain or the French Programme for the Digital Transition into the General Construction, is expected, too.

Unfortunately, in Italy, such a centre for the AECO industry’s digitilisation has not yet been established.  

Nevertheless, at DICATAM, University of Brescia, some research proposals and initiatives concerning the so-called Levels 3 are progressing, dealing with minor refurbishment projects and major projects focused upon urban regeneration.

The first research strands focus on a digital platform capable of managing integrated refurbishment projects regarding the housebuilding retrofitting, the seismic enhancement, and the interconnected services to be provided to the occupants: it is an option, really close to the Digital Built Britain-oriented notion of service provision.

In other words, a digital eco-system, jointly conceived by academia, financial arrangers, large ICT players, general contractors and building/MEP components manufacturers will offer special fit-for-purpose, customised and tailored services by means of cognitive refurbished buildings (which are analysing and understanding the users’ needs).

Some machine learning-based routines will be tested there too, to enhance the quality of the services to be provided.

The ELISIR programme’s main contents can be found at the following link (also in English).

A further research proposal, recently submitted to the H2020 EU Programme, involves some university campuses behaving and functioning as cognitive districts according to some previous research findings achieved throughout other research programmes managed in cooperation with a large public utility, to connect educational buildings, smart grids, green cars etc.

The research programme’s main purpose lies with individual and real-time relationships occurring between the users and the built assets (the educational facilities) they occupy. The University of Brescia eLux Lab’s website contains more information on this subject (in English, too).

Another research programme, related to the cognitivity paradigm, recently submitted together with other top level academic institutions and institutes for medical treatment and research, deals with the elderly, to be aided through dedicated immersive wearable devices linked to some AI-based algorithms and solutions.

Eventually, the research group will test a smart construction object (a sensorised multi-layered building component: an external thermal insulation composite system) to be tied to a smart contract and a blockchained payment system.

Interconnection and cognitivity push and urge the industry, or the most advanced portion of it, to quickly go beyond BIM: we have to move from the built assets’ lifecycles to the occupants’ cycles of life.

Angelo Ciribini is a Professor of Architecture at, DICATAM, Università degli Studi di Brescia; Silvia Mastrolembo Ventura is a phD student at Politecnico di Milano, Department Architecture, Built Environment and Construction Engineering ABC, and  collaborator at the University of Brescia; and Lavinia Tagliabue is a pHD fellow at  Politecnico di MilanoBuilding Environment Science & Technology (BEST) 

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