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BIM in 2021: DMA's David Miller

6 January 2021

David Miller, director & principal architect at David Miller Architects, hopes that the Construction Playbook doesn’t become another report that we look back at in 10 years’ time and lament that nothing changed.

What in your view changed in terms of use of digital in construction and design in 2020?

There are always going to be headline-grabbing developments in construction, whether it’s clever drone technology or robotic bricklayers. However, for us the greatest legacy of 2020 is going to be the solidification of a cloud-based common data environment (CDE) at the heart of everything we do. We had been already been using Autodesk BIM 360 Design to collaborate externally and between our two offices in London and Liverpool: the pandemic and the complete dispersal of our team meant that we were all using it all the time.

What technologies do you see coming into their own in 2021 – and why?

This has motivated us to start migrating our project quality management off our physical servers and onto the CDE. We have wanted to do this for some time, but the push of the pandemic has made it happen and we are confident that we will never go back.

This is especially true in the light of the Building Safety Bill, which has been a preoccupation for us over the last year. The intension is to capture the decision-making process in the CDE and then track specific building safety elements through the design, specification and construction phases.

We have done this before by using the GUIDs (global unique identifiers) in the digital model to schedule out and then track specific components like fire collars and cavity barriers. The intension is for this to become standard practice going forward.

Another realisation during 2020 has been that we should be moving away from designing with products and components and instead be assembling pre-approved systems in advance that we already know work together. Our team has been busy putting these together in some of the downtime that 2020 afforded us. These vary from complete bathroom assemblies that have parametric qualities to allow them to be pushed and pulled within predefined rules to external wall systems that we can be confident are compliant from the outset.

None of this is as cool as a robotic bricklayer, but certainly more useful.

What are you looking forward to trialling/bringing on board in the coming 12 months?

The Construction Playbook is a positive move forward so long as it if it doesn’t become another report that we look back at in ten years’ time and lament that nothing changed.

Related to this is our hope that if the government decides to stimulate the economy through investment in infrastructure, that it does not just focus on massive headline-grabbing projects but looks to smaller local projects that have the chance of reaching a much wider audience and supply chain – schools, homes and hospitals, for example.

Must-have new app:

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